One on One with former Cornwall Royal, Jeff Reid

Originally published in the June 2014 issue of Sports Energy 

When it comes to the Cornwall Royals, fans always bring up the glory days of winning back to back Memorial Cups in the early 80’s. While that was a significant event in the team’s history, Cornwall had always iced a strong team until the early 90’s when the team was sold and relocated to Newmarket, Ontario.

(Photo: March Hockey collection.)
(Photo: March Hockey collection.)

Jeff Reid was a part of Cornwall’s last 3 seasons. Hailing from far away Owen Sound, Ontario, Reid started his hockey career like every other young lad in the country, following in his father’s footsteps. His days with the Junior B squad of the Owen Sound Greys led him to be drafted by Gord Woods and the Cornwall Royals in the 11th round.

Jumping at the chance to start his minor hockey career, Reid made the seven hour trek to the Seaway City and was placed with a passionate billet family, the Alexanders. “I had the same billet family the whole time I was there,” Reid recalls. “Mrs. Alexander really welcomed me and my roommates and made the transition of being away from home very easy.”

His first two years with the squad saw him play under the likes of Marc Crawford and John Lovell. Crawford taught them what it took to play professional hockey. “He participated in lots of the drills and would actually compete with us.”  Crawford, having just retired from professional hockey himself, was not afraid to compete with the team he was in charge of. “Many times he would finish his checks on us.” Reid remembers, “He actually bag-skated himself after a bad loss. He said he couldn’t play for us but he could skate for us. That was pretty powerful.” Lovell came in during the Royals last season in town. “Outstanding coach. I learned a great deal about hockey and how to be a good person from him.”

cornwall_royals_1991-92_front Reid remembers the incredible talent the team had. “Being able to watch and play with Owen Nolan was awesome. Score goals, hit and fight at the drop of the hat. He was an all-around hockey player.” Other names coming to mind were the great John Slaney, the late Guy Levesque, one of his roommate’s Ryan Vandenbussche and of course, his linemate Chris Clancy. “He was my big brother out there. He made me be able to play like I was 6’2”.”

The tandem of Reid and Clancy didn’t stop with the Royals. After his junior career, Reid turned professional and played with various minor pro teams across the United States. Teams such as the Las Vegas Thunder, Orlando Solar Bears and Raleigh IceCaps. Upon retiring from playing, an opportunity arose to headman the men’s hockey team at the University of Guelph. His assistants? Two aforementioned Royals alumni, Chris Clancy and John Lovell. “I was a young head coach and stayed with Guelph for nine years.” Reid says, “It took me a few years to figure out that hockey was a high priority, but the big picture was getting a degree and possibly having a pro opportunity after school. School was paramount.”

“Major junior isn’t for everyone and lots of players are late bloomers. The main difference between the OHL and collegiate is understanding what the players’ goals are.” Reid offers a bit of advice for future players. “I’m biased but Major Junior is the best of both worlds. Work to get your dream of playing professional hockey and if it doesn’t work out, school is there and paid for.”

As he reminisces about his time in Cornwall, Reid says the fans are the some of the memories that stick out the most. “The fans were very passionate about the Royals. The hockey was incredible.” In the same breath, he remembers the great Orval Tessier giving him his chance to excel. As Reid was a late draft pick, he got his chance after Winnipeg Jets prospect Jason Cirone was away at their camp and blew out his shoulder. “Orval signed me to a roster card. I was very grateful for the opportunity and went on to say I needed a new pair of skates.” Tessier didn’t say much and a couple of weeks later called Reid back into his office. “On his desk were a new pair of skates. He ordered them with two inch steel blades. He told me he was going to get me to 5”10 somehow.”

Reid has just finished up the hockey season as an assistant coach with the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. Here’s to seeing him behind the bench for a few more years to come.

jra1

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One on One with Quebec Remparts Assistant Captain, Kurt Etchegary

(Photo: Jonathan Roy)
(Photo: Jonathan Roy)

Kurt Etchegary is a fiesty centre from St. John’s, Newfoundland who is currently in his third Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season with the Quebec Remparts. His 25 points in 31 games of last year’s campaign earned him the Assistant Captaincy. We chatted about coming off an injury laden season, playing under the greatness of Patrick Roy and attending an NHL training camp.

March Hockey:  How was it to come back on the ice after undergoing surgery on your hip joints?

Kurt Etchegary: After my hip surgeries, I felt like a new man! I had my problems fixed and I was had more energy on the ice and in the gym. It allowed me to last longer in games and contribute more without feeling any pain. The surgery was to make the capsules in both the left and right hip circular, instead of a previously oval-like shape. This stopped rubbing of joints and made it easier for me to be more flexible.

MH: What was it like to play under a hockey icon as big as Patrick Roy?

Etchegary with Roy. (Photo: lapresse.ca)
Etchegary with Roy. (Photo: lapresse.ca)

KE: Playing for Patrick was such an honor. He is a legend in every aspect, both on and off the ice. The feeling that you have around him whether its when you first meet him or after knowing him for two years… it never changes. He is respected by everyone that he meets and you can see the passion in him just by talking to him. He is a winner and hates to lose and really helped me develop my game and bring it to the next level.

MH: Although you went undrafted this year, what was your experience like in attending the Detroit Red Wings training camp?

KE: It was an unbelievable experience in Detroit, I met amazing people like Ken Holland, Mike Babcock, Chris Chelios and the list goes on… it was great to see how professional the organization was and to get a bit of an idea on what it takes to make it to that level. It is something I will never forget and I really hope to return for another camp next year.

MH: Growing up, what player did you look up to the most to help your style of play?

(Photo: Sebastien Dion)
(Photo: Sebastien Dion)

KE: My favourite player is Mike Richards because of his grit, determination and leadership. He inspires me when I watch him and I try to play like him. I love his play; he finishes his hits, isn’t afraid of anyone and always battles 60 minutes. He is a true captain and a real role model for a player with my style.

MH: What are you expectations with yourself and the Quebec Remparts in general coming into this season?

KE: Our team this year is VERY VERY good. One of the best teams on paper, however we have had a horrible start so far. Once we start to click, our skill and work ethic will carry us a long way and hopefully to the Memorial Cup. We have some of the best skill in the CHL along with the London Knights and Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and I think it can be anyones championship depending on who will work the most.

Commentary on Acadie-Bathurst Titan prospect, Jordan Boyd’s Death

JordanBoydFBYesterday afternoon, Jordan Boyd said goodbye to his family and friends and left for his first QMJHL training camp in  Bathurst, New Brunswick. Little did they know they would be seeing him for the last time. Boyd collapsed on the ice after complaining of stomach discomfort and paramedics tried to revive him. He was pronounced dead at the nearby hospital.

I realize that teams are building themselves to win. I realize that the game has changed tremendously since the 70’s and 80’s, hell even the early 2000s. My point is when will a young body be able to keep up with rigorous training schedules that all these players are forced into?

While I agree that a 24/7, 7 days a week, 365 days a year training schedule produces some top talent, it takes a tremendous toll on the body. Especially at Jordan’s age. The body needs rest. Don’t get me wrong, I know it was his first day and that doctors had cleared him to play but something was clearly overlooked.  The body needs proper downtime, the right nutrition and the right to have some fun.

At the same time, these rigorous training schedules are forcing thousands of potential players their careers. Some could be talented beyond their years but if they can’t hack the training, guess what, you’re out and demoted. It could also very well shorten your career just from the aches and pains the body takes.

It’s clear to see the influence that European hockey has had on the North American game. No, I’m not Don Cherry, I’m not bashing it at all. The focus is all about stick handling and what to do with the puck rather then a physical aspect of years past and that, at times is okay.

It might be time to recoil a little bit and bring the game back to basics. Pond hockey, outdoor rinks, players perfecting their skills by having fun. Not through an intense training regimen. At least tone it down if need be.

Anyway, just felt the need to comment and put my two cents in.

Chicoutimi Sagueneens Julio Billia earns Player Of The Game Honors for Team Canada

Team Canada blanked the Czech Republic at a score of 4-0 in their first official game at the 2013 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament. The Canadians put on a show and dazzled the crowd with their hockey sense and ability. Team Canada is made up of the best junior players from the WHL, OHL and QMJHL.

1310776129443_ORIGINALStarting goaltender, and QMJHL Chicoutimi Sagueneens netminder. Julio Billia earned his first shutout of the tournament and picked up Player of the Game honors as well for Canada.

Newly appointed team captain, and Barrie Colts forward Aaron Ekblad added a pair of assists in the win along with a goal and an assist from sharpshooter Michael Dal Colle.

Dal Colle’s power play goal in the first period was the first of two as Hayden Fleury added his own. Kingston’s Spencer Watson added to the scorecard with his goal coming off of a penalty shot in the second period. The scoring stopped in the third period with Sherbrooke Phoenix’s forward Daniel Audette notching the final and Team Canada’s third power play goal.

Czech Republic seemed to spend an awful long of time in the penalty box as they took 7 over the course of the game.

The action at the 2013 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament continues tomorrow. Team Canada will be back at the Alcapast Arena in Breclav, Czech Republic as they enter their second game of the tourney, taking on team Sweden.

2013 Draft Profile: Nathan MacKinnon

If I were the Colorado Avalanche, this would be my first pick.

Nathan MacKinnon, who calls Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia home has been compared by some to be the next Sidney Crosby and not because he’s from the same town. MacKinnon, a strong 17 year old power forward is excepted to go at least in the top 3 in the 2013 NHL entry draft.

Nathan MacKinnon (Photo: puckingopinion.flickr)
Nathan MacKinnon (Photo: puckingopinion.flickr)

Coming off of a Memorial Cup win and named MVP of the tournament, the stars could not be more aligned for him right now. Selected first overall by the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in the QMJHL and not being able to speak french, MacKinnon was then traded to the Halifax Mooseheads who he would help head man the team into glory. In his 2 seasons with the Mooseheads, MacKinnon has played a total of 102 games. His goals and assists for both years combine for an astonishing 153 points.

With Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic both  making remarks about not drafting Seth Jones first overall, I have no doubt in my mind MacKinnon is the one they want.

Canadian Hockey League’s Banning Of European Goaltenders.

Well here’s a touchy subject. For lack of a better reason and for a few years of failed World Junior Championship gold, the Canadian Hockey League has put in a ban of drafting European goaltenders. Apparently ours suck and need a wee bit of conditioning.

I’m gonna look at this from both sides of the table though.

Justin Pogge. (Photo - Sylvain Nadeau, flickr.)
Justin Pogge. (Photo – Sylvain Nadeau, flickr.)

First off, tell me something. Let’s say you were General Manager of oh…I don’t know…let’s say the Erie Otters. And let’s say you formed one hell of a team, you had the next Sidney Crosby, the next Pavel Datsyuk, the next Al McInnis (How come everyone’s forgotten about Al?!), hell, even the next Wayne Gretzky. All you’re missing from your piece of the Memorial Cup puzzle is one hot goaltender. Are you really going to care where this guy is from??? Who would you rather, Mika Samsoniteov  with a GAA of 0.02 from Russia or Johnny Canuck with a GAA of 10.93? I don’t know, but I’d be a little peeved.

Another question. Are they still allowed to draft American goaltenders?? Why sure they are! How is that really fair?

Sigh. But, as a patriotic Canadian I can see their point. Kinda. Our efforts at the World Juniors when it comes to goaltending the past few years have been dismal at most. While I won’t mention any names, (I’m sure you all know who they are), Team Canada has a HUGE reputation to uphold as the best hockey nation on the planet. They see that they are losing the goaltending battle and figure this is a way to save face.

Relax Bobby Lu. You're fine.
Relax Bobby Lu. You’re fine.

Last point though….no one’s saying these young Canadian goaltenders can’t go get signed over in the European leagues and get conditioned there. Hell, a bunch of the coaches are Canadian.

Second last point…..I hate to sound like a Don Cherry but, all you youngsters out there, STOP IT WITH THE BUTTERFLY. Stand up more, you’ll save more shots. But what do I know…..I’m just a woman, right?

Third last point. Kudos if you caught the Dumb and Dumber reference.