Kingston Frontenacs owner Doug Springer need look no farther than a hour west along the 401 to find a team that knows how to draft and develop players. Can he trade for the Belleville Bulls scouting department?
The two Bulls named to the Team Canada world junior squad, forward Shawn Matthias and defenceman P.K. Subban (pictured), were each sixth-round draft choices, Matthias in 2004 and Subban in '05. Sixth round. How's that for scouting? How's that for coaching players and help them unlock their potential?
It's small wonder why the Bulls are considered the Anti-Frontenacs. Springer should chew on that come Boxing Day, when much of the country is eating on leftovers and watching Canada take on the Czech Republic. Will he pick up on that brilliant bit of player development by Belleville if he sees Matthias or Subban on the ice wearing the Maple Leaf? Would he even connect the dots between it and the state of the Frontenacs and realize that GM-for-life Larry Mavety is out of excuses for his lousy drafts?
Along with Matthias and Subban, the Frontenacs had a chance to draft each of the other two defencemen Team Canada is taking to Pardubice, Drew Doughty and Kingston's own Josh Godfrey. This is the same team that dressed four D for a game last weekend.
Doughty went to went fifth overall in the '05 draft, one pick after the Fronts selected centre Luke Pither, who's since been united with Doughty in Guelph. That's excusable, it happens, and who knows what lobbying went on with agents and parents behind the scenes.
The Fronts had six picks in between Doughty (fifth) and Subban (105th). The two d-men they chose were Brett Piercey and Derek Szasz and only their parents know where they are playing this season. How much of that is the Fronts' inability to bring players along, or help them adjust to the OHL?
A year earlier, Godfrey and Matthias were taken 79th and 101st overall. To his credit, Mavety had a middle-round coup, taking the recently dealt Cory Emmerton, who will miss out on a coveted trip to the world juniors due to mononucleosis, with the 89th pick.
However, Godfrey, Emmerton, Matthias and fellow Team Canada member Stefan Legein (Niagara IceDogs, 97th pick) were all up for grabs when the Frontenacs spent their third-rounder and both fourth-rounders on players who never stuck in the OHL. It is hard to resist saying third-rounder Jordan Doig, now playing Junior C, will probably not replace Alice Munro as the most famous person to ever come from Wingham, Ont.
Some Googling reveals that a fourth-round pick, Ryan Watson, elected to go the NCAA route at Western Michigan. Who knows how it went down, but Mavety is known to take NCAA-track players just as an I'll-show-you move.
In fairness, it is tricky to predict what 15- to 17-year-old hockey players will become. That can't be stressed enough. However, it seems Murphy's Law is more likely to rule the day when a hockey team is ruled by Mavety's Law.
Along with a gold medal for Team Canada, one holiday wish is that Doug Springer will realize this soon enough.
(Fire Larry Mavety/Sell The Fronts Springer, or whatever those guys have decided to call themselves are all over this too.)