May 18, 2012
Memorial Cup gets some discipline
By RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency
SHAWINIGAN, QUE. - There's a new sheriff at the 2012 Memorial Cup.
Three of them, actually.
The Canadian Hockey League will deal with disciplinary matters in Shawinigan this week through a committee of three high-ranking officials -- OHL vice-president Ted Baker, Western league vice-president of hockey Richard Doerksen and Quebec league executive vice-president Marcel Patenaude.
Last year in Mississauga, former NHL executive Brian O'Neill served as disciplinary chairman and handed out the first Cup suspension in 12 years. It was a controversial one-game ban given to Kootenay Ice defenceman Brayden McNabb for a violent elbow to the head of Owen Sound star forward Joey Hishon.
McNabb returned to help his team knock out the OHL champs in the Cup tie-breaker. He played 25 games for the Buffalo Sabres this season.
Hishon, a Colorado Avalanche first-rounder, is still recovering from a concussion stemming from the hit. The Stratford, Ont., native missed his entire season and there is no timetable for a return.
In basketball, a blocked shot ranks among the sport's most thrilling plays.
There is still debate over its appeal in hockey.
Statisticians are starting to count them, but in a game still hungry for offence, there are long-time hockey men such as Bob Gainey suggesting ways to make it harder to block shots.
All London Knights veteran forward Austin Watson knows is that he isn't going to stop.
"I believe there's more of an appreciation for it," said the Nashville Predators first-rounder, who grew up in Ann Arbor, Mich., where he attended university hoops games. "It's nice to be recognized for it. It's one of those little things you have to do to win, and on our team, everyone does it. It's not just one guy."
Saint John forward Danick Gauthier had plenty of incentive to put together a monster overage season for the defending Memorial Cup champions.
"I talked to my mom and dad at the start of the year and if I wanted to sign a pro contract, this was my last chance," the 20-year-old forward from Repentigny, Que., said. "I knew I had to have a big year. I put as my goal to score 30 goals and have 65 points."
It was lofty. His previous junior hockey best was 13. This year, he scored 47 times (60 including the playoffs) and is playing on a forward line with NHL first-rounders Charlie Coyle and Jonathan Huberdeau.
He took a staggering leap forward and achieved his goal. He recently signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning and will go to training camp in the fall.