2014 Final Draft Rankings

Posted: April 8, 2014 in Draft, Whalers


The final CSS list came out this morning and a six Whalers are on the list. There was some movement from the midterm ranks. Chatham, Peters, Mistele and Wesley dropped while Rathgeb and Nedeljkovic moved higher on the list.

Final Rank Midterm Rank Player Position
46 30 Connor Chatham Right Wing
56 36 Alex Peters Defenseman
88 51 Matt Mistele Left Wing
111 79 Josh Wesley Defenseman
129 153 Yannik Rathgeb Defenseman
4 5 Alex Nedeljkovic Goaltender

Now we have to wait until the NHL Entry Draft this June in Philadelphia to find out where they are selected in the draft.

This past Sunday a report came out from Randy Russon on his website HockeyNewsNorth.com titles “OHL Whalers leaving Plymouth?” starting the speculations that our Plymouth Whalers were looking to move out of the Plymouth area. These rumors come up from time to time, so let’s see what Randy has for us.

Multiple sources, including one close to the team, have indicated that Plymouth Whalers are looking to relocate their money-losing, Ontario Hockey League franchise.

The Michigan-based Whalers have been playing out of Compuware Arena in Plymouth since 1997.

Founded by Peter Karmanos — who also owns the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League — the Plymouth franchise has been a part of the OHL since 1990 under other names, specifically Detroit Compuware Ambassadors, Detroit Jr. Red Wings and Detroit Whalers.

According to one source, the Whalers explored the possibility of moving from Plymouth to Perani Arena and Event Centre in Flint for the 2014-2015 season.

However, the Michigan Warriors of the North American Hockey League recently signed a one-year extension of their current lease to continue to play out of the Flint arena for the 2014-2015 campaign.

Undaunted, the Plymouth organization is now said to be looking at the Southern Ontario area of Hamilton to move the Whalers.

Despite considerable success in Plymouth under coach-general manager Mike Vellucci — the team has won nine West Division titles and one OHL championship — the Whalers have routinely averaged crowds of less than 2,000 over the years.

A number of OHL fans coming to me asking if this is true. Time to fact check this article, let’s start at the beginning.

Multiple sources, including one close to the team, have indicated that Plymouth Whalers are looking to relocate their money-losing, Ontario Hockey League franchise.

I’d be interested in who these “multiple sources” are. A number of times these rumors are started and spread by the fans because they hear something out of context. Who is this person close to the team? Is it an intern? They would be close to the team, but not accurate with news concerning the team. Note I am not trying to throw the interns under the bus here, but it seems the most likely that an intern would be his source, unless he was making it up.

The Michigan-based Whalers have been playing out of Compuware Arena in Plymouth since 1997.

Actually the Whalers moved into Compuware Arena in 1996. 1997 is when they changed from the Detroit Whalers to the Plymouth Whalers, but who’s counting?

Founded by Peter Karmanos — who also owns the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League — the Plymouth franchise has been a part of the OHL since 1990 under other names, specifically Detroit Compuware Ambassadors, Detroit Jr. Red Wings and Detroit Whalers.

This part is true. Let’s also add in the fact that Karmanos is also involved with the Detroit Compuware Hockey organization which plays at Compuware Arena as well.

According to one source, the Whalers explored the possibility of moving from Plymouth to Perani Arena and Event Centre in Flint for the 2014-2015 season.

However, the Michigan Warriors of the North American Hockey League recently signed a one-year extension of their current lease to continue to play out of the Flint arena for the 2014-2015 campaign.

Here’s where it start not to make any sense. Let’s just assume that the Whalers were looking into moving and they were looking to move to Flint. The Perani Arena and Event Center holds 4,021 for hockey games, just 517 more seats than Compuware. While there would be an opportunity to sell more tickets, the venue is not that much bigger than the venue that the Whalers are currently in.

Secondly, if this was a serious inquiry, wouldn’t you think that the people in charge of The Perani Arena and Event Center would want a team that would be a better draw than the Michigan Warriors? Currently this season the Warriors are averaging 920 spectators per game. That’s down from last season’s average of 1,014. The season before that? An average of 669.

That is also not including the fact that the Saginaw Spirit might have something to say about another OHL team moving closer to them. The Spirit have advertising and season ticket holders in the mid-Michigan area. With the team averaging just under 3,700 in attendance the past two seasons, do you honestly think that they would be ok with a team moving into their territory?

If you look at it, Flint does not make sense as a “profitable” move for the Whalers franchise. Moving on…

Undaunted, the Plymouth organization is now said to be looking at the Southern Ontario area of Hamilton to move the Whalers.

Oh look, it’s the [Insert OHL franchise] to Hamilton rumor that has popped up every other year. The last team to be associated with this rumor was Erie. Seeing as they just renovated their arena and a better team, it looks like that time to start up these rumors with another team. Looks like this time it’s Plymouth’s turn.

This is where this article saw any sense of credibility lost. Peter Karmanos Jr. fought hard to get the OHL to expand in the United States, eventually leading to being granted a franchise in 1989. This is just in addition to the Detroit Compuware hockey organization that he helped co-found in the 1970′s. Karmanos, a 2013 US Hockey Hall of Fame inductee also received USA Hockey’s Distinguished Achievement Award in 2012, and in 1998 the NHL honored him with the Lester Patrick Award for his outstanding service to hockey in the United States.

Moving the team to a Canadian market does not sound like a move Karmanos would make.

Despite considerable success in Plymouth under coach-general manager Mike Vellucci — the team has won nine West Division titles and one OHL championship — the Whalers have routinely averaged crowds of less than 2,000 over the years.

If Mr. Russon did his research, he would have found that his statement about attendance is false.

  • 2013/14 - 2,478
  • 2012/13 – 2,850
  • 2011/12 – 2,657
  • 2010/11 – 2,730
  • 2009/10 – 2,685

Compuware Arena has 3,504 seats for hockey games. Using this number and comparing it to the average attendance, it means that the Whalers just topped 70% occupancy in the arena. If you use the number for seated and standing room (4,500), that percentage drops to 55%. Still no where close to the “less than 2,000 over the years”. In fact, only 8 home games this season were under 2,000.  There were 2 in the 2012-13 season and 6 in the 2011-12 season.

Yes, this season the attendance average dropped by 372 per game. However, I can honestly attribute that to mix of a very bad winter that lead to bad roads, and an underperforming team this year. It did not drop enough to spark a “We need to make a big change” moment.

After reading this article I contacted a few of my sources within the Whalers organization. I was met with the same response… Laughter. If there is any truth to these rumors, the people I talked to have not heard anything to move this from the crazy rumor bin.

Call this idea crazy, but Randy Russon is a person running a website. A website that publishes news and opinion articles that he writes.  What drives websites? Traffic. That is what advertisers pay for. What gets you traffic to your website? What better than an exclusive scoop on an OHL team moving?  I’m sure that his article has had a lot of views for his site in the past few days.

In an article also posted this past Sunday he posted an article in which he posted some opinions that he had. It’s his comment that he is “thankful and humbled with the advertising support that I have received to date.” For a site created this past December, I am glad he is doing well with his site.

In saying that, Mr. Russon, like any responsible person in the media, should check all of the facts of the story before they publish it. Clearly, research was not done in this case.

Currently all signs point to this being nothing more than a rumor. We have seen these rumors come and go in the past. Please remember, just because one part of the story is true, it does not mean that the entire story is true. A lot of the relocation stories that we see come out on the internet have to be taken with a grain of salt.

Image: GuelphStorm.com

This weekend we saw the top team in the OHL host our Plymouth Whalers. Plymouth came in knowing that they were the underdog. There were many predictions of a sweep, the Whalers are trying to give Guelph a run for their money.

GAME ONE: Plymouth 2 – Guelph 5
Whalers struck first blood in the series with a Carter Sandlak powerplay goal. Later in the period the Storm tie the game with a powerplay tally of their own. At the first intermission the score was tied, but the shots on goal stat (18-3) showed that the ice was tilted in favor of the Storm.

Then this happened…

What I said on Twitter at the time: 

I think that Rathgeb’s hit looks worse when it is slowed down. I think it was more of a mistimed hit. Had Fabbri not been held up by Ned, the hit would have been along the boards. This game moves fast.

I still hold by that statement. I have been trying to find a clip of the hit, but have been unable to find one.

And this happened….

Now the Whalers are down two players, not just for the rest of the game, but for at least the rest of this round. Rathgeb is out indefinitely pending review from the league. Sandlak is out a minimum of three games according to the OHL Media Notes.

Guelph was able to score a goal in the second period along with another two goals in the third to give them a 4-1 lead. Plymouth was able to pull Nedeljkovic for the extra man and pull the game within two with forty seconds remaining, but Guelph chipped home an empty netter and sealed the win for game one.

GAME TWO: Plymouth 0 – Guelph 3
Plymouth started the game missing both Sandlak and Rathgeb and after 3:25 of play in the first period, they ended up missing Ryan Hartman who was thrown out of the game for arguing with the refs.

Still, being down three players, the Wahlers still made it a close game. Storm goaltender, Justin Nichols, still had to make a number of key saves to keep the Whalers off the board.

After two games, we have seen great goaltending from Nedeljkovc, great shot blocking from the defense, frustration from the Whaler players, and some gritty hockey. As the series now shifts to Compuware Arena the Whalers need to settle down and stop taking stupid  penalties. That will be the key to possibly stealing one of these games.


That’s right, the playoffs are upon us and our Whalers are going to face the #1 Guelph Storm. We talk with Larry Mellott, the radio play-by-play voice of the Guelph Storm about the upcoming series.

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Plymouth is just a single point away from clinching a spot in the 2014 OHL Playoffs and could be in with as little as a overtime/shootout loss tonight in Niagara. If the Whalers cannot get it done tonight against the Ice Dogs, Kitchener might be able to help them out if the Rangers were to lose a game on Friday or Saturday.

Barring any abnormal circumstances, the Whalers are playoff bound. The biggest questions is who will the Whalers face in the first round. In order of probability:

  • Guelph Storm (80%)
    • Guelph leads the Western Conference and the OHL with 101 points.
  • Erie Otters (25%)
    • Erie is five points behind the Storm and still have five games to gain the edge on Guelph, but might take the third/fourth seed in playoffs.
  • London Knights (15%)
    • It’s still possible for the Knights to move up into first place, but they are three points behind Erie and eight points behind Guelph with six games remaining
  • Sault Ste. Marie (5%)
    • The Soo are the top of the West division, and need a two more points to clinch the division title. In order for the Whalers to take on Greyhounds the Whalers would have to move up to the 7th seed. Owen Sound will clinch the 7th seed if they get 4 more points.
  • Windsor Spitfires (0.01%)
    • You might think I’m crazy including the Spits, but if the Whalers can move up to 7th and the Spits win out, and the Greyhounds lose the rest of their games, Windsor could move to the top of the West Division. That being said, I don’t think that it is going to happen.

 

Eight Games Remaining; 10 Points To Go!

Posted: February 28, 2014 in Whalers

With the Whalers beating the Kitchener Rangers on Tuesday, Plymouth is on the right track for securing another visit to the playoffs. The Whalers are hosting the Barrie Colts who have lost their last two games. While the Rangers are in Saginaw trying to keep their playoff hopes alive against the Spirit.

The only thing in Plymouth’s control is the eight games they have left. Now that they don’t face the Rangers anymore this season, they need to not think about Kitchener, look forward and don’t stumble.

Episode 010 – John Vigilante

Posted: February 28, 2014 in Podcast, Whalers

Keith and Ken talk about the previous Whalers games including two matchups with Kitchener as Plymouth is trying to secure the eighth seed in the west.

Our guest this podcast is former Whalers captain John Vigilante. Find out what he has been up to since moving on from the Whalers.

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