The Ottawa 67s of the recent past have been inconsistent, lacking in-depth, featuring moments of brilliance but lacking the ability to come up on top when it counts. With their stadium being among the biggest in the League, the other hockey team in Ottawa is in the midst of a rebuild, and a couple of the NHL’s top prospects, the Ottawa 67s as a business and hockey team has a chance to reach new heights.
In a league where five years from a single-player is fortunate; scouting, drafting, and developing .young players is the key to long-term success. The London Knights or Windsor Spitfires of years past had perfected this recruitment process, while Guelph and Ottawa seem to be the spot producing the young stars of the future.
The Ottawa 67’s are lucky to be in one of the larger metropolitan areas in junior hockey being able to scout a large number of the stars of tomorrow, who have grown up watching the 67s or Senators during their prime.
Whether it be stars like Rob Brindamour or Mike Gartner or current NHL mainstays like Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Erik Gundbranson, The city of Ottawa has produced 1000’s of NHL players. With a metropolitan population of approximately 1.3 million, the 67s have been able to find late-round steals through sheer familiarity alone.
In recent years, this has led to finding players like Ranvir Gill-Shane and goaltender Cedrick Andree, who were drafted in rounds four, and twelve of the Bantam draft respectively. Not only are there a couple of exceptional draft steals from the Ottawa area, but players such as Graeme Clarke and Merrick Rippon have also developed exceptionally well close to home, representing both their hometown and their junior team at the NHL draft in years past.
Before the past two seasons, the Ottawa 67s really struggled with squad depth and although they had players who were able to make an impact on their own like Travis Konecny, they did not feature the secondary scoring or defensive backbone to take them beyond the first round of the playoffs. In the past two seasons, the Ottawa 67s have traded for depth players like Adam Varga or Kyle Maksimovich, and have excelled in running four lines, taking the stress off of stars like Marco Rossi and Jack Quinn.
The defence has been a similar story with ten defenders featuring over the season for the 67’s while not a single one of them is a minus player or has over 60 penalty minutes. As they’ve seen injuries to many key players on defence this season, the fact that they are able to rotate their squad and demand solid performances from young players up and down the line-up is remarkable and a true testament to the success of these players and the system they play in.
A good balance on management:
Speaking of the system, it’s hard to have a consistently successful team without a leading front-office team. After a difficult tenure as a head coach in Mississauga, James Boyd came in as the General Manager of the Ottawa 67’s prior to the 2017-18 season. Under Boyd, the 67’s did improve from 5th to 4th in the conference for their first season, but his impact can be seen most in the past two seasons with the trade’s and draft picks he has made. Boyd is responsible for bringing in imports Marco Rossi and Nikita Okhotyuk who have made incredible impacts on the team and league, with the former being ranked in the top-5 for the upcoming NHL draft. Boyd’s trades have also been effective with players like Merrick Rippon, and Micheal Dipietro making significant impacts on the team’s performance.
On the bench, it is a similar story of transition as Andre Tourigny has come in and dominated the league, leading to consistent performances and international roles and recognition. Although he has a long way to go before he matches the icon Brian Kilrea, Tourigny’s recognition by Hockey Canada and performance with the 67s is to be applauded and his strong style has led to great improvement throughout the organization. The next step for the coach and the entire organization is to defeat the dreaded OHL Finals and qualify for the Memorial Cup.
Canada assistant coach André Tourigny made the catch as the puck was flying over the glass to avoid the penalty 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/uvfdW7LUGE
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) December 26, 2019
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If the 67’s are able to perfect their off-ice product and find consistency through their front office system then the team has the potential to be successful as a hockey team and business for years to come.