Red Wings Cancel Prospects Tournament in Traverse City

Centre Ice Arena

There is some news circulating about a kind-of-a-big-deal contract negotiation between the NHL and the NHLPA.  The news is foreshadowing the NHL season not starting on time.  If the negotiations headlines have not emphasized the increasing possibility of a lockout, perhaps the news that the Detroit Red Wings canceling the Prospects Tournament solidifies it.

The Prospects Tournament is annually held in Traverse City, Michigan, showcasing the young talent in the system.  Eight teams that were scheduled to participate this year were the Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers and the St. Louis Blues.

“Due to the uncertainty surrounding the collective bargaining agreement and the advance commitments required from the various parties including hotels, airlines, teams, players and their families, etc. we have determined that it is in everyone’s best interest to cancel this year’s tournament,” Detroit Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland said in a released statement.  “The Red Wings and the seven other NHL teams that were scheduled to participate are committed to returning to Traverse City in 2013 and continuing with this tremendous tournament.”

For fans, it is unfortunate they will not be able to see quality hockey for a steal of a price.  Long time readers may remember I had an opportunity to go to the event in 2009 as a member of the press on behalf of Hockey World Blog.  It was amazing to see so many hockey icons, from Detroit Red Wing’s General Manager Ken Holland, Head Coach of the New York Rangers John Tortorella, and down-to-earth President of Hockey Operations for the St. Louis Blues John Davidson.  Davidson was one of many sitting shoulder to shoulder with fans watching the games.

There were of course more big names; one such that comes to mind was my brief chat with Hall of Famer Mark Messier.  I was down on the boards watching a game between the Minnesota Wild and another team.  Two men came up beside me talking, one asking, “How’s the game.”  As I glanced over, believing he was talking to his friend, I see Messier looking right at me.  “Not too many penalties,” I mumbled.  Needless to say, our conversation did not go much beyond that.  I was caught off guard with my mind not wokring in conjunction with my lips.  To this day, I have yet to meet someone with such a presence about himself.

It is sad news that the host, Detroit Red Wings, have had to cancel such an important event.  While fans will miss an opportunity to see the next big superstar before he is a superstar, young players will miss out on their opportunity to go pro.

“Columbus is close to home and they were really interested in me from Day 1,” Aleardi said.  “So I felt confident that they were really watching me and took notice of my game and what I do well and what I need to work on.  It was a good decision.  Hopefully they’ll be no lockout and we’ll be able to go to Traverse City,” OHL Plymouth Whalers’ Alex Aleardi speaking about the Columbus Blue Jackets scouting him.

As fans and as people, it is inevitable we think of ourselves first, missing out on watching the sport we love.  Unfortunately for Aleardi and many more young athletes, they could be missing out on their dreams that they have invested in so much.  It is reminders like this, that when we see highly paid Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin attending a meeting to show their support of the NHLPA, that regardless of who is right and wrong between the two bickering sides, that in the end, fans and young players lose.


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