Where in hell did Sean Avery come from? many ask these days.
I come from the same places, and I met him there, so I believe I can answer that question.
And -- no -- we're not related.
I'm getting a kick out of following the career of Sean Avery as he is a professional hockey player my size -- 5 foot 9 inches -- with my last name.
I have been following his career ever since I lived in Owen Sound and he moved in, to play with the Platers, in the OHL, and since I moved to Pickering, which is his old hometown, and especially since he got traded to the New York Rangers and became the catalyst that took them to the Stanley Cup play-offs in 2007 and made them a much better team in 2008. I use a picture of his hockey sweater, number 16, with the name Avery on the back, as my avatar or image on Facebook.
In the new NHL, minus the big goons, Avery has become an enforcer, fighting anyone and everyone, and throwing everybody off their game.
In his first season in the NHL, Avery led the league in penalty minutes, with over 260. During the lockout, he went to Finland to play for the Pelicans, but then went to Detroit to play for the Motor City Mechanics of the IHL. He scored a lot of goals and got a lot of penalties, like Gordie Howe.
He had four Gordie Howe hat-tricks in his first three years in the NHL. He is a very physical player and is considered a pest. After getting traded from the L.A. Kings to the New York Rangers, he scored eight goals and got 12 assists in 29 games. His team was18-9-3 with Avery in their lineup and 9-13-3 without him, in his first full year as a Ranger.
In a recent poll on Bench Report, 25% said the Rangers should re-acquire Sean Avery.
The options were: Fire Renney, Trade Petr Prucha, hire Sundin or Shanny, or reacquire Sean Avery.
One quarter of the votes went for trading Prucha. Nobody wanted to fire Renney.
Most voters agreed the Rangers should re-hire Sean Avery.
Our story begins in peaceful Pickering, on the shores of Lake Onntario, right beside Toronto. It was a small, sleepy town, until they made it the home of the Pickering nuclear power generating station.
When Sean Avery was born, back in 1980, Pickering A, the first of four nuclear reactors in the community next to Toronto, had been shut down and Pickering B would not sart up until 1983.
Pickering is one of the world's biggest nuclear generating facilities, with two CANDU reactors and a total output of 3,100 megawatts -- enough to serve a city of one and a half million people.
The population of Pickering, today, is about 100,000 people.
What impact can a nuclear power plant have on the psyche of a pee-wee hockey player?
Do you think a nuclear power plant down the street from the hockey rink would inspire a young Canadian kid to become a peacenik, a nuclear protester, a non-violent, Zen Buddhist, meditator? Or an explosive hockey player?
Sean Avery is one of the most famous people from Pickering. Also on the list are Glenn Clark, head coach of the Toronto Rock; Glen Healey, who played goal for the New York Rangers when they won the Stanley Cup in 1994; Spider Jones, a professional boxer; and Perdita Felician, the hurdler who went to the Olympics.
It's also the hometown of Ernie Coombs, better known as Mr. Dressup; Tyler Stewart of the Barenaked Ladies; and Neil Young.
The CBC/Hollywood production of the television show called Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans was filmed in Pickering in the 1950s. The Canadian television show Paradise Falls' first season was filmed nearby, as was David Cronenberg's Dead Zone.
The 1994 comedy "The Ref" with Dennis Leary and Kevin Spacy was filmed in part at Port Pickering Marina, on Frenchmans Bay in Pickering.
The 1995 family/adventure film Salt Water Moose starring Timothy Dalton and Lolita Davidovitch was filmed in and around Frenchmans Bay
The 1998 comedy/action film The Big Hit with Mark Wahlberg, Lou Diamond Phillips, Avery Brooks, Christina Applegate, and Elliot Gould, was filmed in part in Pickering.
I met Brian McFarlane, the former host of Hockey Night In Canada, in Pickering. When I was the Writer In Residence at the Pickering Public Library, I had a book published about Alexandra Orlando, Canada’s six-time rhythmic gymnastics champion, who was on her way to the Olympics. The Pickering Library threw me a book launch and invited Brian McFarlane to join Alexandra Orlando and me for dinner and on the stage.
McFarlane told me he wrote a book about hockey back in 1968. It was a first for Canada, believe it or not. It proved to be like the first goal in a hockey game that was tight but turns into a high scoring affair, a lop-sided victory for books and for hockey.
Brian McFarlane inspired me to write this book.
He said my first sports book was good but I should write about hockey.
He told me he wanted to write a hockey memoir and call it “Get The Puck Out”, but his publishers couldn’t handle the play on words.
Hmmm, I said. “Good idea ….”
MacFarlane invited me to one of his games, too, I took him up on both his suggestions.
Every Saturday morning the former host of Hockey Night In Canada plays with a big group of NHL Oldtimers at the arena in Pickering that is attached to the Rec Centre I belonged to, a short walk from the Pickering Public Library.
MacFarlane and a group of NHL Oldtimers plays every Saturday morning at one of the ice pads at the Rec Centre in Pickering.
They have been getting together on Saturday mornings for a long scrimmage for years. I never heard of this event and when I went to see them play I was amazed to discover I was the lone fan in the stands. There on the ice in front of me were two dozen of my heroes from the Original Six and the era of the WHA and the NHL expansion. They could still skate and pass and make plays like pros and they had the presence of superstars.
Their Saturday morning shinny sessions were not a secret event and they were not paid performances. It was just a bunch of guys getting together for the love of the game – but these guys were superstars in the NHL when it was great.
Pickering is the home of the Pickering Panthers Junior A team, the birthplace of Sean Avery, and a group of NHL Oldtimers plays every Saturday morning at one of the ice pads in the Pickering Recreation Centre.
The Pickering Panthers are a Tier II Junior "A" ice hockey team from Pickering, Ontario, Canada. They are a part of the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League but also used to be a part of the Metro Junior A Hockey League. Glenn Healy, Sean McMorrow, and Joe Nieuwendyk all went from the Pickering Panthers to the NHL.
Sean Avery grew up in a few places in Canada and was never one of those can't-miss kids.
He started out in minor hockey playing goal in the Cedar Hill house league in Scarborough, right beside Pickering, then remained in the league as a forward.
When his parents moved to Kitchener, he made a huge jump, the kind of jump that would foreshadow his future in hockey.
He went from house league to triple-A. That's just not done by anybody. But Avery did it.
After Kitchener, the family moved to Cole Harbour, N.S., where the legend of Sidney Crosby had not yet begun to grow. Avery played triple-A in Cole Harbour.
The Avery family moved back to the Toronto area and playing his final season of minor hockey with the Markham Islanders of the Greater Toronto Hockey League.
He was too small to make much of an impact in junior, the scouts thought
The Sean Avery story picks up the pace when the Pickering boy left his family to follow the Canadian dream and play junior A hockey in the Ontario Hockey League.
That was when I met Sean Avery.
He was a sixteen-year-old kid, playing for the Owen Sound Platers, while I was a teacher of sixteen-year-old high school students, and a soccer coach, in Owen Sound -- with seasons tickets for the Platers.
It's true I used those tickets as prizes to inspire my students to go after greater academic goals, and I lobbied to change the name of the hometown team, but I was a fan, even if I didn't go to all the home games.
The Ontario Hockey League is one of three Major Junior hockey leagues in the Canadian Hockey League. Approximately 20% of players on active rosters in the National Hockey League have come from the OHL. Over half of the hockey players in the NHL are from the CHL.
Junior hockey in Ontario began back in 1896.
The league is for players aged 15-20, but it is rare for a fifteen year old to play in the OHL.
There are 20 teams in the OHL; 17 are based in Ontario, 2 teams in Michigan, and 1 team in Pennsylvania.
OHL clubs play a 68 game schedule. Ninety-five per cent of the players in the league go to high school or college. Ninety per cent of OHL games are scheduled between Thursday and Sunday so the players don't miss too much school.
The OHL has an event like the NHL draft called the Priority Selection to select players aged 16 and 17 from Ontario, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, and other designated U.S. states.
A growing number of OHL players come from other countries, especially the former USSR and Scandinavia.
In 1989 the Holodys moved the Guelph Platers to Owen Sound, Ontario, keeping the name "Platers", for some reason. The city of Owen Sound proved to be a strong base for junior hockey. The smallest city in the OHL showed their team an enormous amount of support. People travel to the little city from all the small towns for miles around, on the Bruce Peninsula and the area known as Central Western Ontario.
Owen Sound had a two time Memorial Cup champion in the Owen Sound Greys in 1924 and 1927, and the Owen Sound Mercurys of the OHA Senior hockey league were the 1954 Allan Cup Champions.
The best year for the Platers was the 1998-99 season. Owen Sound had a mostly veteran team that achieved their best regular finish in the club's history, and also played into the third round of the playoffs.
Seventeen of the Owen Sound Platers went on to play in the National Hockey League: Sean Avery, Andrew Brunette, Jeff Christian, Ryan Christie, Todd Hlushko, Brent Johnson, Greg Jacina, Jason MacDonald, Adam Mair, Kirk Maltby, Chris Minard, Wayne Primeau, Curtis Sanford, Dan Snyder, Jamie Storr, Scott Walker, Kevin Weekes, and Sean Whyte.
Despite some mediocre seasons, support for the team remained strong. When the Holodys decided to sell the team, in 2000, several Owen Sound businesspeople banded together to purchase the team. The team remained in Owen Sound and the new ownership group elected for a name change and came up with the "Owen Sound Attack".
The Platers uniform was as bad as their name, which nobody understood. The team colours were red, yellow, and black, and the home uniform was red with a lot of yellow and a little black, featuring the team crest and logo on the chest, with a big lightning bolt in a circle with the team's name.
It was had to tell what the lightning bolt was or what it had to do with the team name or with hockey. It alluded to the electricity used in the plating process.
(In case you’re wondering, plating describes surface-covering where a metal is deposited on a conductive surface. Plating is used to decorate objects, for corrosion inhibition, to improve solderability, to harden, to improve wearability, to reduce friction, to improve paint adhesion, to alter conductivity, for radiation shielding, and other purposes. Jewelry typically uses plating to give a silver or gold finish. There are several plating methods. In electroplating, an ionic metal is supplied with electrons to form a non-ionic coating. What that has to do with hockey, I have no idea.)
Sean Avery may be like Avery the famous pirate. While he was in Owen Sound, he may have been influence by William Avery Bishop, one of the city’s most famous sons. William Avery Bishop is famous for taking on the Red Baron. Sean Avery went to high school in Billy Bishop's hometown.
The World War I flying ace and Victoria Cross winner William Avery "Billy" Bishop, was Canada's leading pilot in the war. He was a veteran of Vimy Ridge. Bishop is also one of the few to have tangled with the Red Baron and survived. He forced the German pilot to retreat in a damaged aircraft.
The Billy Bishop Regional Airport in the nearby Municipality of Meaford was named after him. His modest gravesite is in the city's Greenwood Cemetery. His boyhood home in Owen Sound is now a museum dedicated to his life and to Canada's aviation history.
The town was also the home of the artist Tom Thomson (buried in the nearby village of Leith). Thomson is known as the eighth member of the famous Canadian collection of artists known as The Group of Seven, just as Georgian Bay is known as the sixth of the five Great Lakes.
Owen Sound is also where Norman Bethune went to high school and taught high school.
The surgeon, Dr. Norman Bethune, was an avowed communist and he was also a pioneer of public, or socialized, medicine. He gained notoriety for his innovative medical work during the Spanish Civil War and with Chinese army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. He invented the mobile army support hospital, also known as M.A.S.H.
Legendary hockey broadcaster Bill Hewitt was once sports director of the local AM radio station, CFOS.
Bethune, the controversial and iconoclast Canadian hero, said, the true artist is "the product and the preceptor of his times" and his duty was to disturb.
Sean Avery is the perfect product of the time and place where he was born and grew up, playing minor hockey in Pickering and Junior A in the OHL in the 1990s and the NHL during the Bush era.
His father, Al Avery, a teacher who played hockey in Sudbury while at Laurentian University, discounts the influence of William Avery Bishop, Norman Bethune, Tom Thomson, or anyone else, other than his mother. He says he was born this way.
In his first year in Owen Sound, Sean Avery played 58 games with the Platers, scored ten goals, got 21 assists, for 31 points, and earned 86 penalty minutes He had a goal in the play-offs, too. That was a very good start for a sixteen year old rookie in the OHL.
In his second year in Owen Sound, Avery played 47 games for the Platers, scored 13 goals, had 41 assists, for 54 points, and earned 105 penalty minutes. He played eleven playoff games, scored one goal, had eleven assists, and 23 PIMs.
The next year, he played 28 games for the Platers, scored 22 goals, got 23 assists, for 45 points, and earned 70 PIMS, but then got traded to the Kingston Frontenacs, where he played 33 games scored 14 goals, for 25 points, and got 88 PIMS, plus a goal and three assists in the playoffs. His point totals were pretty impressive: 84 points in 61 games, with 36 goals and 48 assists, plus 158 PIMS, in the regular season.
In his second year in Kingston, he played 55 games for the Frontenacs, scored 28 goals, added 56 assists, for 84 points, and had 215 PIMS. In five playoff games, he added two goals and two assists and had 26 PIMs.
While we were both in Owen Sound, everybody a The Owen Sound Collegiate and Vocational Institute, a.k.a. The O.S.C.V.I., asked me about Sean Avery every day.
"Is he your son?"
"Is that how you get tickets?"
"Are you related?"
"Did you play hockey?"
They did not want to hear my stories about growing up playing hockey for the Gravenhurst Indians, or about the Junior C Bracebridge Bears, who were provincial champions, or about playing in the hometown of Ace Bailey, Roger Crozier, Wayne Rutlege, and Dave King, or even about Bobby Orr playing his minor hockey in Muskoka.
All they wanted to hear about was Sean Avery and the Platers players who already had NHL careers predicted for them: Adam Maier, Jamie Storr, and Ryan Brunette.
Mair was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs but still played for the Platers. Jamie Storr starred in goal with Team Canada's juniors, winning gold medals in Europe. Ryan Barnett was the team captain and fan favourite.
What is it like to join a team with players like that?
What do you do to stand out on a team loaded with future superstars who are older, taller, more skilled, faster, and more famous than you?
What role would be left for you to play?
Would you wait patiently in the wings for your turn to take over from Ryan and Adam?
Or was there some other way for the Pickering boy to play.
On Coach's Corner, on Hockey Night In Canada, Don Cherry said Sean Avery was a jerk when he played in Owen Sound, but we watched him play for three years and thought of him as a nuclear power generator ready to explode like Chernobyl or Three Mile Island. If the other team got him mad, they could experience The China Syndrome.
Dave Siciliano, who coached Avery in junior at Owen Sound from 1997-98, also coached his father at Lakehead University. He has said the dad was easy to coach but the son was a handful.
He did it his way.
He was an explosive hockey player and a person who would sometimes say and do things that were inappropriate.
Siciliano says Avery has matured since then.
One night when the Platers were playing in Kingston, Avery had three goals and three assists. A couple of days later Kingston General Manager Larry Mavety made a deal to get Avery to play in Kingston.
They saw Avery as an excellent hockey player who had a knack for getting people riled up.
When he got traded to the Kingston Frontenacs, the Owen Sound Platers did not want to play against Sean Avery's new team. He was, and is, the kind of player you would much rather have on your team than having to play against him.
Another Platers player in the Avery era was the young Dan Snyder. He was a kid from Elmira, a farming community an hour and a half south of Owen Sound, in western Ontario.
Snyder and Avery were opposites, in many ways, despite the fact they were teammates and had a few important things in common.
The story about the Platers team pulling Snyder off Avery while on a road trip in the team bus is well-known, as it's posted on the internet.
Avery was chirping at Snyder, eventually got under his skin, and Snyder jumped on top of him, to settle their differences with their fists.
Snyder was even smaller than Avery, but he was the team captain. Unlike Avery, he distinguished himself, in his first two years with the club, by sticking close to Andrew Brunette, when he was team captain.
Andrew Brunette won the 1992-93 Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy as the top scorer in the OHL with 62 Goals, 100 Assists and 162 Points. He also tied for the Canadian Hockey League's scoring lead.
Andrew Brunette played a lot of games, scored a lot of goals, and got a lot of assists, in his three years with the Platers. In his first year, he played 63 games, got 15 goals and 20 assists for 35 minutes; in his second year he played 66 games, got 51 goals and 47 assists for 98 points; and in his final year he played 66 games, again, but scored 62 goals and got 100 assists for a total of 162 points. That's 128 goals and 167 assists for 295 points in just 195 games.
Brunette was selected by the Washington Capitals 174th overall in the 7th round of 1993 NHL Entry Draft.
Even with those statistics and credentials, he did not click in the NHL right away.
After being drafted, he played for the Hampton Roads Admirals in the ECHL, before moving to the American Hockey League, where he played for two teams: Providence Bruins and Portland Pirates. He stayed with the Pirates until 1998, but was called up by the Capitals for the first time in the 1995–96 NHL season and played 11 games. He played 23 and 28 games in the following NHL seasons and left the AHL when he was selected in the 1998 NHL Expansion Draft by then new franchise in Nashville.
Brunette scored the Predators first goal. After playing the 1998–99 season for the Predators, he moved to the newly created Atlanta Thrashers and played two seasons there, moving to the Minnesota Wild in the 2001–02 NHL season. He scored the final goal on Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche in overtime of game 7 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on April 22, 2003.
He stayed with the Wild until 2004 and signed as a free agent for the Colorado Avalanche after the 2004–05 lock-out.
He scored the series-clinching goal for the Colorado Avalanche on April 30, 2006, against the Dallas Stars in game 5 of the 2006 Western Conference Quarterfinals. The next year was his best individual season: he averaged over a point per game for his first time in the NHL, playing with Joe Sakic.
He scored his 500th NHL career point last year.
He signed a 3-year, $7-million deal with the Minnesota Wild on July 1, 2008. This marks Brunette's second stint with the Wild (2001-02 to 2003-04).
Bruntette proved to be an Iron Man in the NHL and is currently the NHL's active leader in consecutive games played having not missed a game since the 2001-2002 season. He was at 500 games at the time of this writing.
Snyder followed in Brunette's footsteps, learned from his example, and replaced him as team captain, when Brunette was drafted in the NHL by the Washington Capitals.
Avery hung out with Adam Mair, instead. There is a well-known story, also on the internet, about the two of them and the puck bunnies who followed the Platers.
Puck bunnies, in case you have never heard of them, are the female fans who follow a team and are a lot more interested in the hockey players than the game they play. Their interest in the sport is primarily motivated by sexual attraction to the players rather than enjoyment of the game itself. Primarily a Canadian term, it was added to the second edition of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary in 2004, which defines it as follows: Puck bunny: a young female hockey fan, especially one motivated more by a desire to meet the players than by an interest in hockey. The term is somewhat analogous to the term groupie as it relates to rock and roll musicians.
The term ‘puck bunny’ is applied almost exclusively to female ice hockey fans, more interested in the sexual attractiveness of the players rather than the sport itself.
Some female fans object to the term, as they are often viewed and described as puck bunnies simply by their presence at a game, regardless of their true intentions or motivations. Other female fans embrace the use of the term as a way of making a distinction between a puck bunny and a "true" female fan of the sport.
Unlike Brunette, Snyder did not get drafted into the NHL. Like Sean Avery, he found an alternate route from the OHL to the big leagues.
Snyder came from a family of Old Order Mennonites and made his way to the NHL as a small player who fought hard for the Owen Sound Platers in the OHL, the Orlando Solar Bears of the IHL, and the Chicago Wolves of the AHL.
He helped the Bears win the Turner Cup for their league championship and he helped the Wolves to the Calder Cup.
John Monasso, author of A Season Of Loss, said Snyder reached the NHL through sheer effort, killing penalties, winning face-offs, checking, scoring, providing leadership, and adding to team toughness. He said those were characteristics which endeared Snyder to teammates and coaches alike.
Monasso also describes Snyder as tough and fearless, with a mouth that never stopped yapping, which sound a lot like another Platers' player -- Sean Avery.
Snyder played 11 games for the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2003 season and impressed his coach by going toe-to-toe in a fight with Eric Lindros, who was much bigger, and taking on other heavyweights, too. The next year, Snyder played in 39 games at the end of the season and had 10 goals, including a game winner and a short-handed goal. He had become of the those rare undrafted players to make it in the NHL -- like Sean Avery.
Everyone knows the tragic story of how Dan Snyder's hockey career and life came to an end. He was driving with his friend Dan Heatley, in his quarter of a million dollar 360 F! Spider -- a Ferrari -- when it went out of contral and crashed into the pillar of a fence. They were heading home after a practice in Atlanta just before what was going to be Snyder's first full season with the Thrashers. He was injured so badly in the crash that he was knocked unconscious, went into a coma, and never came back to life.
Dan Snyder had his number 14 retired by the Owen Sound Attack in 2003. He is remembered in Owen Sound for his leadership on the ice, and off the ice. He was twice voted his team's humanitarian of the year. The Ontario Hockey League renamed its Humanitarian of the Year award posthumously in honour of Dan Snyder.
Owen Sound is the smallest city in Ontario (and one of the smallest in Canada) to boast an OHL Major Junior Hockey Team. When I lived there, in the 1990s, Owen Sound was a hockey town with a great arena and an excellent Jr. A team with a terrible name. The O.S. Platers had been the Guelph Platers and they were once owned by a guy with a tin plating business. Owen Sound was famous, apparently, for a type of tin ceiling called an Owen Sound ceiling. Who knew? A local radio station ran a contest to rename the team and I suggested The O.S. Fighting Salmon, like the famous football team, the Fighting Irish, with a logo like the one on the Vancouver Canucks sweater of 1997.
The Canucks had just made their gone thirteenth logo and jersey changes, going from the "Stick-in-Rink to the V for victory - generally considered to be one of the worst uniforms in NHL history – to the flying skate, to a Haida-style killer whale (or orca) breaking out of a patch of ice in the form of a stylized "C".
The name O.S. Fighting Salmon would promote the local sports fishery. I could not believe there were no hockey teams with the word “Fighting” in their names. They chose the name Owen Sound Attack, instead, for some reason.
I thought it sounded like a disease or a syndrome of some sort. Help, I’m having an Owen Sound Attack.
The city has a hockey history that is long and strong, going back to the 1940s with the Owen Sound Mohawks of the OHA Senior league. In the 1946-47 season, the Mohawks made it to the league final, but were put down by the Hamilton Tigers 3-games-to-2. In 1947, the team became the Mercurys. They made it back to the OHA Senior A final again in 1951 to beat a team from Sarnia 4-games-to-2. The Mercurys faced the Fort Frances Canadians for the Allan Cup and Owen Sound won the Canadian Senior National Championship.
In 1952, the Mercurys made the finals again but lost to the Stratford Indians and in 1953, when they lost to the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen. IN 1954 the Mercurys appeared in their fourth straight league final, beat the Stratford Indians, but lost the Eastern Championship to the Northern Ontario Hockey Association's Sudbury Wolves.
In 1956-57, the Mercurys folded and Senior hockey did not return to Owen Sound until 1969 with the Owen Sound Crescents.
The Platers moved to O.S. in 1989 and became the Attack in 2000.
O.S. has given the NHL a number of players, including goalies, from Wayne Lumley to Jamie Storr. The arena is named after Lumley, who
Platers who went to the NHL include Sean Avery, Andrew Brunette, Jeff Christian, Ryan Christie, Todd Hlushko, Greg Jacina, Brent Johnson, Jason MacDonald, Adam Mair, Brian McGrattan, Kirk Maltby, Wayne Primeau, Curtis Sanford, Dan Snyder, Stefan Ruzicka, Jamie Storr, Scott Walker, Keven Weekes, and Sean Whyte. The O.S. Attack gave the NHL Mark Giordano, Greg Jacina, Brian McGrattan, Brad Richardson, Stefan Ruzicka, and Bobby Ryan.
While I was in Owen Sound, the Platers had a good team, with Andrew Brunette, Adam Mair, and Jamie Storr. We all knew we were watching three future NHLers.
Brunette debuted in the Ontario Hockey League playing for the Owen Sound Platers for three seasons between 1990 and 1993 and scored 233 points in 195 games, winning the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy, the scoring title, in 1993. He was drafted by the Washington Capitals in the seventh round, 174th overall, in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft.
After being drafted, he played for the Hampton Roads Admirals in the ECHL, before moving to the American Hockey League, where he played for two more teams that season: Providence Bruins and Portland Pirates. Brunette stayed with the Pirates until 1998, but was called up by the Capitals for the first time in the 1995-96 NHL season and played 11 games. He played 23 and 28 games in the following NHL seasons and left the AHL definitively when he was selected in the 1998 NHL Expansion Draft by new franchise Nashville Predators.
Brunette scored the Predators first goal in a 3-2 win versus the Carolina Hurricanes. After playing the 1998-99 season for the Predators, he moved to the newly created Atlanta Thrashers and played two seasons there, moving to the Minnesota Wild in the 2001-02 NHL season. He scored the final goal on Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche in overtime of game 7 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on April 22, 2003. Brunette stayed with the Wild until 2004 and signed as a free agent for the Colorado Avalanche after the 2004-05 lockout. He scored the series-clinching goal for the Colorado Avalanche on April 30, 2006, against the Dallas Stars in game 5 of the 2006 Western Conference Quarterfinals. 2006-07 was his best individual season: he averaged over a point per game for his first time in the NHL, playing with Joe Sakic.
Andrew Brunette scored his 500th NHL career point on October 26, 2007, against the Calgary Flames.
Adam Mair now plays for the Buffalo Sabres of the NHL.
Mair was drafted 84th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. He joined the Maple Leafs for five games in the 1999 Stanley Cup Playoffs, recording a goal and 14 penalty minutes. However, he spent the majority of the 1999-2000 season in the AHL with the St. John's Maple Leafs. The Leafs traded Mair at the Trade Deadline in 2001, acquiring defenseman Aki Berg from the Los Angeles Kings.
Mair split time in the 2001-2002 season between the AHL and NHL, and was hurt for a good amount of the season. The Kings decided to trade Mair to the Buffalo Sabres on July 24, in exchange for former first round draft pick Erik Rasmussen. Mair has become a popular player, with his effort and his aggression. He has not been back to the AHL since his acquisition by the Sabres.
He set a personal high in games played and assists and tied a personal record in goals in 2003-04. His 2005-06 season was plagued by concussions. He missed a total of 31 regular season games due to concussion symptoms after a collision with Tyson Nash of the Phoenix Coyotes on January 12, 2006. He missed the remainder of the 2006 regular season and the first 2 rounds of the playoffs and didn't appear for his first playoff game until game five of the third round versus the Carolina Hurricanes.
Jamie Storr currently playing for the DEG Metro Stars of the DEL or Deutsche Eishockey-Liga (German Ice Hockey League) is a high-calibre ice hockey league in Germany that has the highest number of American and Canadian players overseas. It was formed as a replacement for the Ice hockey Bundesliga. The DEG Metro Stars is the ice hockey team of the German city of Düsseldorf. It was the most successful ice hockey team in Germany for a long time and had many international players. They play their home games in the ISS Dome.
The noise in the Harry Lumley arena reminded me of the noise that echoed and was amplified by the hockey barn in my back yard when the Rutledge boys were banging up the opposition for the Gravenhurst Indians of the old Senior A league.
The Platers were enormously popular in that small city and also in the towns, villages, and settlements that surrounded it, from Flesherton and Markdale to Sauble Beach and up to the home of Wiarton Willie on the Bruce Peninsula.
The only city on Georgian Bay had an arena that was built right beside that great cold body of water that froze over in the wintertime called Georgian Bay. The sixth of the five great lakes sometimes looked like a giant hockey rink with smooth ice stretching to the northern horizon. It looked like the kind of place where giants might play.
“The Giants” would be a good name for the Owen Sound Jr. A. team, too, but that is a name that seems to belong to baseball and football. There’s the Vancouver Giants, a junior team owned by Gordie Howe, and the Belfast Giants of the EIHL, or Elite Ice Hockey League, of the United Kingdom. There’s the New York Giants of the NFL and the San Francisco Giants, playing National League baseball. There’s also the Gold Coast-Tweed Giants, an Australian rugby league team, the Huddersfield Giants, a rugby league team competing in Super League, the Lotte Giants, a South Korean professional baseball team, and Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants, a Philippine Basketball Association team.
Juicy Giants is not a name that would go over well in Owen Sound or anywhere else in Canada or the rest of North America, I’m sure.
While I lived in Owen Sound, I called my brother over from Midland to invite him to see the Owen Sound Platters in the play-offs against London Knights, Niagara Falls Thunder, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Kitchener Rangers, and Detroit Junior Red Wings.
In 1991-92 we lost to London Knights 4 games to 1 in first round. In 1992-93 we defeated Niagara Falls Thunder 4 games to 0 in first round but lost to S.S. Marie Greyhounds 4 games to 0 in quarter-finals. And in 1993-94 we defeated Kitchener Rangers 4 games to 1 in division quarter-finals but lost to Detroit Jr. Red Wings 4 games to 0 in division semi-finals.
We had Jamie Storr in net. We watched him play at the Harry Lumley Arena in Owen Sound and go from there to the L.A. Kings, the way Wayne Rutledge had gone from the Gravenhurst Indians Senior team to the NHL in the early days of the Kings.
"The Bayshore," is now the home to the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League, the Owen Sound Greys of the Midwestern Junior B Hockey League, the Owen Sound Woodsmen of the OLA Senior B Lacrosse League and the Owen Sound Rams of the OLA Junior B Lacrosse League.
The Owen Sound Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1981 and is also housed in the community centre. Harry Lumley and J.D. McArthur are among the many individuals and teams who have been enshrined there.
There will be a space there for Sean Avery, one day, I’m sure.
The Canadian Dream, which begins with learning to skate on a frozen pond or river, like Bobby Orr on the Seguin River, in Parry Sound, on the other side of Georgian Bay from Owen Sound, picks up the pace like a particle in a nuclear accelerator if you make it to Junior A, where fans are frequently told they'll be watching "the future NHL stars today".
The next big step in The Dream is to get drafted into the NHL.
The NHL's draft day has developed over the years into a televised event attracting millions. The number one draft pick, particularly if he's from Canada, and not the former CCCP, is an overnight sensation, heralded as a superstar, even a savior, for the NHL.
The last place NHL team drafts firs and usually the best player in junior hockey can help the worst team in the NHL. They all try to draft a juior they can build a franchise around, like Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Yevgeni Malkin, Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, or John Tavares.
In 1998, when Sean Avery was 18, and eligible for the NHL draft, Vincent Lacavalier was the first pick, over-all, going from Rimouski Oceanic to Tampa Bay Lightning. Ten of the top twenty picks were from the OHL. Seventy percent of the top twenty were from Canada. Toronto traded their first round draft pick to Chicago.
Toronto took Peter Svoboda, from the Czech Republic, in the second round, and Jamie Hodson, a goalie, from the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL, in the third, and Alexei Ponikaravsky, from Ukraine, playing for Dynamo Moscow.
Svoboda played just eighteen games in the National Hockey League with the Maple Leafs in the 2000–01 season and that was it. He was sent back down to the St. John's Maple Leafs and went back to the Czeck Republic to play with Trinec Ocelari.
Ponivarski went back to Moscow, then joined the Leafs, got sent down to St. John's a couple of times, spent another year in Russia, and then became a regular with the Leafs.
Hodson never played in the NHL.
What do you do if you don't get drafted into the NHL?
The dream dies for thousands of gifted athletic guys and incredibly talented hockey players from around the world.
What does it take for an undrafted junior hockey player to win a spot on an NHL team?
It's impossible, like a nobody getting a novel published, but it happens, once in a while.
If you were an undrafted junior hockey player, would you try to get on with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who were not one of the best teams in the NHL, or with the Detroit Red Wings, who were a kind of dynasty? Sean Avery did not take the easy way.
Avery played for the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks of the AHL, for a couple of years, before he joined the Detroit Red Wings, when they won the Stanley Cup, and then moved on to the L.A. Kings, New York Rangers, and Dallas Stars.
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