I just got around to reading this today, it’s from Tuesday’s London Free Press, but this is a great article with great comments from London Nationals coach Kelly Thomson about how teams need to develop their players rather than go out and try to buy up the already developed ones.
Develop players, coach urges
By Ryan Pyette, The London Free Press
Kelly Thomson believes the London Nationals’ first-round upset victory over the Chatham Maroons is a win for the future of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League.
“Hopefully, it’s a bit of a lesson (to Chatham),” the Nats head coach said. “It’s two years in a row (the Maroons) haven’t been able to necessarily accomplish what their goal was and maybe it’s time to start looking at it a different way.”
The core of the Chatham group was built with veteran players, several acquired in trades. The Maroons finished with 10 20-year-olds — including goalies Jake Patterson and Bo Bessette — this year. Last season, the club’s GM was suspended, the team stripped of player cards and fined by the Ontario Hockey Association for failing to properly declare its imports.
“Hopefully, the league gets back to developing players and teams as opposed to looking at a stats sheet and doing their trade deadline based on that,” Thomson said. “It’s much harder for everyone else to operate that way. It hasn’t been the norm for years and hopefully, we’ll see the end of it.
“There are a lot of teams in this league able to accomplish a lot with local kids and homegrown talent.”
Now, don’t forget London has the largest pool of players to draw from in the conference.
That gives the Nationals a built-in advantage over smaller communities like Chatham.
But Thomson is arguing the construction of an older super team (the Maroons finished 23 points ahead of the Nationals in the standings before falling in six games) runs counter to the objective of a developmental Junior B league.
“It makes it difficult when you put these kids on a pedestal and put a price tag (in players moved for cash) on them so high to come in and perform, it takes a lot out of them,” Thomson said. “It puts undue pressure on them and it’s not good for them. When it’s a bit of a revolving door, the guys don’t have the time to mesh and become a cohesive unit. Hopefully, the league and player movement goes back to what it was a couple of years ago.”
Thomson has no such beef with London’s next foe — the Western Conference regular-season champion Leamington Flyers.
“(Flyers GM) Mike Sadler is one of the best in the league in developing players and running his team the way it should be run,” he said. “But I think we take the same approach to Leamington as we did with Chatham. You dissect them and get the boys on board with the game plan. We’re playing with house money here.
“No one expected us to be here so there’s no reason we don’t go take a good swing at (the Flyers).”
Just don’t expect the post-series parting shot to be so blunt this time.