Tuesday, October 26, 2010

An Ode to Olivier

You know when you have that one favourite player, the one that would make you sick to your stomach to see in another team’s colours? I remember when Alex Steen was traded to St. Louis – I loved the guy, hated to see him go. I feel like it’ll be a looooong season for many Cape Breton Screaming Eagles fans in that regard.

One of the things that always screws me up about the QMJHL is some of the trades. You have to pay attention to every single deal or you can get lost. Olivier Roy, probably the best goalie in the league, was essentially traded by Cape Breton to Lewiston for a pair of 2nd round picks, which makes zero sense on its own, especially when he was flipped to Bathurst the next day for a huge package including the 1st overall pick in the June draft. Given the nature of junior hockey, these things happen – Roy was essentially future considerations, so the Eagles could take a run with him and Jacob Lagace, who came over mid-season, and then unload Roy after that run (which scored them one post-season win against the eventual champs) back to Lewiston.

Olivier Roy was, to put it lightly, a sick monster for the Eagles for three seasons. He came in as a 16-year old, ran the train on the league and won rookie of the year, and was named to the CHL’s all-rookie team. He was an instant fan favourite, something that is easy to see now that he’s gone. He put together some incredible performances. His numbers may not support the beastly status I’m giving him, but he had the ability to take over a game and steal it. He had to on many occasions – the Eagles weren’t exactly a stacked team in his time there. Good players, yes, but they won games with a hard-nosed, hard-working mindset rather than one of finesse. They’ve always been the type of team that you cheer for, because they have heart and play a complete game, and their goaltender was the root of that.

Roy put another notch in his belt, another in his list of accomplishments in this league, on Sunday. After earning 94 wins in his three seasons with the Eagles, he recorded win number one hundred at “home”… against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. He’s only the sixth goalie in league history to do so. By the end of the season, he’ll have the all-time shutout record, and 2nd place on the wins list, both accomplished, as win 100 was, wearing Titan colours. But in the eyes of Eagles fans, Roy’s junior home will always be Cape Breton, where he’ll soon become another name rattled off when talking about Cape Breton as a goalie factory, along with Marc-Andre Fleury and Ondrej Pavelec. Why he slipped to the Oilers in round five of the draft, I don’t know. I’m no talent scout, and certainly not for goalies, but this kid has something special, and it won’t be long before that becomes widely apparent.

He’s going to start for Canada at the World Juniors in Buffalo this year; a year too late, in my opinion, and in hindsight I’m sure many will agree. And even after that remarkable achievement against their own boys, and even after his return home on November 28th with his new teammates, the most heart wrenching time for Eagles fans may just begin on Boxing Day. It’s reminiscent of the story of another Roy; Halladay. When Olivier Roy pulls off an incredible post-to-post display of acrobatics, the announcers will remind us that he’s representing the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. If the team is good enough (because we sure as hell know he is) to return Canada to its golden glory in Buffalo, he won’t be accepting his medal as a member of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. And you’d best believe that’s going to sting.

I’m guilty of not seeing enough of Olivier Roy in the flesh during his time with the Eagles. I got to a few games, sure, and I certainly admired his work from a distance, but when he and the Titan roll into the Centre 200 on November 28th, I’ll be there, showing my appreciation for a lifetime Eagle, regardless of whatever achievements lay on the horizon with other teams.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Super Series Roster Announced

The QMJHL announced the roster for this year’s installment of the Subway Super Series on Monday, to take place in Saint John (Nov. 8) and Drummondville (Nov. 10). Basically a travelling band of junior-aged Russian players make their way across Canada, playing two games against an all-star team of each league under the CHL umbrella. The Q’s roster for this year is as follows, along with their draft status:


Olivier Roy, Acadie-Bathurst Titan (EDM 5th rd, 2009)
Jean-Francois Bérubé, Montreal Juniors* (LA 4th rd, 2009)
Maxime Clermont, Gatineau Olympiques** (NJ 6th rd, 2010)


Nathan Beaulieu, Saint John Sea Dogs (2011 eligible)
Nicolas Deslauriers, Gatineau Olympiques (LA 3rd rd, 2010)
Simon Després, Saint John Sea Dogs (PIT 1st rd, 2009)
Jérome Gauthier-Leduc, Rimouski Océanic (BUF 3rd rd, 2010)
Brandon Gormley, Moncton Wildcats (PHX 1st rd, 2010)
Xavier Ouellet, Montreal Juniors (2011 eligible)
Charles-Olivier Roussel, Montreal Juniors (NSH 2nd rd, 2009)
Ryan Kavanagh, Rimouski Océanic* (Undrafted, 19 yrs)
Jean-Philippe Mathieu, Drummondville Voltigeurs** (Undrafted, 19 yrs)


Guillaume Asselin, Chicoutimi Saguenéens (Undrafted, 18 yrs)
Louis-Marc Aubry, Montreal Juniors (DET 3rd, 2010)
Michael Bournival, Shawinigan Cataractes (COL 3rd, 2010)
Sean Couturier, Drummondville Voltigeurs (2011 eligible)
Jonathan Huberdeau, Saint John Sea Dogs (2011 eligible)
Brandon Hynes, Victoriaville Tigres (Undrafted, 18 yrs)
Louis Leblanc, Montreal Juniors (MTL 1st, 2009)
Jonathan Lessard, Acadie-Bathurst Titan (Undrafted, 19 yrs)
Philippe Paradis, PEI Rocket (CAR 1st, 2009)
Trevor Parkes, Montreal Juniors (Undrafted, 19 yrs)
Zack Phillips, Saint John Sea Dogs (2011 eligible)
Philippe Lefebvre, Montreal Juniors* (Undrafted, 19 yrs)
Jonathan Brunelle, Drummondville Voltigeurs** (Undrafted, 19 yrs)

*Will only compete in Saint John
**Will only compete in Drummondville

As you can see, the draft eligible talent in the Q is well represented, headlined of course by Sean Couturier who remains atop the ISS Top 30. There are also 8 undrafted players on the roster, including a couple who just miss the cut for being 2011 eligible (Asselin by 6 days, Hynes by 1). Here’s a breakdown of the all-stars by team:

Montreal (7)
Saint John (4)
Drummondville (3)
Acadie-Bathurst (2)
Gatineau (2)
Rimouski (2)
Moncton (1)
Chicoutimi (1)
Shawinigan (1)
Victoriaville (1)
PEI (1)

With seven teams unrepresented, it would be wonderful for the NHL to learn something from this series. If you haven’t played like an all-star, you shouldn’t be an all-star, even if you’re the best player on your team. Why should the bottom feeders be represented on the big stage if they’re undeserving? I digress. Interestingly, the league-leading and, at this time, top ranked team in the CHL is not represented; the Quebec Remparts. This would be due to their top four scorers being three over-agers and a European; only players eligible for Team Canada’s World Junior team make the Super Series cut.

All in all it’s a pretty fair roster, by my estimation. It’s heavy on Montreal players, though two of those will only play one game. A couple substitutions I may have made would be to get Olivier Archambault (Val-d’Or) and/or Yannick Veilleux (Shawinigan), a couple of 2011 eligibles, onto the roster in place of perhaps a guy like Trevor Parkes. So, minor stuff essentially. I’m sure others could point out more glaring errors than that. Another note: Los Angeles is the only NHL team represented by two players.

I was hoping to be able to check out the game in Saint John, and just as the roster announcement gets me excited for the game, I get the word that I’ll be able to get the days off necessary to make the trip. So needless to say I’m looking forward to seeing the best and brightest of the Q; I’ll post some thoughts after the game, most likely.