Bill Stewart #TBT

After a fine performance in the Memorial Cup Championships this past Sunday, this weeks Throw Back Thursday is dedicated to the scariest person, best fisherman and most successful coach I know, the assistant coach of the 2014 Memorial Cup finalist Guelph Storm, Bill Stewart.

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Bill Stewart, or “Stewie” as I affectionately call him is the scariest human being I’ve ever met.  I mean look at the image above and imagine skating down the wing towards that intimidating creature.  That’s him smiling.  He’s incredibly happy to have his picture taken, especially in the uniform of his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs.  Stewie made his first strides in the NHL for the Buffalo Sabres in 1977 after being drafted 68th overall after a well traveled junior career.  Known for his rough and tumble style, Bill had soft hands and heavy mitts and went on to have a relatively successful professional career bouncing between the AHL and NHL for 9 years before truly finding his calling in Italy.  After 7 seasons in Italy he was able to get Italian citizenship and played for the Italian National Team in the 1992 and 1993 World Championships as well as the 1992 and 1994 Olympic Games.

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After a lengthy playing career, Stewie pursued his next calling where he stood behind the bench and scared the hell out of his players until they played exactly how he wanted them to.  His coaching career took a more linear progression than his playing career,. and he seemed to rocket from Ontario Jr B, to winning an OHL championship with the Oshawa Generals, to coaching in the AHL and finally a stint with the New York Islanders all within the first 4 years of retirement.  Though the NHL job didn’t last for long, he quickly rebounded the following year taking the Barrie Colts to the Memorial Cup finals where they ultimately lost.  After a questionable incident involving Vladimir Chernenko hiding in the equipment bags under the bus travelling over the US border, Stewie took his brilliant coaching style over to the German Elite League where he immediately won a Championship in Mannheim, where he may or may not have faked a heart attack during the finals to buy an extra timeout.

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Terrifying I know!!!  Finally, after 8 years in Germany and some heart to heart talks with CHL Commissioner David Branch, Stewie is back at the helm with the Guelph Storm along with fellow CHE hockey camp instructor Mike Kelly.  Together for the past 3 years, they built the Storm into a veritable force to be reckoned with and the team to beat heading into this years Memorial Cup tournament.  Ultimately they lost by 1 goal in a crushing defeat to the Edmonton Oil Kings this past Sunday, in his 3rd appearance in the Memorial Cup finals in 5 years as a coach.  That’s right.  60% of the time he’s spent in the OHL has ended in the Memorial Cup finals.

From everyone here at Canadian Hockey Enterprises, we want to send a hearty congratulations to Bill Stewart, Mike Kelly and everyone else in the Guelph Storm organization and we look forward to seeing both of you at the Peterborough camps this summer.

Once again, don’t forget to vote for the latest and greatest CHE tournament location.  Nashville once again made it through however (and not surprisingly) Honolulu took over the spot formerly held by Halifax.  Halifax is great but….come on….Hawaii!!!

Graydon Crowley

Canadian Hockey Enterprises

NHL is Back!

The NHL officially started it’s first full season in two years and even though there’s still some bitter contempt left over from yet another lockout, as hockey fans will know, it’s hard to contain my excitement for a full NHL season.  With just 3 days of hockey done already there’s already a number of very interesting story lines beginning to unfold so I thought I’d take a second and go over a few of them.

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1. Parros Goes Down

It’s very early on in the season but already the “fighting in hockey” debate has risen to the top of the hockey media stew.  The full line brawl during the pre-season game between the Leafs and Sabres got the conversation started as Leaf star Phil Kessel tried to chop the legs off Sabres goon John Scott.  I’ve already posted my thoughts on this event here, but it was obviously just the tip of the fighting debate iceberg.  What really got the debate going was when the new Habs protector George Parros was removed from the ice on a stretcher during their opening game against Leafs, last years league leader in fighting majors.  

Parros smashed his chin off the ice when both he and Leafs tough guy Colton Orr lost their footing during their second fight of the game.  Kind of a freak event, but as Don Cherry points out here, Parros is a smart guy (Princeton graduate) and knows full well that if you fight, there’s a good chance you’re going to get hurt.  That said, players on both benches were equally uneasy  and as circus-like as the Bell Centre atmosphere was throughout the game and especially during the fights, you could hear a pin drop as the Canadiens trainers began strapping Parros to a stretcher.  

In a league that’s been plagued with concussions and even deaths of some enforcers, the NHL is pretty clear when it comes to fighting.  “It’s what is special about our game,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, adding, “We don’t go out of our way to market or promote that, it is what it is and happens when it happens and while some people would prefer not to see it in the game, other people enjoy seeing it.”  The only rule added regarding fights this year was a 2 minute penalty for players who remove their own helmets during a fight, which they’ve already figured a way around and obviously was no help to Parros.  It will be interesting to see if there are any further steps taken to help protect players as the season continues.

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2. Patrick Roy goes Patrick Roy!

In a story line I had completely overlooked Patrick Roy returned to the NHL with the passion and exuberance only he can deliver.  As the new head coach of the Colorado Avalanche, Roy’s début was going extremely well holding a 6-1 lead over the Anaheim Ducks nearing the end of the 3rd period.  But with just 6 seconds left Anaheim’s Ben Lovejoy threw a questionable knee-on-knee hit on Avalanche prospect Nathan McKinnon that sent Roy off the rails.  Having just witnessed what he perceived as an attempt to injure last year’s first overall pick when the game a fat lady away from being over, Roy took exception and supposedly Lovejoy a few choice words on his way back to the bench.  This set off Boudreau who snapped back, a couple squirts from a water bottle from perennial pest Corey Perry (a former CHE camper) and Roy snapped and almost flattened Boudreau in the process.  A quick $10000, some words of wisdom from coaches around the league and a couple of interviews later and it seems like Patrick Roy is exactly where he wants to be: right in the center of the NHL spotlight.  Looks like the Colorado Avalanche might actually be worth watching this year.

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3. Leafs Nation!

There’s no one guarding their spot on Bay Street yet, but Leafs fans everywhere are ecstatic with their teams play thus far.  Though their two wins have been marred with controversy resulting from their rough and tumble playing style, there are plenty of reasons for leafs fans to be excited.  Phil Kessel seems to be in great shape and on point, which has paid off as they resigned him to an 8-year, $64 million contract extension.  Off-season acquisitions Dave Boland and Jonathon Bernier have both played pivotal roles in their quick start and seem to be settling in with their new team.  We’ve yet to see how David Clarkson performs in the blue and white during the regular season (on 10 game suspension for leaving the bench during this altercation), but he’s certainly bought the respect of his teammates and the fans by stepping up to protect the Leafs smaller, more talented players.  Like everything in the big smoke, it’s a great mix of new and old, skill and toughness, size and speed and if Randy Carlyle can somehow keep the suspensions to a minimum, they might just make a consecutive playoff appearance, which is great for Leafs Nation!

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Regardless of how you feel about last year’s lockout, October is always a great time of year for hockey fans as the season gets rolling and we get to see familiar faces in unfamiliar uniforms.  But most importantly, it’s just plain old fun to watch good hockey!  This year Canadian Hockey Enterprises has 5 tournaments with the option to see an NHL game including two games featuring the 2013 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks: on November 15 – 17 in Montreal you can see the Canadiens vs. Rangers, on March 28 – 30 you can see the Senators vs. Blackhawks in Ottawa, or see the Canucks vs. Ducks in Vancouver.  The on the weekend of April 3 – 6, teams can see the Coyotes battle the Oilers in Phoenix, or Blackhawks vs. Wild in Chicago.

Give our office a call and I’ll fill you in on the details.

Graydon Crowley

Canadian Hockey Enterprises