1. I absolutely love Belleville's acquisition of Brett Welychka from the London Knights. The Bulls paid handsomely in veteran Aaron Berisha and a 2nd and 3rd round pick but hardly mortgaged the future. Welychka is the perfect kind of add as well in that he's not a player the Bulls are expecting to take over offensively but rather a complementary piece. Those are the deals that tend to work out best. I also like clubs like the Bulls that recognize a need and pounce to fill it while they're hot instead of waiting for the trade deadline when half the season is over and prices are sky high.
2. A $180 million lawsuit has been filed against the CHL. Click the link for all the details. I have a few opinions on it and the other player union-related matters that have surfaced in the last year or so.
First, if the players want to form a union or successfully get more out of the CHL, they need to stop using this minimum wage argument. Right or wrong, it's a PR disaster. It's like when teachers complain that they need more time off during contract negotiations. Whether it's legit or not, it doesn't go over well in the court of public opinion.
People don't feel sorry for players because they don't get mininum wage in a "job" that was a chosen path and not taken because of a need to earn immediate money.
Lawsuits and union drives would have a far greater appeal and chance of affecting real change if they concentrated on education and extended health benefits. The public would get behind the idea of a broader education and help for hockey-related injuries that may plague players for life.
But a strick cash handout? That's tough to support for the average guy clocking in at a minimum wage job.
There are a few things that never get pointed out when complainants argue about all the money CHL teams make. And that is all the extra stuff the players get beyond the $470 in expenses per month and scholarship program.
Start paying players an hourly wage and you can say goodbye to: travel per diems, travel expenses, equipment (you bought a good hockey stick lately? They ain't cheap. Try breaking several per season), food, lodging, dental work, doctors, physio, personal trainers, massage therapy, personal tutors, free tickets to games, team clothing and post-secondary tuition.
Most companies don't provide all that let alone ones paying minimum wage. Seems like a lot to trade for some quick cash.
There is a lot of money to be had if the lawsuit prevails and/or a union is formed. I wonder if all the proceeds will go to players or not. The Toronto Star has already reported that one man would receive payments of $60,000 or more if he is successful in launching a union in the QMJHL.
3. How about those Kitchener Dutchmen? They are winners of 11 straight games in the local Jr. B circuit. The team features several Rangers' prospects in Jacob Cascagnette, Sean Allen, Izzy Benigno and Scott Pedersen. Speaking of prospects, F Kegan Blasby is up to 18 points in 14 games over in Germany. Meanwhile, recently released F Scott Teskey in pointless in two games for St. Mike's in the OJHL.
4. For those counting, the Sudbury Wolves are 0-2 since Connor Burgess left the team. Problems go deeper than the son of the team's owner. Ex-Rangers assistant GM and associate coach Paul Fixter is in tough behind the bench up north. It's shaping up to be a long year.
5. Hey, your Kitchener Rangers are the third hottest team in the OHL with a 3-0-0-2 streak going. Only first place Erie (8-0-0-1) and east topping Oshawa (4-0) are currently on better runs. And with the recent success, the Rangers are beginning to see some space between them and the lower seeds in the standings.
6. You have to wonder if the Steve Mason trade will ever come up between Mark Hunter and Steve Spott, both now working side by side for the Toronto Maple Leafs. #awkwardmoments
7. Was a big Remi Elie booster heading into the season and I see the Bulls forward is now sixth in OHL scoring. A very underrated player.
8. Erie's Alex DeBrincat (16 pts) has a six-point cushion in the rookie scoring race on the Sting's Pavel Zacha. Overall, this is one of the better crops of rookies we've seen in years. Lots of healthy numbers in the top 15 for the freshmen.
9. Surprising stat - Kitchener d-man Dmitrii Sergeev is almost a point per game with seven in nine contests.
10. Things are beginning to turn around in Niagara. The team finally had a couple of home games (and is undefeated at the new barn) after starting the season with a bunch of roadies. Goalie Brent Moran's numbers are also encouraging. Despite being 2-6, he boasts a 2.90 GAA and .909 save percentage.