It was beautiful. Dueling press releases. The only thing missing was the banjos.
First came the missive from College Hockey Inc., headlined: Former North Dakota star Toews leads Blackhawks to Stanley Cup.
Carrying a Newton, Mass., place line, it reads:
“Former North Dakota Fighting Sioux standout and current Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews (Winnipeg, Man.) was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy last night while leading the Chicago Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup victory. The 22-year old Toews finished first amongst all Blackhawks with 29 points and helped return the Stanley Cup to Chicago for the first time in 49 years.
“This past February, Toews won an Olympic Gold Medal with Team Canada in Vancouver and in doing so was named the Directorate award Winner for best forward in the tournament. Stanley Cup Champion, playoff MVP, Olympic Gold Medalist, and Directorate Award Winner are the results of the greatest individual season in recent memory.
“Toews skated at North Dakota for two seasons (2005-2007) and led the team to two Frozen Fours. He compiled 85 points (40g, 45a) in 76 career games with the Fighting Sioux. He helped North Dakota capture the Broadmoor Cup as WCHA champions in the spring of 2006 and also was named NCAA West Regional MVP that same season.
“In addition to Toews, four other former college hockey alumni won the Stanley Cup with Chicago, including: Adam Burish (Wisconsin), Duncan Keith (Michigan State), John Madden (Michigan) and Patrick Sharp (Vermont).”
It wasn’t long after that when a press release arrived from Cory Flett, the WHL’s director of communications. It reads in part:
“The Chicago Blackhawks were crowned 2010 Stanley Cup Champions on Wednesday, June 9th, after defeating the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final.
“10 former WHL players were a part of the Blackhawks’ team that captured its first Stanley Cup since 1961, including forwards Marian Hossa (Portland), Dustin Byfuglien (Brandon, Prince George), Kris Versteeg (Lethbridge, Kamloops, Red Deer), Tomas Kopecky (Lethbridge), Troy Brouwer (Moose Jaw), Andrew Ladd (Calgary) and Colin Fraser (Red Deer), and defensemen Brent Seabrook (Lethbridge), Duncan Keith (Kelowna) and Brent Sopel (Saskatoon, Swift Current).”
The WHL release went on to include at least one paragraph on each of those players, featuring career highlights, etc.
The WHL released closed with:
“The WHL continues to be one of the World’s top development Leagues for supplying talent to the National Hockey League. Over 21 per cent of all players who played at least one game in the NHL during the 2009-10 regular season are WHL graduates.”
If word count means anything, the WHL was a big winner in the battle of the press releases. It’s release totalled 767 words, while College Hockey Inc.’s came in at 205.
We now return you to regular programming . . .
The Red Deer Rebels have signed their top two selections from the 2010 bantam draft, D Kayle Doetzel and F Cory Millette. . . . Doetzel, the 12th overall pick, is from Rosetown, Sask. He had 34 points in 20 games with the West Central bantam AA team. . . . Millette, from Storthoaks, Sask., played bantam AA with the Hounds at the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, Sask. The 34th overall pick in the draft, he had 92 points, including 47 goals, with the Hounds.
I got a note from a loyal follower about another former WHLer who is part of the Chicago Blackhawks organization. . . . Troy Murray, a former NHL player with the Blackhawks, Winnipeg Jets, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins and Colorado Avalanche, is on Chicago’s radio crew -- that would be WGN (720AM). Murray, who is from Calgary, played for the AJHL’s St. Albert Saints, then played two games for the Lethbridge Broncos in 1979-80. He then moved on to the U of North Dakota Fighting Sioux for two seasons. . . . Yikes! How did that work? Play in the WHL and then the NCAA. What is wrong with that picture? . . . Did you know that Kelly McCrimmon, now the owner, general manager and head coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings, also did the WHL-to-the-NCAA thing. He played two seasons with the Wheat Kings and then spent four seasons with the U of Michigan Wolverines. . . . You could look it up. . . . The point is that there is precedent, so why can't players do that now?
Whenever I stumble upon something that is a good read, I always like to provide a link in the hopes that at least some of you — hello, Andrew Milne — will follow along and find some reading enjoyment.
And I’m telling you that John Kass of the Chicago Tribune has written a gem. There are some anecdotes here that will have you laughing so hard you won’t be able to feel the pain of the injured hockey players. Check it out right here.