I return to report my findings from the Family Day clash between the Toronto Marlies and your Abbotsford Heat.
First things first: Abbotsford was ably coached by Jimmy Playfair, who appeared to be aiming to put his Canaryshirt days behind him with a contemporary blue-shirt-with-striped-tie outfit. He's rocking the assistant-coach goatee, and is still rail thin.
Now, onto the players. Guys who stood out, for right or wrong reasons:
Mikael Backlund: Dangerous on about 75% of his shifts, and showed a great ability to anticipate the play and get himself in dangerous areas, Iginla-style. He still seems small to me, but was the best Heat player by a country mile.
Jason Jaffray: Consistent, hard-working … just unspectacular, which is the only reason he doesn't stick in the NHL. Still, a perfect call-up guy.
David Shantz: In texts after the game, WI asked if he was better than Backelhinney. I replied, "well, more controlled," which he was. While McE often seems unaware of his position in relation to the crease, Shantz was the opposite, and made a couple of nice reaction saves against admittedly second-level competition. The Marlies had Christian Hanson, Viktor Stalberg, and what appeared to be the Ajax Bantam Rep Squad filling out the roster.
Olivier Latendresse: I called him "not Guillaume" until Googling his name midway through the second period, but the Victoria Salmon Kings loaner had a nice pair of hands, displayed on a pair of goals.
Gord Baldwin: Seemed slow, lost puck battles along the boards, still needs tuning. In fairness, lack of anyone else of note on the blueline probably has him out of sorts, but that should be a big opportunity for him.
Staffan Kronwall: Man, he's tall. And he plays a lot. But with his experience, should probably dominate on the blue-line in games like this, and that didn't happen.
Between Periods Human Bowling: The perky coed who hosted the occasion admitted they "hadn't tired it before," and it showed, as the ice crew failed to stretch the bungee far enough to get mascot Duke the Dog and Competitor No. 2 to the pins. Competitor No. 1 was declared victor after slowly sliding into one pin. Apparently, the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment folks' ineptitude reaches even these levels.
My Game Later in the Day on the Same Ice: Purely by coincidence, my Division C beer league game with my team, the Sharks, was played on the same ice later in the evening. We were handed the visitor dressing room, which had two showers and a 1990s-era TV on which we watched speed skating. Alas, the room didn't bring the Heat's winning feeling, as a late goal sunk our team and I missed an opportunity to tie it with a backhand over the crossbar with less than two minutes to go.
Should have asked Canaryshirt to stick around behind the bench.