Neate Sager

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Neate Sager is a blogger for Yahoo! Sports.

  • The OHL's 10 most compelling characters for the 2014-15 season

    McDavid (97) is a hands-down favourite to go No. 1 in the 2015 draft (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)McDavid (97) is a hands-down favourite to go No. 1 in the 2015 draft (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    Coaching changes, college commitments going poof and another series of anti-fighting initiatives; the OHL off-season had it all.

    Projecting the Ontario Hockey League final standings is always tougher than trying to reverse parallel park while blindfolded. This season is even more daunting for prognosticators since none of the heavies in London, Kitchener or Windsor are at the apex of a building cycle. Defending champion Guelph is also due for a step back after falling one win short of the Memorial Cup.

    On an individual level, though, there is some idea of the league's dramatis personae, starting with a certain Connor McDavid with the Erie Otters. With the first for-reals puck drop just more than two weeks away, here's a synopsis of 10 players, coaches and GMs who will be under a bright spotlight in 2014-15. 

    Connor McDavid, centre, Erie Otters — With McDavid, the on-ice brilliance is beyond reproach; he posted 99 points in just 56 games during his age-16 season with the Erie Otters.

    Read More »from The OHL's 10 most compelling characters for the 2014-15 season
  • Baptiste banged up: the coast-to-coast

    Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines...

    WHL

    Bob McCown weighs on the discussion (slash silly season story) about revamping the Memorial Cup format. (Prime Time Sports)

    Victoria's new No. 1 goalie, Coleman Vollrath, looked impressive in his exhibition debut. No mention of how long the dry scrape took in Delta, B.C., before the Royals and Kamloops Blazers played 31 seconds of 4-on-4 hockey. (Victoria Times-Colonist)

    Lethbridge's Tyler Wong is hopeful of rebounding from a season that was shortened by a brain injury. (Cochrane Eagle)

    Will Moose Jaw climb out of its post-Morgan Rielly doldrums? (The Pipeline Show)

    OHL

    It's Sonny Milano and he's doing stuff for the Plymouth Whalers. (Detroit Free Press)

    Buffalo Sabres prospect Nick Baptiste will miss "a couple of weeks" with a lower-body injury. Hey, if there's any good time to be hurt, it's the last two weeks of preseason. (Sudbury Star)

    Sophomore Nikita Korostelev had a four-point night

    Read More »from Baptiste banged up: the coast-to-coast
  • Ottawa Redblacks' Zack Evans (92)attempts to grab B.C. quarterback Travis Lulay (14) during CFL football action between the Ottawa Redblacks and B.C. Lions, in Ottawa on Friday September 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred ChartrandOttawa Redblacks' Zack Evans (92)attempts to grab B.C. quarterback Travis Lulay (14) during CFL football action between the Ottawa Redblacks and B.C. Lions, in Ottawa on Friday September 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

    Rarely does a winning CFL team walk to their locker room as quietly as the B.C. Lions did on Friday night, while quarterback Travis Lulay knelt in the hallway at TD Place in pain.

    The Lions gutted out a 7-5 win over the Ottawa Redblacks in the second no-touchdown slogfest in three weeks at TD Place on Friday, but the former league MVP appeared to re-injure the right shoulder that he had surgery on last November. In a contest that was delayed 21 minutes by a thunderstorm, Lulay had the ball slip out of his hand as he set up to pass in the final two minutes. In the ensuing scramble for the ball, the Lions quarterback was the last man up.

    The Lions (6-4) were very tight-lipped about Lulay's condition afterward.

    "We're not sure yet but he's getting evaluated," Lions coach Mike Benevides said. "We'll know more as the night goes on. You take a look at it. The ball slipped out of his hands. He went to recover it and there was a big pile. I feel bad for him. He was in some pain.

    "He had done

    Read More »from Travis Lulay injury overshadows B.C. Lions outlasting Ottawa Redblacks for ugly 7-5 win
  • Sportsnet, CHL out to 'revitalize' Memorial Cup format

    Action from Game 6 of the MasterCard Memorial Cup between the Guelph Storm and London Knights on Wednesday May 21, 2014. The Storm defeated the Knights 7-2. Photo by Aaron Bell/CHL ImagesAction from Game 6 of the MasterCard Memorial Cup between the Guelph Storm and London Knights on Wednesday May 21, 2014. The Storm defeated the Knights 7-2. Photo by Aaron Bell/CHL Images

    Tradition is nice; higher TV ratings are better.

    For all that is unique and wonderful about the 10 days in May that comprise the Memorial Cup tournament, the protracted format and the fact one team has essentially bought its spot by assuming the liability of hosting makes it rather remote to the casual fan.

    The latter, of course, is who Sportsnet has its sights squarely set on after laying out $5.2 billion over 12 years to land national NHL rights (and, with less fanfare, securing Canadian Hockey League rights for the same timespan). On Thursday, Sportsnet president Scott Moore said the network and the CHL plan to "revitalize" the tournament's format, which has been in use since 1983. Going to a one-and-done, single-elimination format similar to the NCAA tournament (AKA March Madness) is one of the scenarios on the table.

    From Gabriel Beland, translated:"Whenever the content increases, it's great for us. What is good with March Madness in the United States is that it lasts three

    Read More »from Sportsnet, CHL out to 'revitalize' Memorial Cup format
  • Hard road to NHL job for Horvat: the coast-to-coast

     

    Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    Count Saskatoon Blades managing partner Colin Priestner as an analtyics acolyte: "You don't have to be a believer in advanced stats to see that a player is 43 per cent worse than his linemates at getting the puck out of the zone." (Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

    Minnesota Wild draftee Reid Duke's summation on ending his holdout in Lethbridge: "It was a long summer, but finally we came to a decision that it was the best thing for me to come and play with my team." (Lethbridge Herald)

    Breakout candidate alert: centre Thomas Foster in Vancouver. Maybe if he starts going by Tommy full-time. (Vancouver Province)

    Is a move to the blueline in the offing for Regina's Carter Hansen? (Regina Leader-Post)

    All-name team candidate Jackson Whistle has the line on being Kelowna's No. 1 goalie. (Kelowna Capital News)

    OHL

    Not sure why Connor McDavid needs a preseason, but he put up five points for Erie on

    Read More »from Hard road to NHL job for Horvat: the coast-to-coast
  • Hockey Canada hopeful less is more at under-17 level

    A few years back, future top NHL draft prospects Nathan MacKinnon and Seth Jones played at the world under-17 challenge. It was not much of a portent for the season-long debate of their merits leading up to the 2013 NHL draft. The then 16-year-old Jones' Team USA skated to an easy 12-1 win over a 15-year-old MacKinnon and Team Atlantic.

    Hopefully, that illustrates what Hockey Canada overhauled the under-17 component of its program of excellence last spring. If one did a retcon of that 2011 tournament, that mismatch involving Jones and MacKinnon would not only have not occurred, but the latter would not have been playing since he was a from a region that often had to dip into the minor hockey ranks to fill out its roster.

    Problems often begin at the roots. The long-time model for the U17 involved Canada sending five regional squads, but the rest of the world's improvement has made that obsolete. Maybe the counter move is a little belated — Team Ontario finishing sixth in 2013 was a tipoff something was awry — but better late than never. Canada is icing just three teams chosen at large (Red, Black, and White) for the November U17 in Sarnia, Ont.

    Read More »from Hockey Canada hopeful less is more at under-17 level
  • WHL's 'dry scrape before overtime' trial run has some bugs to work out

     

    Flames prospect Morgan Klimchuk and his Regina Pats had a WHL-high 12 OT wins last season (Larry MacDougal, The Canadian Press)Flames prospect Morgan Klimchuk and his Regina Pats had a WHL-high 12 OT wins last season (Larry MacDougal, The Canadian Press)

    An idea is only as good as the execution. Generally speaking, it feels more like a legitimate outcome when a hockey team seals a regular-season win during 4-on-4 overtime instead of during the shootout, derisively called the 'circus' or 'breakaway relay.'

    The Western Hockey League is trying to foster some better play in overtime by adapting the NHL's new rule of having Zamboni drivers 'dry scrape' the ice before teams begin the 4-on-4 session. The intentions are noble, but it's turned the usual two-minute breather between the third period and OT into a 10-or-more-minute mini-intermission. That would likely not occur in NHL buildings, which usually use two Zambonis to repair the ice between periods, but it is an issue in major junior level.

    Moose Jaw Times-Herald beat writer Matthew Gourlie said it "took nearly 12 minutes to do the dry scrape — two-thirds of a normal intermission — and they played 34 seconds of overtime" before a game last week. It was a similar story during an

    Read More »from WHL's 'dry scrape before overtime' trial run has some bugs to work out
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    Lucas Johansen, brother of the Columbus Blue Jackets' Ryan Johansen, is making a case to stick on the Kelowna Rockets blueline. (Kelowna Capital News)

    Victoria is moving 18-year-old Jack Walker back to the blueline, 'cause he who chase two rabbits catch none. (Victoria Times-Colonist)

    Loves me some potential Vancouver Giants roster movies. (Vancouver Province

    So just what is the pecking order in the B.C. Division? (The Pipeline Show)

    Edmonton Oilers tickets are cost-prohibitive. Fortunately, there's a more affordable ticket in town. (Oil on Whyte)

    The realities of the small-market team: the annual anxiety about selling enough season tickets. (Prince Albert Daily Herald)

    OHL

    Apparently it is news that the Florida Panthers got the No. 1 overall choice signed. (Eye on Hockey, USA Today)

    Read More »from Ekblad signs, Hockey Canada gets into the analytics game: the coast-to-coast
  • Cummins' Axemen received strong support in the first CIS top 10 pollCummins' Axemen received strong support in the first CIS top 10 poll

    Now that is a counter play. On the whole, Atlantic University Sport football has struggled over the last half-decade to earn respect on a national level across CIS. But that is not the be-all, end-all of the university football experience; the Uteck and Mitchell Bowl national semifinals and Vanier Cup comprise but two weeks of a three-month season.

    No AUS team was ranked in the first CIS football top 10 poll of the season and no league member has competed in the Vanier since 2007. So that was obviously hot-button during the league's preseason news conference on Wednesday, but you have to love the way Acadia Axemen coach Jeff Cummins turned it around.


    From Chris Cochrane:

    “The reality at the end of the day is Calgary is going to win, Laval is going to win and Western is going to win,” Cummins said at the news conference.

    “They’ve got more money than anybody knows what to do with and they are going to continue to be getting more money than they know what to do with. There is a

    Read More »from 'Here, there’s parity': Acadia Axemen coach Jeff Cummins calls out other CIS football conferences for lack of competitiveness
  • Forward Connor McDavid skates during the Team Canada National Junior hockey team summer development camp practice in Brossard, Que., Sunday, August 3, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Graham HughesForward Connor McDavid skates during the Team Canada National Junior hockey team summer development camp practice in Brossard, Que., Sunday, August 3, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Graham Hughes

    In an ideal make-believe junior hockey world, Connor McDavid and his once-a-generation aptitude would only be associated with the Erie Otters, period, full stop.

    In 2008-09, the last time the Ontario Hockey League boasted the hands-down, coulda-gone-No. 1-a-year-earlier-too NHL draft prospect, John Tavares ended up going from the Oshawa Generals to the London Knights in a deadline deal following the world junior championship. A lot would have to happen for that history to repeat itself — and it should be topmost that Tavares reportedly wanted a change of scenery to play out his time in the OHL — but perhaps it shouldn't be dismissed totally out of hand. Over the Labour Day weekend, long-time league chronicler Mike Farwell gave voice to the scenario that could play out later this fall.


    Here is Farwell (@farwell_ohl), via The Pipeline Show (@TPS_Guy):

    "He is as dynamic as they come, as good a player as I've ever seen in this league. When you've got him on your team I think you're

    Read More »from Connor McDavid 'moving' in OHL trade certainly not out of realm of possibility

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