As the Kingston Kimbo Voyageurs continue on their incredible run to the national championship, the cross-town Frontenacs have to have been keeping their eye on some local players to boost their roster.
Unfortunately for the Fronts and the OHL in general, the new avenue for many players is to take the NCAA route. Today the Kingston Whig Standard reported that 16-year-old Scott Harrington says he will play at the U.S. college level instead of the OHL. Harrington seems to be following in the footsteps of Frontenac draft choice Brock Higgs heading to the States. Bringing in local talent has been an issue for the Frontenacs and things do not look like they are going to change soon.
The main thought behind these players taking the NCAA route seems to be education. Many players are looking for something to drop back on if hockey doesn't work out for them. Harrington has a quote in The Whig further explaining his decision, "The most important thing on my mind is to get an education and have a solid backup plan. The NCAA is a great way to go and I am really looking forward to hopefully pursuing that."
It does make sense considering players like Harrington don't look like they have a real future playing hockey beyond a junior level. On the other hand many average players enter the OHL and start catching the eyes of NHL scouts with breakout performances, but the odds are never brilliant. What this really means though that the Frontenacs could be letting another quality local player through their grip.
With Kingston natives flourishing across the league in different cities, letting local talent go is something that Fronts fans are starting to become paranoid about. Kingstonian Mike Murphy, has been named OHL goaltender of the year for the second year running. He was also passed on twice in the OHL draft by Kingston. Another Kingstonian, Taylor Hall, looks like he could be leading the Windsor Spitfires to an OHL title with three points in last night's 10-1 win over Brampton in the first game of the OHL final. This is something that the Frontenacs have done in the past and that they may be doing again.
Higgs, Kingston's fifth-round draft pick in the 2008 draft, has excelled with the Voyageurs. He was the league's leading scorer in the playoffs with 39 points in 25 games. It appears that Higgs will also shun Kingston and the OHL in favour of an agreement with Canisius College in Buffalo.
Higgs recently said that he had not yet made a decision but all signs point to him heading south of the border. Credit to Fronts GM Larry Mavety for appealing to Higgs to stay in Kingston, but a winning hockey team would no doubt help his cause.
With the Voyageurs heading to Victoria for a national championship starting this weekend, they must be doing something right. Maybe it is time that the Frontenacs start to work on their relationship with the team and its players at a younger age making sure that the Higgs and Harrington situations are isolated ones. The Fronts never really have had a positive relationship with the Voyageurs except for the fact that Higgs played for the Voyageurs after being drafted by the Fronts.
One of the stranger chapters in the Voyageurs-Frontenacs relationship came at the Vees' "good luck" party at the Invista Centre yesterday when the Voyageurs organization thanked the Frontenacs for waiving Kevin Christmas, Justin Levac and Stephane Chabot.
That was a bit puzzling to me considering that it wasn't as if the Fronts gave the Voyageurs a real lift, they just gave them players they didn't want anymore. Point is for more local players to come though the Frontenacs the relationship with the Voyageurs will have to change, and it's not up to the Voyageurs start changing anything...
With the OHL draft coming up and the local talent looking slim, it is pretty much set in stone that Kingston will pick centre, Alan Quine with the second overall selection in the draft. Although he appears to be highly rated by many scouts across the province it still isn't the same satisfaction that drafting a successful, local player late on brings.
As Neate pointed out to me earlier today, it has been 557 days ago since Frontenacs owner Doug Springer promised to do "whatever it takes" to bring a winning team to Kingston.
Cooper leads Kingston to RBC tournament (Charlottetown Guardian)
Vees star plans to shun OHL; Fronts won't stray from plans; Vees give thanks to many, including Fronts (Kingston Whig-Standard)