No player in this Memorial Cup will end up being a higher NHL draft pick than Taylor Hall is next year.
Every hockey fan in Rimouski knows it but the demands on the second-year forward’s time haven’t even been as arduous as they normally are in Windsor.
“Some autographs, yeah, but if I had a car like (Rimouski forward Patrice Cormier) with my name and number on the side in Windsor, I would get stopped at every red light,” the Spitfires star said with a laugh. “I’m a little more recognized there. Here, they treat their players like heroes. I would like to spend a year here just to see what it’s like.
“In Ontario, it’s a little bit more white-collar at the rink. In London, I think people go to the game to pre-drink before they go out.”
Kelowna captain Colin Long said Rockets teammate Jamie Benn helped bring this club together with his scoring exploits this year — but his fists chipped in, too.
Benn is currently tied for the Cup scoring lead with Drummondville’s Yannick Riendeau, who was eliminated Friday night by Windsor.
“He’s just one of those guys who does whatever you need,” Long said of the Dallas Stars draft pick. “He fought (Spokane Chiefs top gun) Drayson Bowman this year. It was a way better fight than when Collin (Rockets defenceman Collin Bowman, Drayson’s younger brother) fought him. That one, they didn’t do much. Some of Jamie’s are on YouTube. He’s the kind of guy where we’ve seen him drop the gloves and protect players after they’ve been hit from behind or another dirty play.
“He makes people accountable.”
Windsor’s Ryan Ellis didn’t win the Canadian Hockey League’s defenceman of the year but the top coach — his Spitfires bench boss Bob Boughner — made the case for him again.
Vancouver’s talented Jonathon Blum, who hails from Southern California where it was “tough to find ice”, took home the honours.
“I didn’t see Jon Blum play a lot but he must have had one incredible year to win it over Ellis,” Boughner said. “I know Ryan will be the favourite for the award next year. I don’t know if maybe the world juniors hurt him for it stats-wise because he missed a bunch of games at that time.”
All week, one of the must-see attractions in Rimouski is the travelling exhibition Rocket Richard (The Legend — The Legacy) being housed at the city’s museum.
Display items include the last sweater Richard wore with the Montreal Canadiens, hockey sticks used to score some of his record-breaking goals, his Hall of Fame induction ring and an original copy of his retirement speech.
Another is an old contract that stated Richard was to be given $100 for every goal he scored. No wonder he always had fire in his eyes when he approached the net.