I arrived back home in Ottawa on Monday after flying all day from Nashville, through Washington and finally into Ottawa. Doing the play-by-play of the Detroit/Nashville series on Hockey Night in Canada was a great experience for me because of Harry. I had worked with Harry Neale before in single games, but on a playoff series the whole crew pretty much stays together til its over. I spent most of the week with Harry, producer Larry Issac, director Jacques Primeau and host Scott Oake. The best part of all the time I spent was with Harry. When you get that much time you get a chance to prompt him on all the hundreds of stories he has from a life in hockey. Coaching Gordie Howe. His time in Vancouver and Detroit and the years of broadcasting with hall of famer Bob Cole. I must say I am shocked that Harry is not in the Hall of Fame. He should be and I believe will be and if I had a vote it would already be cast.
When I got home on Monday one of my oldest friends Cam Baldwin arrived from Winnipeg. His son Corbin was playing in the Telus Cup National Midget Championship in Arnprior for the Winnipeg Thrashers. The kid is 16 years old and already 6’5” and drafted by Spokane in the Western League. His team is unbelievable. The Thrashers lost one tournament game early in the season, did not lose a regular season game in Manitoba and lost just once in the regional round robin to the Notre Dame Hounds who they beat in the regional final to get to Arnprior.
After watching the games in Arnprior I found myself with a very settled feeling about where we are going as a nation with our developmental programs. The hockey at the Telus cup from these 15 and 16 year olds was amazing. The Ottawa Valley Titans are a hell of a team and had a great season and they couldn't win a game in this tournament. It tells you how good the best midget players in Canada really are.
If you want to see the kids that are coming down the hockey pipe in the next few years, you may want to check it out today in Arnprior for the semi’s and the bronze medal game tomorrow at 10am and the gold medal game at 4pm with the delayed broadcast at 6pm on TSN. These kids are fantastic and well worth the watch.
See you at the rink.