Monday, October 27, 2008

Who Do We Blame For The Loss of Luke Schenn?

Before we start feeling sorry for ourselves over the loss of Luke Schenn to the Toronto Maple Leafs, let's not forget about what we had the priviledge of witnessing over the last three years.
We had a player who came to the Rockets as a wide eyed 15 year-old (he didn't turn 16 until early November), fresh off a midget season with the Saskatoon Contacts. This defensive defenseman that the Rockets selected in the 2004 WHL Bantam Draft was picked 20th overall that year, behind players like Colton Gilles (#2), Thomas Hickey (#3), Brandon Sutter (#6), Drayson Bowman (#8), Paul Postma (#12th) and Tysen Sexsmith (#14th). At #20, how good could this kid from Saskatoon be?
The answer - darn good!
In Kelowna we were able to witness Luke Schenn play 189 games over three seasons, a far cry in comparison to what other teams have had to indure over the years. How about the Prince Albert Raiders? Scott Hartnell was the Raiders first round bantam pick in 1997, and would eventually be selected in the first round of the NHL draft by Nashville in 2000. Hartnell played just 128 games in P-A before playing full time in the NHL. Scottie Upshall, a first round pick of the Predators in 2002 played 173 games with the Kamloops Blazers before being whisked away by the NHL. And most recently Peter Mueller, a first round pick of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2006, played just 103 games in Everett before playing full time as a 19 year-old at the NHL level. By comparison, we were spoiled to have Schenn around for 198 regular season games and an additional 19 in post season.
I can already hear Okanagan hockey fans blaming Leafs head coach Ron Wilson for making a poor decision in keeping Schenn rather than returning him back to major junior. But if we are taking that ridiculous mindset, why don't we make it even broader. We should blame Rockets director of player personnel Lorne Frey for making such an astute pick at the 20th spot back in 2004. What was he thinking? Why couldn't fate have seen the Rockets pick Randy Kerr instead? Let's blame Frey's hockey knowledge for selecting a player that would play just three short seasons in Kelowna. Ridiculous right?
Let's go a step further towards bizarre. Let's blame the Rockets organization for giving Schenn the environment to succeed. He was treated like a pro the first time he wore a Rockets uniform on September 23/05 against the Vancouver Giants. Let's blame Jeff Truitt, who guided the Rockets in the fall of 2005, for inserting the 16 year-old in the lineup 60 times in his rookie season. Had he played less, maybe his development would have been stunted? Let's blame the fans for cheering him on during his time in a Rockets uniform. The cheer of 'L-U-K-E' every time he made a good hit or a nice play only gave him confidence to excel at his position. Fans what were you thinking? The Kelowna media - me included - should be blamed for interviewing him over the last three years and giving him some confidence in handling the hard nosed media he now faces in Toronto.
You get my point?
Fingers shouldn't be pointed, but our hands should come together in celebration as we see another Kelowna Rockets player move on to the NHL. Schenn may have accomplished his goal quicker than a Scott Hannan, Josh Gorges or Shea Weber, but we've celebrated the Rockets alumni that have earned full time employment at the National Hockey League level in the past, why would Luke Schenn be any different?
Now we can say with pride that Luke Schenn is apart of that Kelowna Rockets graduating class. Let's just hope now that the Leafs handle Schenn as well as the Kelowna Rockets organization did.


Ryan said...

Not sure how I get how fans thinking Wilson made a poor decision is equal to blaming Frey for drafting Schenn. Are you trying to make a point? Why would anyone blame Frey for drafting Luke? Fans arent idiots Regan, they understand junior hockey and there have been guys like Keith and Kobasew who barely played one season, or Cumisky and Edler who left early. Everyone gets it and to write paragraphs about blaming scouts for only having a guy for 3 seasons is just plain stupid and no one would ever think that.

The reason fans may blame Wilson is that we have all seen Luke have stretches of games where he isnt noticeable, wasnt close to being the best guy on the ice and got beat pretty easily. Maybe we recall last yrs playoffs when he had one outstanding game and a bunch of weak ones.

Luke is no different than Edler, Keith, Chuck, Kyle and others who werent returned to the team. Thank God it wasnt Benn.

MG said...
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MG said...

Well said Regan. I am glad to see him adjust so well to the big league. I was worried that we could possibly have another Brule or Blackburn situation but that was my mistake. Schenn has such strong character that I suspect he will be just fine. It is a good day for the Rockets. Just think at how many other players will want to come play for us given our track record for development.....Moffet maybe ???

Regan Bartel said...

All I am saying is no ones to blame here. Why be bitter over today's announcement, which some fans are. The Leafs selected Schenn, and can do whatever they want with him. It's their wisdom that tells them to keep him up in the NHL rather than send him to junior.But Ron Wilson shouldn't be looked at as the 'bad guy'. He has a player that he see's as having a tremendous future, and Schenn's play fast-tracked him to the NHL. It's tongue in cheek when I make references to Frey, the fans and Jeff Truitt. Everyone contributed to his successes, and the Leafs should recognize that.

g.k said...

The reality is we have no one to blame but the Leafs for having such a weak defence going into the season, if Luke had of been drafted by any other team that had a decent defence he would be back here where he belongs so he can mature & be ready for the NHL, now he's just going to get mired in the muck they call Hog Town!!

Regan Bartel said...

I think one thing that hasn't been brought up is Schenn being a defensive defenseman. I am not saying being a defensive defenseman makes it easier to make the jump, but an offensive defenseman often times has more holes in his game...because while he is comfortable in the offensive zone he often times struggles in the defensive end. Schenn doesn't neeed to be impressive offensively as long as he has his act together at the other end of the ice, which he does. It's often the offensive-defenseman that are drafted that are brought along more slowly (see: Thomas Hickey). From my vantage point the defensive defenseman are often times more NHL ready.

caley said...

I remember getting tickets to a Rockets game back when Schenn was 15/16 and not being able to figure out why the Kelowna fans were booing him after a massive hit. After a couple seconds of listening, I realized the fans were not booing, but chanting "Luuuuuke! Luuuuuke!" That was the first indication I had that Kelowna had a special player on its hands.

I also remember, in early 2007, getting a chance to see Schenn and marvelling at how good he was, and going on hfboards that night and asking one of the experts on that year's draft why Schenn wasn't being considered for the draft at all. When the reply came that he wasn't eligible until 2008, my mind was blown. He was that good then.

Congrats, Luke! I'm glad we got to see you for as long and as much as we did. As much as I dislike the Maple Leafs, I wish you good luck.

Rocketwatcher said...

Regan that is easily one of your worst rants. Tongue in cheek is not your forte. Luke belongs there, not bored out of his skull back here. Get over it....Now it remains to be seen if Finley can develop the two rookies he has to work with. Luke was catching the eye of NHL scouts from day one. Trust me on that. So now Jeff has to really work with Gogol and Borejko to fill the void. Both kids will benefit from the minutes Luke was going to log. To continue to slag the back end is to criticize the very guy that drafted them ,Lorne Frey. So roll up your sleeves Jeff and start teaching . That's what you get paid for. Dressing kids and sitting them is easy. Mentoring them and providing quality ice time will pay dividends down the stretch. Sometimes I think these coaches forget what it was like to be a player.

Regan Bartel said...

I appreciate your support rocketwatcher. (:
I guess I won't see you in creative writing class? Opps...tongue in cheek again!!