The most influential figure in Canadian junior hockey was honoured Monday as the late Ed Chynoweth was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the builder’s category.
Chynoweth was a long-time president of the Western Hockey League and Canadian Hockey League from 1972 to 1995. During his tenure, Chynoweth’s vision helped create many of the great aspects junior hockey enjoys today, such as the creation of the scholarship fund and the formation of the CHL and Memorial Cup format.
Chynoweth, who died of cancer in April, was represented by his sons Jeff and Dean, who are both general managers in the WHL. Although it’s unfortunate Ed wasn’t able to partake in his induction ceremony, Dean knew his father would have been proud of the way it went.
“The good thing about it is it wasn’t like he passed and didn’t know about this,” Dean said. “He knew about the nomination, he knew he was accepted and just like his funeral service, he didn’t want it to be dull and boring. He wanted it to be a celebration and no different this weekend, he would not have wanted us to go there and be mourning the fact he couldn’t be there. He would want us to enjoy it and I know he would be very proud of the way things went.”
Ironically, Chynoweth may have been inducted into the Hall of Fame earlier had he not served on the selection committee, active members of which cannot be inducted.
“The (former New York Islanders general manager) Bill Torrey’s and (former Boston Bruins general manager) Harry Sinden’s of the world would always give him a hard time that, ‘Eddy, you have to get off the selection committee so we can get you in the Hall’ and that wasn’t what was important to him,” Dean said. “What was important to him was that he could be a part of the selection committee and the process of the great Hockey Hall of Fame.”
The WHL renamed the championship trophy the Ed Chynoweth Cup last year and dedicated this season to him. Each player wears a sticker of the Ed Chynoweth Cup on his helmet.
*** Web note: Log on to Sportsnet.ca later this week for an in depth column on the legacy of Ed Chynoweth with exclusive commentary from his sons as well as other decision makers around the WHL.
Moncton rewriting record books
From being a non-playoff team last season to record-setters this season, the young Moncton Wildcats are proving to be quick learners.
The Québec Major Junior Hockey League champions from 2006 could very well be heading towards another banner season if their early season success is any indication. The Wildcats set two records through their 17-0-2-0 start this season: for earning a point in their first 19 games of the season; and winning their first nine road games in a season. Both records stood for more than 30 years.
“(Both records) received a lot of publicity in Moncton and a lot of media coverage so as a team we were certainly well aware of that, but I don’t think our focus was on that,” head coach and director of hockey operations Danny Flynn said. “We have a good group of guys that did a great job of taking (each game) one at a time and every game was a best-of-one.”
Both milestones make the Wildcats the top team statistically in the league. Although the Shawinigan Cataractes have more points, the Wildcats have played four fewer games and trail in the overall standings by just two points.
Just what does this record mean for the Wildcats?
“It’s a great milestone for the organization and for the ownership and for the community,” Flynn said. “I think the players are pretty proud of what they’ve accomplished.
“Having said that, I think it’s something that will mean a lot more to them as time goes by. Both those records lasted over 30 years so to be able to better the marks of outstanding teams is something we’re going to look back upon with pride when it’s all said and done.”
Sexsmith, Pickard achieve milestones
Vancouver Giants goaltender Tyson Sexsmith broke the record for the most career shutouts in the Western Hockey League with a 5-0 win over Prince George on Friday.
Sexsmith needed just 138 games to accomplish the feat. Bryan Bridges originally set the mark at 21 in 213 career games while Leland Irving tied the record last season in 195 career games.
Tri-City Americans goaltender Chet Pickard is awaiting a text message from Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price. Pickard, who was once Price’s understudy in Tri-City, is set to become the franchise’s career leader in wins after tying the mark of 83 set by Price. Pickard tied the record on Friday in a 5-4 shootout win over Kamloops.
So what might Price’s reaction be to having his record broken?
“I don’t know, probably something about how he taught me everything I know,” Pickard said with a laugh. “He’s pretty proud of the things I’ve accomplished. When it came to being drafted, he was the first one to text me and congratulate me. It’s nice to have him as a good friend and (he’s) obviously someone I look up to.”
Pickard said he’s still in contact with Price a couple times each month and while he’s happy to have the chance to beat the record, he was quick to give praise to his teammates.
“It’s nice, but at the same time it’s one of those records that reflects how your team plays in front of you,” he said. “It’s nice obviously to have my name there but at the end of the day that’s not what you play the game for. It’s an individual record, but I consider it more a team record.”
Knights and Petes involved in blockbuster
The first big domino fell on the trade front last week when the Peterborough Petes traded veteran goaltender Trevor Cann to the London Knights.
Cann, regarded as one of the top goalies in the league, was made available in Peterborough given the Petes’ depth at the position and because the team is better suited to make a run at a championship in future years. In exchange for Cann, the Petes received import forward Sergei Korostin, 17-year-old defenceman Barron Smith and a second-round pick in 2010.
Trade talks between London and Peterborough began in the summer, Petes general manager Jeff Twohey said. The conversation between the two teams heated up last week when the Knights received news that overage defenceman Kevin Montgomery would be returned to the junior club by the Colorado Avalanche. With Montgomery back, the team needed to make room for him and did so by dropping goaltender Jason Guy.
“They needed to fill their void relatively quickly so it was either going to be us or someone else,” Twohey said. “(London general manager) Mark (Hunter) and (head coach) Dale Hunter are good friends of mine and we were able to go through something that benefits both teams.”
With the acquisition of Cann and the return of Montgomery, the Knights appear poised to make a run at the Ontario Hockey League title this season. As Twohey said, Cann’s destination played a part in the trade.
“I think the biggest thing for me is Trevor Cann was nothing but a great kid here and a great contributor to our team and it was very difficult to move him,” Twohey said. “But at the same time, knowing Mark and Dale and the quality organization in London and the quality of their team, I knew I was putting Trevor into a situation that was beneficial to him.
“I just know in my heart that it’s a great opportunity for Trevor and he deserves, if he was going to leave here, to go to a good situation and he’s in one now.”
Twohey’s Petes are hoping the addition of Korostin will spark an anemic offence which ranks seventh in goals scored in the Eastern Conference. The addition of Smith, the son of former Edmonton Oiler Steve, brings size and mobility to a very young group of defencemen.
“We’re excited because we feel that at some point when Steve’s around watching Barron we’re hoping to get him on the ice to have our young defence learn from,” Twohey said. “If we can ever get Steve out there to work with them when he’s around that’s an added benefit.”
Americans add sniper from Lethbridge
The Tri-City Americans and Lethbridge Hurricanes are at it again.
Two years ago, the Americans made a big splash when they acquired forward Colton Yellow Horn from the Hurricanes. This time, it’s overage forward Mitch Fadden who will be expected to lead the Americans’ offence.
“(Fadden) was a fun kid to have around here,” Hurricanes general manager Roy Stasiuk said. “(He’s) extremely talented and I don’t think it’s a lot different than it was two years ago when we traded Colton Yellow Horn. The Tri-City Americans really covet a player of that magnitude and that ability because that’s really what sells in their market.”
In exchange for Fadden and defencemen Cam Stevens and Brock Sutherland, the Americans sent defenceman Eric Mestery and forward Drew Hoff to Lethbridge. As Stasiuk said, the unexpected loss of Luca Sbisa, who will remain with the Philadelphia Flyers, created a big hole on their blue line.
“I’ve watched Eric Mestery since he was 14 years old,” Stasiuk said. “He’s always been a big kid but he skates very well. He’s got great lateral movement and of course, affirmation is the fact the Washington Capitals drafted him in the second round this past June.”
In Fadden, the Americans acquire a valuable offensive threat who finished sixth in the league in scoring last season. In three games since joining the Americans, Fadden made an immediate impression with five assists and the decisive goal in Friday’s shootout win over Kamloops.
“He has a lot of skill up front and he’s really good with the puck and that’s what we needed,” Americans goaltender Chet Pickard said. “It’s been pretty enjoyable watching him play, all the things he can do with the puck and the way he controls the power play. He’s pretty special and I consider him one of the best players in the league and he’s definitely showing us that.”
Vellucci back behind the bench
Michael Vellucci will have a lot on his plate this season.
The general manager and president of the Plymouth Whalers in the OHL added the role of head coach after previous head coach Greg Stefan accepted a scouting job with the Carolina Hurricanes. Vellucci, who was the head coach of the 2007 OHL champion Whalers, ended his first term last December.
As Vellucci told Sportsnet.ca Tuesday, the move back to head coach came with mixed feelings.
“It’s too bad that Greg decided that being a head coach wasn’t something he wanted to do so from that, it’s bittersweet,” he said. “There are certain things I definitely missed – being on the bench during the game, practices and being around the guys. Then there’s things you don’t miss – the long bus trips, the time away from your family and missing special events if you have young kids birthday parties – that’s what takes its toll.
“But just like any job you have to make those sacrifices.”
Although the team is in transition with their new head coach, Vellucci said the move is made easier given that he remained with the team and that some of the players are familiar with his coaching style.
Among the areas he would like to improve are special teams, where the team is second last in both power-play and penalty-killing efficiency.
“(Special teams are) pretty much the majority of your game right now so we need to fix those. The talent is there, we need to get the effort now,” he said.
From his standpoint as the team’s general manager, Vellucci has received a lot of inquiries regarding his goaltending situation. The Whalers have two players in Jeremy Smith and Matt Hackett who could start at the position which has made Smith, the older of the two, highly sought after on the trade market.
Smith, 19, was the starter for the American world junior team last year, a role he could very well play this December and January in Ottawa, Ont. But don’t write him off as a Whaler just yet. One of the biggest selling points for Smith to join the Whalers was that he could play in the league without leaving home. Smith lives at home in Brownstown, Mich., which is a mere 15-minute drive to the rink.
“I haven’t talked to him about (other teams’ interest) because we’re not going to move him, is our standpoint right now,” Vellucci said. “We made the effort we’re not going to trade him right now or, if at all, and we don’t want to (trade him).”
Vellucci is the most successful head coach in the organization with a 246-132-37-22 record. He won the coach of the year award in 2007, the year his team won the OHL championship and represented the OHL in the Memorial Cup.