SIX PACKS ON ICE:CHL BLOG GRINDER’S CORNER: A Showdown in New Jersey
They are the hockey players who deserve to be watched more than just over the holiday season, when we moan and complain about having to set the alarm for 4am when the World Junior Hockey Championship tournament is in Russia. But, we still get up and cheer like banshees when our respective countrymen get the job done.
They’re the players who spend hours on buses to arrive three hours before a game, only to run the stairs of some of the most, shall we say… interesting rinks in North America for off-ice conditioning. Then, they run stairs after the game whether it’s a win or a loss. Did we mention they’re also still going to school, as required by their respective leagues?
They’re the players who are often adopted hometown heroes.
(Think Burnaby Joe in Swift Current, or Sid the Kid in Rimouski.)
They’re the CHL – the parent organization of major junior hockey in nine Canadian Provinces. And four States.
Comprised of three leagues coast to coast, the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the CHL currently oversees 60 teams. The culmination of the hockey year comes with the Holy Grail of junior hockey – the Memorial Cup.
Perhaps even more cut-throat than the road to the Stanley Cup, the Memorial Cup tournament features just four teams – champions from each of the WHL, OHL, and the Q, plus the host team. 2013’s edition is in the wild, wild, west – the Bridge City, Saskatoon, with the host Blades currently in 4th in the Eastern Conference, thus ensuring the teams in this year’s Mem Cup will all be strong contenders.
The top 5 picks in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft are products of the CHL and eight of the top ten picks are from the CHL. In the ’05-’06 season of the NHL, half the players played in the CHL. Never mind there was a lockout the previous season.
Yay, David Branch. Boo, Gary Bettman.
For the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, to be held in New Jersey, the odds are in Nathan MacKinnon’s favor to go number one overall. The 17-year-old Halifax Moosehead, in his sophomore season in the QMJHL, is currently averaging 1.7 PPG with the second-ranked team in the CHL.
Which team is currently ranked number one in the CHL?
Some would argue that comparing MacKinnon (a centre) with Jones (a self-described two-way defenseman) is the equivalent of comparing, as the Serbians say, Grandmothers to toads.
Another not-so-dark horse? MacKinnon’s teammate in Halifax (and on Team Canada’s World Junior team), Jonathan Drouin. Or their goaltender Zach Fucale – the #1 North American goalie prospect from the NHL Central Scouting Bureau midterm report.
It’s still a bit early to know exactly what will take place for the NHL Entry Draft. As for right now, Nathan MacKinnon is undoubtedly worrying about rehabilitating (he has a “lower body” injury)… and taking care of his puppy.
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Rough start to the day when your dog decides to use the living room as a bathroom #1and2
— Nathan Mackinnon (@Mackinnon9) February 8, 2013
(Photo Credit: Be sure to go sauce @MacKinnon9 a follow as we are crediting his Twitter account for photos!)