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Kingston Frontenacs’ Doug Gilmour trading own son not unusual; more a sign of OHL team’s progress

Neate Sager
Buzzing The Net

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Doug Gilmour (centre) is entering his third season as the Frontenacs' GM (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

If Doug Gilmour had included a 17-year-old named Jake Wilkinson in a minor transaction instead of his son, Jake Gilmour, it probably would not have rated much attention.

Of course, it is unusual to see this happen in major junior hockey, where there's often an understanding among teams that a club be allowed to draft the son of a general manager, coach or owner. Since August is a slow time for hockey news and Gilmour had a Hall of Fame playing career before becoming the Kingston Frontenacs coach in 2008 and moving upstairs to become GM, sending 17-year-old Jake Gilmour and surplus goalie Blake Richard (who was probably the key to the deal) to the Niagara Ice Dogs was considered a "stunner" by the U.S. media. No doubt one could just imagine the awkward father-son conversation.

Lampooning it misses the point, though. The reality that Doug Gilmour broke with custom and moved his son to Niagara might signal how the Frontenacs, once the OHL's lovable underachiever, have become more purpose-driven since Gilmour and former Toronto Maple Leafs teammate Todd Gill became the GM-coach tandem in 2011. An unserious organization might have tried to force the situation; there's one contemporary example of same that might not even require a link. This was the mature decision.

Kingston is counting on being a deep team across the next two seasons, with current Canada under-18 team members Sam Bennett, Roland McKeown and Spencer Watson being their main cogs. Squeaking into the penultimate playoff berth in the Eastern Conference and being competitive during a four-game first-round loss to the Barrie Colts didn't represent a full turnaround. It was fairly commendable, though, for a team which had little playoff experience and had only six 19-year-olds and overage regulars. With very little turnover from last season, Kingston's not going to have many open roster spots.

Niagara, conversely, is in the early stage of a new building cycle. IceDogs coach-GM Marty Williamson, after an Eastern Conference title in 2012, had to hold on to graduating stars Dougie Hamilton, Brett Ritchie and Ryan Strome at last January's trade deadline since their value was compromised by the NHL lockout dragging into the new year. If Jake Gilmour is to crack an OHL lineup, his chance might be better with the IceDogs than with the Frontenacs. While it might have seemed odd, it appears father Gilmour did what has best for his son.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

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