As the Mats Sundin saga continues, I can't help but wonder what Stefan Legein is doing these days. The last I heard, the Columbus draft choice was working in a pizza place. While the two men don't have a lot in common on or off the ice, there's one thing that Mats Sundin and Stefan Legein do have in common. It's burn-out.
Sundin is waiting to see if those competitive fires burn again while Legein is already fried at the age of 19. The second round draft choice told the Blue Jackets in August that he was hanging up his skates.
I hope those fires burn again for Legein. I found him to have a great life force when we talked to him on Draft Day in June of 2007. He was full of energy. At that time, he was looking forward to taking a shot at having an NHL career. Somewhere last season, that energy disappeared.
It was noticeable as the Niagara Ice Dogs were eliminated from the OHL playoffs. It was even more noticeable when Legein asked to go home after playing two playoff games with the Blue Jackets' AHL affiliate in Syracuse.
Burn-out is burn-out at any age.
While Sundin is tired after a lengthy NHL sojourn, Legein has had his fill getting ready playing summer hockey, taking part in summer camps and playing the sport 12 months of the year. He's worked hard. I hope with some time off, the fires burn again for Legein. If they don't, he deserves to be happy in whatever he does.
The later start for NHL training camps this year (Sept 19th) hasn't helped major junior hockey teams. Prospect tournaments 'came a calling' and junior teams watched their stars leave their camps anyway. Some of those stars then headed to the big camps so their junior jerseys are still hanging in their lockers unused. It will skew the early season in junior hockey but things will settle in by October as many of the draftees return.
On The Rebound?
This will be a long season filled with speculation as to whether John Tavares will end up as the top pick at this year's entry draft. It shouldn't bother him. The spotlight has been on the Oakville, Ontario native ever since he was granted rare exemption status and drafted into Major Junior hockey as a 14-year-old.
Scouts are looking to see if this will be a bounce back year. It's a funny thing to say when a guy scores 40 goals but after lighting the lamp 72 times with the Oshawa Generals in 2006-07, last year was a disappointment.
Insiders say the most troubling aspect of the drop-off was that it couldn't just be blamed on the amount of time he spent winning a gold medal with the Canadian Junior Team at the World Championship. There were concerns about his on-ice work ethic. No longer a lock for the #1 spot, some are even questioning whether he may slip further.
This much I can tell you: he's rededicated and he wants to be #1. He's fighting through traffic and getting to the tough areas in games and he's intent on putting more effort into practices. Off the ice he's told friends he wouldn't be surprised if he's traded this season but he's not waiting and is looking to be a leader in Oshawa for now. Quietly, he has had a positive impact on those around him. At his high school, he's coached a group of Special Olympians at lunch hour, far exceeding his time commitment for class grades.
Good luck this year, John.
Here's a great idea from Bobby Hull. The man who helped open management's vault door for present-day players says instead of spending thousands of dollars on rookie initiation dinners each year, young players should instead look at contributing that money to the NHL Alumni. It would help past players and as Bobby says someday that fund may turn out to help them. You never know...