The historic tournament, now co-opted by a credit card company (which is actually just a technology company wrapped in a consumer brand backed by banks who'd like you to spend money and maybe not pay it all back right away...but anyway), annually features a pre-selected host squaring off against the champions from the WHL, OHL and QMJHL.
That means two teams appear from the same league each year, and this year one of those teams is Kabanov's Shawinigan Cataractes, the host.
As Buzzing the Net notes, this is the first tourney since 2006 to represent four distinct regions of Canada, with the defending champ Saint John Sea Dogs representing the Maritimes. Die By The Blade has a nice overview of recent participants now in the NHL. From the Islanders' end, Casey Cizikas played for the host team in 2011, while Travis Hamonic was in the 2010 tournament.
Shawinigan added Phoenix prospect Brandon Gormley to help load up for this event, but their QMJHL mates from Saint John are still the favorite. The Cataractes face the challenge of shaking off a monthlong layoff while the other participants went on to win their respective league titles.
Top NHL Prospects: Boston's Jared Knight is one of several NHL picks on London. But the Sea Dogs are simply loaded with NHL picks, including Jonathan Huberdeau (Fla), Charlie Coyle (Min), Nathan Beaulieu (Mon), Zack Phillips (Min), Tomas Jurco (Det) and Stanislav Galiev (Was).
2012 Draft Names: Lots of 2012 NHL Draft names in the tournament too, but ones of particular interest to Isles fans would be Olli Maatta for London and Griffin Reinhart for Edmonton.
The round-robin phase carries through Wednesday, May 23.
- Why the hate? Why is there so much hate in Islander Country? - Eyes On Isles
- Oooh lala, summer fashion?
- Official site on Ryan Strome's season, and his prescribed focus on a more two-way game.
- Canada and the U.S. are done at the IIHF. The only Isles property remaining is ... quarterfinal hero Jesse Joensuu?
- Dave Tippett on embellishing (I thought what he said was appropriate).
- Game 3 Recap: Ho, hum, the Kings are unstoppable.
- Torts rationales: In defense | Method to madness
- Top 2012 UFAs, per THN
- The handling of Tom Renney's firing isn't going over well: MacKinnon: Looking like good cop to bad cop behind bench for Oilers
- Did the Stars make major tactical adjustments mid-season? And if so, should statwonks praise them just because they think they did what statwonks think they should do?
- NHL Draft: A weighted synthesis of "consensus" top 100 prospects for the NHL Draft, with some talk of how far ahead Yakupov is. Meanwhile, here's the ISS top 30.
- Well this could get dicey: Sergei Kostitsyn criticizes handling of Radulov & AK46: Thursday's nooner - On the Forecheck
- This guy is on sports talk radio: Colin Cowherd insults pretty much every hockey writer in North America
'We Were Set Pretty Good on the Island'
Gordie Clark on changing the Rangers' philosophy toward focusing on the draft, pointing to his time with the Isles:
"Obviously that happened on the Island, and that was one of the reasons I left," said Clark, talking about a team losing patience with its young players and dealing them away. "[Zdeno] Chara was gone. [Roberto] Luongo was gone. [Todd] Bertuzzi was gone. That's when it was changing and you could see it. We were set pretty good on the Island of waiting for that to all happen. Then all of a sudden they were being traded away and that's when I decided to make my move."
... or, I mean, focusing on the draft while still adding a $7 million player per year.
Bob Mason: Trots Broke My Skate
Finally, it's only in print or their digital subscriber edition, so I'll quote from The Hockey News great look back at the Easter Epic, the 1987 quadruple OT game that went down as the longest Game 7 in history (a detail I forgot, which is seen in that video, is Brent Sutter playing with the big jaw guard):
Bob Mason: "I don't think a lot of people know this, but on [Bryan Trottier's] tying goal, my skate broke. ... I used to wear the old Lange goalie skates and they had a rivet on the heels. The rivet snapped, so my right ankle gave way, the puck hit both pads and ended up going in."
Gord Dineen: "Lou Franceschetti and I had our run-ins in the past and during that game, but there was a mutual respect there. During one play, we were banging around in the corner and the whistle blew and the two of us could barely lift ourselves off the ice. He put his arm over my shoulder to help lift himself up and I didn't stop him. To think you're going head-to-head with all you've got, then helping each other up -- that shows what we all knew we were going through, regardless of what teams we were on."
Lot of other great quotes in there.