Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fronts: What are the prospects for new ownership?

The latest NHL draft ratings really put the lie to Springer Frontenacs GM-for-life Larry Mavety's claims about being such a great place to get exposure.

Forward Ethan Werek's and defenceman Taylor Doherty's stocks have each fallen, to Nos. 43 and 71 among North American skaters. Funny how that would happen with both draft-worthy 17-year-old in an organization helmed by unaccountable owner Doug Springer, Mavety and their Manchurian Coach, Doug Gilmour.

The spin when Werek reported to Kingston this fall instead of decamping to the USHL for a season before going on to Boston University was that that league was not very good. Others theorized he would get more exposure for the draft by playing in the OHL. Well, after a half-season with the Springer Frontenacs, Werek is ranked below five skaters from the USHL including Alex Chiasson, who committed to Boston University after Werek told the Terriers, thanks but no thanks.

There is no disrespect intended to either Werek or Doherty, who are hopefully destined for better and brighter days after toiling for the franchise with the worst record in the 60-team Canadian Hockey League. (When the QMJHL's Val-D'Or Foreurs won Friday, that left Kingston as the only team in the three major junior leagues that has yet to win 10 games this season.)

It goes double for Werek, who has had to suffer constant line shuffling, being bypassed for a defenceman in a shootout one day after he scored both goals in a 2-1 victory and having the "C" taken off his sweater after wearing it for only one game. The story goes that Springer issued an edict that defenceman Brian Lashoff be made captain. Lashoff (who, to be fair, is supposed to have a bright future) was also picked by Dougie! to take the final shot in the shootout Sunday vs. Niagara while Werek was kept on the bench.

Doherty, meantime, was being pegged as a possible late first-rounder earlier this season. TV Cogeco's Tim Cunningham noted several weeks back on Kinger's radio program, Offsides (Kingston's most listened to hour-long sports show, Friday, 4 p.m., cfrc.ca, 101.9 FM), Doherty's progress has been slower than expected.

Doherty and Werek's slip in the Central Scouting Bureau ratings (which should not be taken as gospel, since every team does their own homework) might betray how people are looking at the great Springer gong show in Kingston. They have probably seen what has happened this season with the two Kingston players taken during the NHL's cattle call in 2008.

Anaheim Ducks draft pick Josh Brittain was jerked around all season before being traded to the Barrie Colts in December (He's still Kingston's leader in goals, six weeks leader, although Werek should overtake him soon). Pittsburgh selection Nathan Moon' has had an up-and-down season. None of this does much for the Frontenacs' already poor reputation for developing players. It is reasonable to wonder what the talk is in hockey circles about Springer's organization. A commenter on Save Our Kingston Frontenacs might have put it best:
"You cannot drop a promising career into Kingston and hope to develop. Had a long chat last night in London with parents of two very good young players in London and both had no interest in Kingston. They would of done anything to avoid the Mav draft and watch their kids not develop properly."
Granted, this entire post is staked on the assumption Springer doesn't want to keep icing a bad team and increase the chance of the K-Rock Centre being a drag on the city of Kingston's finances. That is a big if to contemplate and it might explain why The Royal Mavesty, that "astute hockey man" to quote the owner himself, is being kept around.

It has been 448 days since Doug Springer promised he would do "whatever it takes" to give Kingston fans a winning hockey team.

Cheering for Gilmour; Frontenacs coach has difficult task ahead of him (Jan Murphy, Kingston Whig-Standard)

No comments: