There's a Kingston connection with the awful story about Ben Fanelli, the Kitchener Rangers rookie defenceman who is in intensive care with skull and facial fractures.
The firsts-thing-first hoping Fanelli has a full recovery (not the same as whether he'll return to competitive hockey). It was not a head shot although it did look like Michael Lianbas, the 20-year-old Erie Otters player, took a good three full strides before hitting Fanelli, who had turned his back to play the puck up the boards behind his own goal.
The odd part is Fanelli went in the fourth round of the OHL draft in May, one round after the Rangers selected forward Keli Grant, a Kingston boy who attends Ernestown Secondary School, where my mother teaches. Mike Koreen, the Kingston Whig-Standard's excellent sports editor, wrote a while back about how Grant's experience this fall "will hit home for those who feel it's tough to force 15-or 16-year-olds to make such an important decision about their athletic future at an early age."
Perhaps that's where the debate is, whether it's necessarily good to force 16-year-olds to skate alongside 20-year-olds. For every player who's ready for it emotionally and physically, there are a few who are not, speaking generally.
The Rangers kept Fanelli instead of Grant to fill out their maximum allotment of three 16-year-old players. Grant ended up being caught up in a numbers game in Kitchener and with his hometown Kingston Kimco Voyageurs Junior A, who are only allowed two 16-year-olds (one of whom is his twin, Kris Grant.) He also lost his NCAA eligibility in the process by playing in an exhibition game with the Rangers.
Needless to say, all of that is a trifle compared to what is ahead for Fanelli and his family. Strange how that works. (Bob McKenzie might have Twitter updates on Fanelli later.)
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