Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Top 125 and counting......

The Western Hockey League today unveiled a list that I'm assuming it's sole purpose of unveilment was to spark a  great deal of controversy and banter being how we're days away from the commencement of the 2015-2016 regular season. When I perused through this list, which for clarification purposes was a list consisting of the top one hundred and twenty five players in the league's history, some notable omissions were visible. As a disclaimer, as with any list there's a quarrel of subjectivity that goes into the making of these, and when I give my below thoughts by no means am I saying conclusively that the picks that I'm choosing to omit are not worthy, I'm just here to provide input on players that I believe deserve to be on the list. What I will do is include three names that I am choosing to take off the list with naming a replacement for each.

Andrew Ladd(Vancouver Giant/Calgary Hitmen) replacing with Gilbert Brule(Vancouver Giants)

All due respect to Andrew Ladd as what he has done professionally has exceeded even my wildest expectations, but we're basing this solely of Western Hockey League escapades, and by no means do I correlate a great junior hockey player with Andrew Ladd. Essentially, during the majority of his tenure with the Calgary Hitmen he was able to ride Ryan Getzlaf's coat tails which pampered his mediocre statistic line. Ladd is widely considered as one of the best leaders in the game but unfortunately that doesn't translate to an incredible junior specimen.

Gilbert Brule was from my viewpoint the original Giant. He revolutionized the way Giant hockey was played for nearly a decade. His statistics while playing for the Giants were extraordinary and further to that, his leadership on the ice led to increased team success being featured in a Memorial Cup. Although up for debate as many will signal Brendan Gallagher's way, I could make a strong case for Brule being the greatest Giant ever thusfar. Brule didn't have as much to work with compared to Gallagher, stat lines are similar which leads me to this theory, Is this list aided by a  players evolution to the professional ranks, because if so I find that vastly unfair. So what that Brule seemingly lost his passion to play at an early age, you can't take away that he was a great member of the WHL.

Marian Hossa(Portland Winterhawks) replacing with Greg Evtushevski(Kamloops Junior Oilers/Blazers)

This one causes me the most grief. Why the heck is Marian Hossa on this list?? The  Western Hockey League historians are rewarding players for abusing the system to fast track their way to the National Hockey League. It's  a joke. He was a member of the Portland Winterhawks for one season. Hossa came to the Western Hockey League for one purpose, and one purpose only and that was to get his one year of service in North America under his belt to show NHL scouts he was ready for the next level. If he was told prior to the 1997-1998 hockey season that he would require another year of seasoning he would've bolted back to Europe, this is factual. Based off of Hossa's inclusion, I want to know where the Martin Hanzal's, Peter Kalus', and the Marek Schwarz's are on this list? Laughable!

Greg Evtushevski(not a name I want to particularly keep typing out) doesn't get the credit he deserves due to being overshadowed by more prominent names on the Kamloops' teams. For two seasons, Greg lined up alongside Dean Evason, who later made a name for himself in coaching circles and for that reason he's not getting the love from the "historians" because the perception was that he was carried by Evason. Evtushevski(take three) lacks recognizability among most but this diminutive speedster at 5'8 was a pioneer of sorts because as the game during the mid to late eighties was becoming more clutching and grabbing themed,  he showed that a small player can still succeed in this type of environment.

Adam Lowry(Swift Current Broncos) replacing with Jordan Weal(Regina Pats)

For another disclaimer, they aren't many bigger Adam Lowry fans out there, but I'm sorry are we once again condoning a one hit wonder during his stay in the Western Hockey League? From what I remember unless I'm way out to lunch, which I'm not is that Lowry actually underachieved during his junior career sans the 2012-2013 campaign.  Yes, his season in 12-13 was M.V.P-esque but other than that he struggled with consistency as fans of Speedy Creek clamored to a player that was big and strong but lacked any tangible hockey I.Q. His play has immensely developed under the watchful eye of the Winnipeg Jets and he now projects to be a serviceable top nine forward.

 I can speak on the value of Jordan Weal with a degree of background as a local Reginan I saw the player Weal developed into while a member of the  Regina Pats. Some will vehemently disagree with this, and that's okay but from my experience we can't definitively say that all of Weal success' were due to Jordan Eberle in the picture but what I will ascertain is that a lot of Eberle's junior exploits can be in thanks of Weal. Eberle gets preferential treatment for who he was, being the local boy and scoring a plethora of ridiculous goals at the World Junior Hockey Championships but what Weal has done is as special. By no means am I implying that Eberle should be off this list, because in reality he's probably top twenty five within the top one hundred and twenty five but at same token Jordan Weal also deserves great recognition, something for whatever reason he isn't receiving.

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