67's gamble on snubbed centre

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

If Logan Couture fulfills his agents' promise and says no to the Ontario Hockey League, he will have to decline an invitation from a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The junior B centre with St. Thomas, who was destined to be picked first overall by the Oshawa Generals in the OHL entry draft before the league decided to make underager John Tavares eligible this week, slipped all the way to Brian Kilrea's Memorial Cup-bound Ottawa 67's at the No. 12 spot yesterday.

Couture, who was upset about the OHL seemingly preventing him from being the top pick, had his agents send a letter to all teams Friday, saying he would not report. But Kilrea, Ottawa's general manager/coach, wasn't scared off.

"We've expressed a great interest in Logan and we're hoping we can convince him otherwise and let him know we want him here," said Kilrea, who was back in Ottawa yesterday after his team lost 4-2 to the host London Knights in Game 1 of the OHL final on Friday. "We're hoping he'll come and make us a better team."

Kilrea and 67's owner Jeff Hunt are hoping to meet with the London-based Couture family before Game 2 today. But agent John Thornton said there are no plans for Logan Couture to sit down with the 67's. Logan and his father, Chet, both declined comment yesterday, days after Chet sent e-mails to reporters expressing his disappointment.

"We're really disappointed in the process," said Thornton, adding Couture could play in the USHL or stay in junior B next season. "He was going to be the No. 1 pick and he had his dreams pulled from right under him. I had the utmost respect for (OHL commissioner) David Branch before this. This is Gary Bettman-esque.

"The OHL closed the door (on Couture not being the first pick). We're not going to close any doors on Logan Couture.

The OHL picked a 14-year-old and didn't want to lose him, but they forgot about a 15-year-old."

Another notable player not planning to go to the OHL, Toronto Marlboros forward Sam Gagner, son of ex-NHLer Dave Gagner, went to the Knights in the fourth round. Sam is expected to play for Sioux City in the USHL next season.

"He's so good that we had to see if we could talk him into coming," Knights general manager Mark Hunter said.

Gagner's teammate, Justin Vaive, son of ex-Maple Leaf Rick Vaive, was picked by the Sudbury Wolves in the third round. Justin is expected to play for the U.S. under-17 team.

The Sarnia Sting selected Timmins centre Marc Katic at No. 2 overall, the Saginaw Sting locked up Stratford winger Zack Torquato at No. 3, the Kingston Frontenacs took Clarington centre Luke Pither at No. 4 and the Guelph Storm opted for London defenceman Drew Doughty at No. 5. Highly regarded American defenceman Nick Petrecki, who also expects to play in the USHL, went ninth to the Plymouth Whalers.


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