Monday, January 14, 2008
It always comes as such a shock to the system when one realizes that the playoffs are less that a month away. In this case, I am referring to the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League.
The NHL will head into April before they begin post season action. Will the Leafs be there? Anybody’s guess. About a month ago I told one of my Hogtown buddies that the Leafs would go on a run and win several games. Sure enough, that was the case. I neglected to add that their luck would run out after that, and that there might be some hard times ahead. With salary caps, parity, injuries, travel, and all of the other factors affecting play, it is simply too difficult to predict the outcome of the NHL at the end of the regular season.
It would not surprise me one bit to see the Leafs in the playoffs. Nor would it shock me if they didn’t make it. Keeping the volume on “Mute” helps me keep a clearer head when making such decisions.
The Dukes are heading into the playoffs under a head of steam. They added a few players at the trade deadline. Those players showed well in their initial games wearing the Wellington jersey. There is always a period of adjustment when one goes to a new team; hopefully these new players will blend with the rest of the team, and help down the stretch.
The Wellington Dukes 200-2008 hockey cards are now available, but selling fast. There are 22 cards in the set, from # 1 Goaltender Paul Karpowich, to # 46 Chris Ayotte.
On the back of each card, players have listed a few of their favourites: NHL players, band/singer, and movie.
Also listed on the back of each card is a standard player profile: size, position, and home town.
Only two NHL players were named twice as favourites: Scott Niedermayer and Joe Sakic. There are eighteen other NHL players listed as favourites---even some long gone from the league. Ayotte named Doug Gilmour as his favourite player, which makes a little sense since he hails from Cornwall, and that is where Gilmour played after playing for the “Tier II Belleville Bulls”. Naturally, both Dukes’ goalies chose NHL goalies as their favourite players: Karpowich likes Patrick Roy and Jake Fischer chose Martin Brodeur.
There are four Wisconsin players on the Dukes’ roster. Jon Bockmann, the lanky blue liner from Wind Lake, is an avid Chicago Black Hawks fan. He lists Jonathan Toews as his favourite NHL player. The Hawks are a team to watch this year, and all of the Hawks’ fans from the Sixties are beginning to crawl out of the woodwork. Naturally, Bockmann is also a huge Green Bay Packer fan, and dreams about Favre firing the winning TD in the upcoming SuperBowl. Glory Days! Have they gone? Time will tell.
The Bureau brothers , Brendan and Cory, disagree on everything. Cory likes the Chili Peppers, while Brendan supports the local talent-The Tragically Hip.
As is the case with all hockey teams, players come in a wide variety of sizes. Picton’s Ian Wallwork is listed at six feet, six inches. Kyle Hawkins-Schultz stands at five feet, seven inches. Years ago, the Belleville Bulls’goaltender, Darren Pang, stood tall at 5’ 4” in the nets. He is generally listed as the smallest player ever in the NHL, when he stood between the pipes for the Hawks. He also maintains that he was not wearing his skates when they measured his height!
This is the second set of Dukes’ cards to be released. Several years ago, the set, issued during the 92-93 season, included Bryan Helmer who is currently with the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL. “Hermie” indicated on the back of his card that he would consider himself successful if he were to play semi-pro hockey. He has more than exceeded that expectation, having played several years in the NHL with Phoenix, Vancouver, and St. Louis.
The cards are available at Dukes’ home games in the canteen area, on the Chuck-A-Puck table. Individual cards sell for two bucks each, and the sets sell for $ 22. All cards are laminated, and will withstand 130 KPH winds coming off Lake Ontario!
With only a handful of home games remaining in the regular season, the Dukes will spend the next couple of weeks gearing up for the playoffs. Get to the DukeDome early. Catch the action!