Fri Oct 22 11:38am EDT
The Saginaw Spirit is playing left out in November's Subway Super Series. (Call Stephen Colbert.)
If you want to call it a snub — Saginaw is tied for the Ontario Hockey League's second-best record (.773 point percentage) but has no players on Team OHL — make sure you know who was actually snubbed.
" 'We're very surprised,' Spirit president and managing partner Craig Goslin said. "Hopefully our guys will play harder to prove they belong.
" 'We feel like we're deserving and we feel like we should have three or four players. It is what it is.'
"The Super Series is an annual event pitting OHL All-Stars against the Russian Junior National Team in a two-game series." (Saginaw News)
The Spirit has a beef. Saginaw, a U.S. team with 11 American-born players bears the brunt of the widely reviled Super Series format that does not accommodate U.S. and European talent. (See Thursday's Chatravaganza for details on the "reviled" part.)
The Spirit's brightest light, potential Top 10 pick Brandon Saad (whose hometown Pittsburgh Tribune-Review calls him "the finest prospect ever to come out of Pittsburgh") is not up for consideration since he is American. The same goes for its scoring leader, 17-year-old Vincent Trocheck, who is also from the Pittsburgh area.
The point is twofold. Saginaw should not feel burned for not having a Super Series-friendly roster. It has only one drafted Canadian, captain Jordan Szwarz, a Phoenix Coyotes fourth-rounder. Its other drafted forward, Atlanta fourth-rounder Ivan Telegin, is Russian. Starting goalie Mavric Parks, he of the Ontario league-leading 2.10 goals-against average is out since he is overage.
However, Saginoaw should not feel snubbed because it used its U.S. location to its advantage. There should be some thought, since the Canadian Hockey League calls itself the world's best developmental league, to include the talent which lacks a Canadian or Russian birth certificate. (The kids don't remember the 1987 Canada Cup, people.)
Or go the other way and hammer home the point these games really just are an evaluative tool for helping select Team Canada for the world junior championship. Belleville Bulls coach-GM George Burnett, whose team also got blanked, noted as much.
"Burnett ... said potential invitations to the Canadian world junior team training camp might also weigh heavily in Team OHL roster decisions.
" 'The focus right now, maybe more than in the past, might be more of a world junior evaluation," said Burnett. 'In the past, there've been some kids who were projected to be world junior players.' " (Belleville Intelligencer)
The Super Series format likely will not be ditched so long as the CHL can find corporate partners for the event. It is one thing for the format to feel dry and played-out to diehard fans. It is another that someone of Saad's skill is omitted. Is it good policy when the OHL and Western Hockey League are trying to expand their recruiting pipeline into the States?
Coming Down The Pipe! has made an annual rite of doing a 'Team World' post. Saad should make that mythical squad.
One final irony: the Spirit probably benefit. The club has a three-game road trip beginning Nov. 11, the night of the first Russia-Team OHL game. Somehow, I wonder whether they would want anyone playing three games in four days and then hauling up to Sudbury to play in the Nov. 15 game, when they could be enjoying a day off.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Sports Canada. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.