Monday, February 09, 2009

Fronts: Now that was a Super Sunday

Sunday was a good one for a follower of the whole durned human comedy which is the Kingston Frontenacs. They owned the Ottawa 67's in an 8-6 win, while their no-account owner and GM got owned by the out-of-town media.

In between periods, coach Doug Gilmour had a sort of cryptic, kind of cocky response to question about the team's appearance before Kingston city council about its (wink) marketing plan. "It was all a miscommunication," he told Rogers TV, breaking eye contact with the interviewer. "And something that, uh, you know we – we have a lot of pride (in) how we want to build this team and the fan support and everything else that we had. So, uh, we stated our case. It was easy. It's over with. It will never happen again." (Emphasis mine. This is a team which has still yet to win two games in a row all season.)

Meantime, the out-of-town media went to town on owner Doug Springer and ceremonial GM-for-life Larry Mavety for not taking questions from Kingston city council last week. Ed Hand, the host, wouldn't even let Lee Versage hedge one bit, saying, "It doesn't look good. The owner should have been there and the general manager should have been there answering the questions – and they weren't."

Versage added, "I thought, unfair to put those two guys (Gilmour and marketing director Jeff Stilwell) in that situation ... The owner and the general manager, they kind of weren’t there and deflected it off.

"It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that the owner and the general manager should have been there and they’re trotting out the marketing guy and the coach because he's a big name," Versage added a few moments later.

It is not necessary to reiterate the argument about Springer and Mavety that have been made here since the tailend of the 2006-07 season. It is hilarious to see announcers in another OHL market criticize the owner and GM unaccountable, and Sunaya Sapurji of Loose Pucks call Kingston "the capital of OHL crazytown."

There is a phenomena involved when one's hometown junior hockey club is cursed with tragically bad management. It is like one has to wait until they're playing for pride before he's able to abandon himself to cheering for them. Fortunately for a Frontenacs fan, that point arrived before the official start of winter this season. It was obvious by late November that all that was at stake was how high their draft position would be (no worse than No. 2) and how many season-ticket holders they will lose once it became known Mavety will be back. At least Gilmour said "it wouldn't happen again" with respect to being frog-marched in front of city council.

In other words, watching Sunday's game from seats behind the Frontenacs bench was so choice. It started well, with rooie Erik Gudbranson beating two forecheckers to launch a scoring rush for the first goal. It was capped with the Limestone City's Light Brigade scoring five goals in the third period to send Ottawans home crabby. Ethan Werek was all over the ice and was rightly named the first star despite having only two points, albeit one of them coming on the go-ahead goal with 4:01 left in the game. Big defenceman Taylor Doherty delivered some huge hits and Mavric Parks, even though he gave up six goals, made some huge saves to keep his team in the hunt after it went down 3-1 early in the second period.

The afternoon was catered to Kingston. Ottawa had only 10 forwards and was playing its third game in three days. The goal which tied the game 5-5 in the third period came about thanks to a chintzy delay-of-game penalty when an Ottawa defenceman flipped the puck over the low glass, putting Kingston on a 5-on-3 power play.

That was just details. It was one of those games where both teams went up and down for 60 minutes and pretty much yielded to the flow of the game. It was nice, for lack of a better word, to see your hometown team lighting it up, as was the case in December when Kingston blew out the 67's 7-3 at the Civic Centre, also on a Sunday afternoon. (From the strange but true files, both of Kingston's highest-scoring games this season have come with yours truly in attendance.) It made someone prone to overthinking banish any thoughts of Doug Springer and Larry Mavety for 2½ hours, which you readers will know is saying something.

It has 475 days since Doug Springer promised to do "whatever it takes" to bring a winner to Kingston.

Cuma out, 67's fall to Fronts (Chris Stevenson, Sun Media)

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