Couture era begins with 67's

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

The 67's begin 2005 training camp this morning at the Civic Centre, which means the Logan Couture Show is about to begin.

The 17-year-old centre arrives on the scene with a load of hype attached, having been made Brian Kilrea's top pick at the OHL draft in May.

And Kilrea, who remains behind the bench for yet another season, is setting the bar high for the kid right off the bat.

"We know he's going to come in here and make a contribution to this team right away," said Kilrea, the GM and coach, beginning his 31st season with the club -- 30th as coach.

Three months ago, Couture waited at his London home for the OHL draft, expecting to be chosen first overall by Oshawa.

A LOT OF HYPE

But the league, in a late decision, made 15-year-old John Tavares eligible for selection as a special exemption.

So the Generals, who had all but told Couture he'd be taken No. 1, picked up Tavares, much to the distaste of the Couture clan who claimed foul.

The Couture family let OHL clubs know that Logan might not play in the league and that other options to play were being considered.

The 67's gambled and took him after 10 clubs passed.

Then it took some coaxing by Kilrea and 67's owner Jeff Hunt to convince him to come to Ottawa.

It's a good thing for the 67's, too, as the club heads into camp thin at centre. Overager Julian Talbot returns in the middle, with sophomores Thomas Kiriakou and Pat Ouellette also getting a look.

The 67's have depth at all other positions.

At left wing, veteran Bryan Bickell leads a group that includes Jamie McGinn, coming off a splendid rookie year, big Jamie VanderVeeken, acquired before the trade deadline from the Soo, Slovakian import Tibor Radulay, rookie Shea Kewin, a fourth-round pick in 2004, and 2005 third-rounder Joe Pleckaitis.

The right side has high-scoring overager Chris Hulit, feisty sophomore Aaron Alphonso and rookie Patrick Daley, the club's second pick in the May draft.

On defence, veterans Derek Joslin, Brodie Beard, Elgin Reid, David Jarram and Robbie Lawrance lead the way, along with Czech import rookie Jakub Vojta, the top pick in the European draft.

The club has veterans Anthony Guadagnolo and Matthew Spezza in goal if last year's starter Danny Battochio doesn't return. Both, especially Guadagnolo, performed well when Battochio missed time on two separate stretches due to a shoulder injury.


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