Saturday, May 02, 2009

Fronts: The whole selling hope thing

The first draft of The Gilmour Era looked a lot like a Larry Mavety draft.

Ours is not to say whom the Kingston Frontenacs should have taken in the Ontario Hockey League's priority selection. No one knows for certain with 16-year-old hockey players. It's the sporting equivalent of trying to parallel park with pizza dough over your eyes. The point is simply that Frontenacs owner Doug Springer and his general mangler (not a typo) are making hometown hero Doug Gilmour the point man on all things hockey-related, yet their selections today followed some of Mavety's patterns. No one is a cynic on draft day, however. You're always hoping for the best as a fan.

(First things first: Read Mike Koreen's profile on Kingston Vees goalie Shawn Sirman.)

The hope on draft day is always that it's the next step toward that long-awaited victory parade down Princess St. in Kingston, ending at Springer Market Square, when the Frontenacs finally win a playoff round the Memorial Cup. The Fronts had four of the first 42 selections, including No. 2 overall selection Alan Quine from Ottawa, and eight among the first 102, so there was a chance to improve the team's overall talent level. The hope is always that they're going to have a winning team some day, but it's hard not to notice how Mavety didn't deviate from some of the tendencies that have marked his previous efforts.
  • Get some big guys who can put the puck in the net. The first three picks went for forwards. After Alan Quine ("nifty centreman," is that the right cliché?) in the first round, Kingston used its two second-rounders on 6-foot-1, 205-lb. Steven Broek from the Belleville area (he had a big tournament at the OHL Cup) and Brett Morgan from Mississauga, listed at 6-1, 180. They can use some size up front. Most of the message-board scuttlebutt says Morgan plays with some edge.

  • Draft local, they might actually report. Two defencemen off the same Brockville-area AAA midget team, Clark Seymour and Ben Hutton, were taken in the third round (32nd overall) and fifth round (100th overall).

    At least this was no repeat of 2006, when the Fronts didn't take a d-man until the eighth round. That played no part in the team having one of the worst defensive records in the league the past two seasons. It was a coincidence, like everything else which happens with the Fronts.

    Only a jackass would ever use the team's record over of an arbitrary timespan like, say, the last 11 seasons to build an argument that's it's not a good idea for Doug Springer to give Larry Mavety a new three-year contract.

  • It's never too early to pick a goalie! You cannot go wrong by being slave to conventional thinking, especially with the position which is the toughest to evaluate at any level of hockey, let alone with 16-year-olds. Frank Palazzese was considered the third-best goalie available, so you better believe Kingston took him when he was still there in the fourth round, 69th overall. The thing is, they need goaltending.

    Here is hoping Palazzese becomes the first goalie to be drafted and developed by the Frontenacs since Andrew Raycroft at the turn of the century (the 21st, not the 20th, wiseass).

    Palazzese is the first goalie Kingston has taken this high since Matt Hoyle in 2006. Hoyle's life, it's sad to report, has completely fallen to pieces after he passed on the Frontenacs, to point he is now at some school called Harvard University.

    At least he did not end up in a bad way like the former No. 2 overall choice who spurned the Kingston Frontenacs, Wes O'Neill, of whom Mavety said last August, "Last I heard, he was in the East Coast league." (O'Neill, who got a free four-year education at Notre Dame, has since made his NHL debut this season with the Colorado Avalanche.)

  • Love those London-area kids, but do they love you back? Some Googling will turn up speculation that centre Ryan Davidson (fifth round, 97th overall) could have gone as high as the third round. Davidson is from the same London, Ont., midget program as two players from Mavety's 2005 draft who never panned out for Kingston, Andrew Wilson and Justin Taylor. Taylor, who was taken around the same point (104th overall) as Davidson, never reported to Kingston, which traded him to, wait for it, the London Knights.

  • Try to appease the ass-talkers. Goodness knows a lot of bandwidth and bile has been spent pointing out the Belleville Bulls have a slightly better draft record than Kingston, not that there is any carryover into the on-ice results. Coincidence, eh?

    In 2005, the Bulls turned up future NHL first-rounder Eric Tangradi, who's from the Philadelphia area, and future two-time OHL goalie of the year Mike Murphy, a Kingston native, in the middle rounds. This time around, Kingston took a forward named Eric from Pennsylvania and a goalie from Kingston. Here's hoping Eric Neiley and Nathan Perry, the sixth and eighth-rounder, will turn out OK.

    None of this is meant to say you can infer anything about a player based on who else the team might have taken. But wouldn't you feel a lot better about the team drafting a goalie, or a player from a particular town, if it had fared better in that regard?

  • Will they play somewhere close to Peoria? Thirteenth-round pick A.J. Jarosz is the second player from Illinois whom Mavety has taken in the past three years, though probably not as quid pro quo for apparently renting out the team nickname. The previous player was Cody Murphy, who is set to join the NCAA Frozen Four runners-up, Miami (Ohio), next season. At least the Fronts had good taste.
Your guess is as good as any how it's going to turn out, as a fan, you have to do your part to sell hope. The future would seem so much brighter if it wasn't for that crazy little thing called memory.


Sam said...

I'm kinda in the same boat. Don't really know anything about any of these guys. Hopefully some of them pull through...

Anonymous said...

for what its worth, raycroft wasnt drafted by the fronts....i think the last goalie they drafted that turned out to be half decent was tyler moss.

sager said...

Thanks for the correction; I wasn't following the Fronts too closely during my university years (1996-2000) so sometimes those facts can be stubborn things for me.

Tyler Moss, eh? To put that in perspective, I was in high school when he played for the Fronts. Not only that, but he wasn't drafted by Mavety.

Anonymous said...

For all you Fronts fans out there just to let you know, your getting a really good player in Eric Neiley. I go to school with him, and he's just a tremendous player. Coming from the Philadelphia area i think he didn't get much notoriety, but if he decides to join the Fronts, he'll be a treat to watch

Anonymous said...

i went to school with eric neiley too and i have to agree with annonymous up here ^^.