Big plans for Spitfires

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:11 AM ET

Bob Boughner and Warren Rychel plan to bring respectability to the franchise they grew up watching and purchased on Monday but the Windsor Spitfires slowly are climbing out of the mud themselves.

Mired in controversy early in the season thanks to a highly publicized hazing incident and an on-ice fight between Steve Downie and Akim Aliu, the Spits have made a commendable recovery and are two points behind the Plymouth Whalers for first place in the Ontario Hockey League's West Division.

"I think the things that happened made us a lot stronger and there are not too many teams that can say they went through what we did," said Cal O'Reilly, who leads the Spits with 75 points. "It's a huge part of why we're doing so well now."

Boughner, a defenceman with the Colorado Avalanche, and Rychel, a former NHL player who scouts for the Phoenix Coyotes, will take over the club along with Peter Dobrich seven days after the conclusion of the Spits' season.

Boughner, who will begin a vacation today in Mexico before rejoining the Avs after the Olympic break, said he was bothered by the negative stories the Spits have seemed to produce every few years for the past decade or so.

"Establishing the pride and tradition here again is No. 1," said Boughner, a Windsor native who lives in nearby Tecumseh in the off-season. "I would hear things before and just cringe. I want to put the word out to kids and prospects that Windsor will be a premier place to play."

Rumours have Bobby Jones as the Spits coach next season. Jones and Boughner were teammates with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the late 1980s. Jones is an assistant coach with the Sudbury Wolves.

BRIEFLY

The Canadian Hockey League has gone ahead with a plan to use the day before the Memorial Cup final as a day off for the finalists. The 2006 Cup in Moncton, N.B., will start on May 19, with the title game on May 28 ... Spits goalie Anthony Guadagnolo, one of many acquisitions that has gone well for Windsor this season, was named OHL player of the week.


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