Couture leaning toward joining 67's

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

OTTAWA -- The smile on Logan Couture's face was worth a thousand words.

"Everything happens for a reason, so hopefully something good happens. And right now, it looks like something good might happen," the 16-year-old Londoner said last night.

Judging from his reaction, it appears he will decide to play with the Ottawa 67's after being the 12th player selected in last Saturday's OHL draft.

Couture will make his choice known soon.

"Everyone I've talked with has said this is probably one of best organizations in the OHL. (It has) a great owner (Jeff Hunt), a great rink.

"The coach (Brian Kilrea) is a Hall of Famer. It would be a good choice if that's what I do."

Couture, who was here with his family as guests of the team, was surrounded by local media prior to last night's Game 4 of the OHL championship series between the 67's and London Knights.

The youngster was even obliging fans with autographs. One had a sign that said "Ottawa Is The Place To Be, Logan."

Couture was to be selected first overall -- he was the top-rated player born in 1989 -- until the OHL granted 14-year-old John Tavares of Oakville "exceptional player status" three days before the draft.

Oshawa GM Brad Selwood told Couture six weeks before the draft he was their man. But when Tavares became available, Selwood announced he was picking Tavares.

That soured the Coutures and a letter went to all teams less than nine hours before the draft advising Logan wouldn't play in the OHL.

Some observers felt it was the family's way of making a statement. There were also concerns about some of the teams that might draft Logan.

"From the beginning of the year, I said I didn't want to go to a few teams," he said. "Right now, I'm kind of like 60-40 (in favour of Ottawa)."

Couture was accompanied by his father Chet, mother Lori and brother Judson. They watched the game from the owner's suite.

"I think it's probably fair to say the way things unfolded, we were suddenly in a position of being unprepared and we wanted to step back and re-assess," said Chet Couture.

"Now that the dust has settled, we wish John Tavares all the best, and we're here out of respect to the Ottawa organization."

He said Ottawa is "a big city but every everybody here has been small-town friendly, and that's very pleasing to see."

Logan, a graduate of the London Junior Knights, played the past season with the St. Thomas Stars.

He was rookie of the year in the Western junior B league, with 24 goals and 46 points in the regular season, plus 13 points in 16 playoff games.

Couture has even been the subject of letters to the editor in the Ottawa Sun this week.

"Put the temper tantrum away, accept one of life's pitfalls and get on with playing the game you are so good at," wrote Gene Hamelin of nearby Orleans.

"Show the OHL that you are much better than they," the letter continued. "This scenario smacks of another era, Eric Lindros."


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