Monday, June 23, 2003

Also no surprise: heated discussion of Cleve Dheensaw's ECHL vs. WHL column.

So, just for fun, I decided to look over the 2000-2001 Kootenay Ice, a very good team that was even better one year later (winning the Memorial Cup). Had to go back at least two seasons to get a decent sampling of players who'd moved on.

The top two scorers are headed for the NHL. Mike Comrie and goaltender Dan Blackburn are already there

But go down the rest of the roster and you find six ECHLers (including the fourth, fifth and sixth leading scorers) and just two full-season AHLers (one of whom played his first year in the "E").

Then you've got two kids who went to the UHL and WCHL, respectively, for the most recent playoffs. There's one who's hit four "AA" leagues in two seasons, and a handful who haven't yet gone pro (including, I suspect, one or two who never will).

So would a half-dozen NHL/AHL prospects make up for the fact that the next dozen are just younger, rawer, ECHL-or-lower bodies? Some might be faster or more skilled, but just as many wouldn't play good defense.

I'm sticking with my (and Dheenshaw's) original opinion: the pros would have the edge.

However, it's possible the '01-'02 Kootenay Ice might have beaten the '01-'02 Indianapolis Ice (or any so-so CHL team).

Also, one clarification: when I said earlier that the junior players who come to the CHL find it faster, I meant in terms of decision-making, not who would win a race.

In other news, the UHL had its expansion draft, so it wouldn't be surprising if a few of those names turned up in the CHL.

And there's a letter from Marc LaForge in the latest Hockey News.

"Even though I fought as a player and hated it, I now realize it is the only reason the casual American fan will tune in," the former San Antonio and Indy grinder writes. "People in the U.S. have no clue about or interest in hockey, so it boggles the mind why Gary Bettman would cater to this segment of the population. By doing so, he's alienating his true fan base while trying to lure in fans who could care less."
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