New low for Sault at OHL draft

April 10, 2016

Only two players from Sault Ste. Marie were selected at Saturday’s Ontario Hockey League draft — which is the lowest total in more than 40 years.

To begin, let’s not take away the limelight from the two players who were deservedly selected from the Soo Major Thunderbirds of the Great North Midget Hockey League at the 2016 OHL draft, namely forwards Keegan Stevenson and Lucas Theriault.

Stevenson went to the Guelph Storm with the first pick of the sixth round and the Niagara IceDogs selected GNMHL scoring leader Theriault in the 12th round.

But the fact that only two players from Sault Ste. Marie were chosen by OHL teams this year represents the worst showing by the Soo since the open draft format was introduced more than 40 years ago.

By comparison, while just the two players from Sault Ste. Marie were selected at the 2016 OHL draft, seven skaters from Sudbury were picked, including one in the second round and three in the third. Even North Bay, which is not known for having a good minor hockey system, had two players drafted at the 2016 process.

This marks the second straight year that a player from Sault Ste. Marie has not gone in the top five rounds. At the 2015 OHL draft, four Soo boys were taken — one in each of rounds six, eight, nine and 15.

Not since the 2014 OHL draft when the Kingston Frontenacs took forward Zack Dorval in the second round and the 2013 draft when the Soo Greyhounds picked forward Blake Speers in the first round have players from the Sault Ste. Marie minor hockey system been high picks.

Not sure exactly what all of this says about what is going on at the minor hockey level in Sault Ste. Marie.

But some of what it says can’t be all that good.

What you think about “New low for Sault at OHL draft”

  1. This is truly unfortunate! Always loved seeing the strong representation of local kids as they made their way back to the Soo and played in their hometown vs Greyhounds! Here’s hoping that trend reverses itself very soon!

  2. my thoughts on whats happening has been the same thing thats been going on for years . southern ontario has a bigger area for hockey players more big sponsors for teams also a few more coaches who played hockey some where.. the sault over the years has always had good teams and players coaches, but when it was time too meet down south we are out numbered . Also the usa, european kids they are in the draft, more big competion for the north . The cost for northern kids too play is more than in the south. my thoughts are we will always have the kids and coaches but not the population and of coarse the big thing costs of playing and travelling. also we have our local hockey scouts who help our local kids but the i dont see too many from the south coming north once in awhile. un less we have a big tournment here.regards r. stephney

  3. Maybe it doesn’t say anything about our system. And if it does , what changes do you propose… More games …pay the coaches ? …higher costs for every family.!!!Maybe it’s simply our geography… The southern scouts which represent most of them see our boys in tourneys and maybe on tape… While the top Toronto teams play all the other top teams all the time. Perhaps you can be an average player on a good Toronto team and get drafted but need to be quite a bit above average while living in the north. No minor midget team here I would think does not help….

  4. Howman,

    Our geography did not prevent Zack Dorval from going to the Kingston Frontenacs in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft.

    1. You can hardly include Dorval as coming from the rep system when he only played one year here after developing in Hearst I do believe

      1. He still played here as a minor midget, a key year. He specifically left Hearst to come here. What’s fair is fair, what’s fact is fact, he was drafted by Kingston from the Soo minor midgets.

  5. Sadly, the draft eligible kids this year had no hope because Sault Major executives decided to pull the pin on the Minor Midget program due to low numbers in the Major Midget program. Sudbury kept their minor midget program and had 7 kids drafted. Timmins comparably did better then the Sault when comparing population numbers. The fact remains that OHL scouts could care less about the Great North Midget League as indicated by these embarrassing results and consequently exposed our development program for what it is…..a complete failure . These results scream for change. The first and foremost change required is that the current President of Sault Major steps down and is replaced by someone who has a sound hockey background. I realize volunteers are important , but you cannot put a volunteer, especially one with no hockey experience or knowledge in a position of making decisions for a hockey development program. Then further expect parents to pay extraordinarily ridiculous amounts of money to play there. Minor hockey is at very very sad state in SSM and requires change.

  6. What needs to happen is the minor midget team has to have all the better players not one guy major one guy Tbirds one guy to southern Ontario…
    Minor midget is the most important year ,the minor system should gear for that year.
    Tough to get all the hard heads in one direction but that would be a start ,all the minor systems need to feed the one year ,put in the right coach(not a dad) pay the right person then possibly can start to trend in right direction.

  7. As a parent that has been through the Sault Major Rep Program with two sons there are many problems.

    1. The powers to be of the AAA teams think they’re above everyone. It’s an old boys club. Many good questions are never answered. Many good suggestions aren’t even considered. There’s no transparency on financial statements. You need to keep your customers happy to run successful programs. If not they go somewhere else (top kids go to S. Ont, middle kids go to high school hockey).

    2. Our kids aren’t properly developed. Ice time is wasted trying to accomplish things that the majority of the players can’t do. How about going back to basics and teaching skill & power-skating. Coaches need to evaluate their team and alter practice plans to improve the players. What has worked in the past may not work today (Currently Bantam Major AAA rated # 52 in Ontario and the Bantam Minor AAA team ranked #55 – dead last in Ontario). Why not hold a extra skill practice once each week……. So what does Sault Major do, they reward the coaches by giving them the teams again next season.

    3. Hockey is changing, coaches and team programs need to change with it. Why can Soo Minor AAA teams fund dryland training and not Sault Major AAA teams? Sault Minor AAA teams charge less than half the cost of Sault Major AAA teams.

    4. To go along with cost, why do teams take buses everywhere they go when parents drive behind in their own vehicles. I agree there’s a benefit in taking buses to far away tournaments, but buses to Sudbury, Nickel City, North Bay, Traverse City, Marquette… to name a few are a waste of team funds. In general using buses September through December 15th aren’t required. Having a bus budget of $15,000 compared to a bus budget of $55,000 would save parents $2,300.00 each.

    5. Coaching needs to change. There are many qualified coaches within our city that would love to get involved. They would bring new ideas and new teaching methods. What has been done in the past often doesn’t work now. Sault Major needs fresh new coaches.

    6. Leadership is a huge problem. Currently Sault Major is a ship without a qualified captain. Recent examples include, canceling the major midget Program, canceling the Minor Midget Program, the embarrassing media coverage (internet, national news, CBC Radio) concerning the parent group from Sault Minor, the lack of ice time for our young kids (parents/kids forced to go to Soo MI for tryouts), the ongoing fighting with Soo PeeWee Hockey league and the powers at Sault Minor. A shake up and huge change is needed. You need hockey people leading your hockey organization.

    7. Correct our mind set, we can compete in S. Ont. Stop making excuses for the coaches and players. Run true AAA programs and the results will speak for themselves.

    8. The future doesn’t look bright. Next year the 01 group may have two players drafted into the O. The following year, the 02 group could be shutout on OHL draft day. Think about that, zero players drafted. Change is need now, not tomorrow now.

    It’s very frustrating to see what is going on in SSM with regard to AAA Rep hockey at the Bantam and Midget levels of hockey.

    Time to make some changes and have the ship sail proudly.

    Randy, thanks for the article and the opportunity to provide constructive feedback. Hopefully things change, our youth deserve better opportunities.

  8. Agree with most of what John said. Add to it that some years are weak, some great. The 96 & 97 birth years were last strong ones. The 01’s will have 2-3, 02’s won’t have one and then it will pick up with the 04’s being similar to 97’s……if…….Sault Major doesn’t run these guys out of town like they seem to be doing lately with the higher end players.

    Stop dictating and work with the parents to make it affordable. If the team staff doesn’t want to do the work to make it cheaper because they have been there for decades and they have gotten too lazy, its time for them to move out of they way. Also, stop holding personal grudges because someone has an opposing view. Listen and you may learn!

    Lastly for my 2 cents, this crap going on at the younger age group must stop. Taking all the ice so other can’t have it? Bet you took all the toys in the sandbox too.

    People must see that some operate for control and money, some are set up for revenge and others must fend everyone off.

  9. Haha, I like that sandbox analogy!
    You’re bang on about the ‘crap’ at the younger level. If our roots are weakened by short-sighted and spiteful BS, we will never maintain a strong trunk and branches. And on top of that, it’s damn embarrassing to be writing letters and appeals to the NOHA for 8 year olds!! 8 year olds! Think about that for a second. A ‘release’ for a little kid? And “Denial” to sign a ‘release’ for an 8 year old kid? Yanking away ice time? Is that a punishment? To whom?
    What next, agents for these kids? They’re grade 3’s!

  10. Well said that’s the truth, Sault Major hockey has gone back 50years and needs a major change from TOP TO BOTTOM. THE KIDS are the biggest losers here…need HOCKEY PEOPLE in place.

    1. I agree totally Jim, the old school methods don’t work today, and parents want more when they dish out large amounts of money to these organizations. Well let me tell you I’ve seen it first hand, good players getting pushed down to favour coaches kids and friends kids, behaviours by staff that are borderline abusive. The rep system is a mess. I wish people would talk to the kids and let them tell you their experiences, because as a parent you are being intimidated and ignored by the executive on every single complaint. They even go as far as threatening with lawsuits. People are afraid to speak up because they know the kids will suffer if they bring anything forward and they won’t be believed. The horror stories coming out of the kids mouths is unbelievable. Let’s start listening to the kids and stop this one sided development system. Just look at the draft, 2 kids and no one says they were coached by their own fathers. See a pattern here. These arrogant people should be accountable for their actions.,They destroy kids fun, and destroy any potential futures in hockey , Bring down the monsters that are the problem. Bring back fair and fun development, stop worrying about winning every game and teaching systems at 8 years old and concentrate on individual skills and have some fun doing it ! This isn’t a military school for kids ! This isn’t a private development system for people who the system deems worthy. Too many kids getting screwed here !! Just go on the rep systems web site and have a good laugh, they claim to select only kids talented enough to play at a higher level lol I never seen and heard so much bs in my life. Any selection year that I’ve seen has left behind some of the most talented kids in the dust for political reasons . That’s how they work and these are facts. Just ask some of the kids if anyone wavts to challenge that. Many many
      People have also witnesses this. No one has the balls to stand up ! I hope this mess is fixed soon before many more fall through the cracks !! The fun is gone and that’s the biggest problem here. It’s not going to get better until these people are removed and the system is totally changed. I highly
      Doubt it will change but thank god for choices in hockey right now. Without other options one organization will get away with murder !! Does anyone challenge that choices are a bad thing ? Competition makes it better for everyone and is the only reason this mess was brought forward in the first place. Other wise it would have been the same for many years to come. Time for change all the way around !!

  11. Our local scouts get a favor pick every year and now he`s a hero…..come on people, they are the reason for this. Yes our association can be blamed for some I agree….

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