Hello boys and girls. It's been quite a while since I've written anything here on PPP, so I decided to shake off the rust by highlighting the importance a number of players from Newfoundland and Labrador have had on the way these playoffs are shaking out. I don't think there has ever been another time in history where there has been such a large crop of talented NL-NHLers in the league at one time, and with the recent news that the Winnipeg Jets' (WHEN they move from Atlanta) farm team will be moved to St. John's in time for the upcoming season, one can only imagine that more and more Newfoundlanders will be visible to scouts - a welcome change for the comparatively isolated talent pool.
While 3 players from the island - representing 3 of the 4 teams - remain in the playoffs, the cup is guaranteed to make a visit this summer since one of Vancouver's assistant coaches (from my hometown of Labrador City), Darryl Williams is from the province. In addition to Luke Adam (BUF/AHL's Portland) and Danny Cleary (DET), who have already been eliminated from contention, and several others (Adam Pardy (CGY/Abbotsford), Colin Greening (OTT/Binghamton) failing to make the post-season, Newfoundlanders are quickly becoming very important for many teams around the league. Here is some more about the years the 3 remaining players have had.
Ryane Clowe (San Jose Sharks) - Clowe had a whale of a season, putting up career highs in both goals and points (24-38-64) in just over 15 minutes of ice per game. He has also had a great playoff run thus far, with 5 goals and 9 assists as of the moment I am writing this (2nd intermission of Van-SJS Game #4 - AKA PenaltyMania V: The Mega Powers Explode). He also hasn't been afraid to get not only physical, which is very much a part of his game, but also vocal, calling out the biggest douchebag to ever wear a Canucks jersey, Maxim Lapierre after Game #2 of the WCFs.Fun fact: Clowe's hometown of Fermeuse, NL, has a population of 284 people. The "e" at the end of his name? No. Idea. Whatsoever.
Teddy Purcell (Tampa Bay Lightning) - Clowe however, is still not the highest-scoring Newfoundlander in the playoffs this year, as Teddy Purcell has exploded onto the scene in a huge way, with 4 goals and 11 assists as of this writing in the post-season, spending a lot of time playing with Lecavalier and St. Louis at different times throughout this stretch. In 81 games this season, his first complete NHL season, the 25-year-old St. John's native put up 17 goals and 34 assists for the Lightning, 35 points more than his previous career-high. We'll be hearing a lot more from this kid in the future, I guarantee it. Very smart with the puck and has taken to pressure and opportunity very well. He never really got much of a bump from the Kings - it's ok though, they employ Alexei Ponikarovsky.
Michael Ryder (Boston Bruins) - Ahhh the old salty bastard from Bonavista, NL. Even though he's a Newfoundlander, my duties as a Leafs fan have prevented me from liking him since they moment he debuted - especially when he put up back to back 30 goal seasons with the Habs from '05-07. His numbers have dropped off in recent years, but he has proven that he still can produce in critical moments. He has 5 goals and 5 assists in this years' playoffs, with 2 of those 5 being game-winners, one of those being the critical series-swinging OT winner in game 4 of the Montreal series. He's not what he used to be, but still a great asset.
Keep your eyes and ears open for more NL talent in the coming years, months, weeks, however long you feel you can keep your eyes and your ears open.
P.S.: Clowe has scored again since I've started writing this.
Thanks for reading, Up The Hammers.