NHL lockout gives Sea Dogs a boost with return of star player
Jonathan Huberdeau, one of the best junior hockey players in Canada, is unexpectedly back in the Sea Dogs’ lineup due to the NHL lockout.
Published Monday, September 17, 2012 7:32PM ADT
The NHL lockout has disappointed a lot of Maritime hockey fans, but that is not the case in one corner of the region.
There is reason to celebrate in Saint John where Jonathan Huberdeau, one of the best junior hockey players in Canada, is unexpectedly back in the Sea Dogs’ lineup.
“For sure, I would like to have my chance in the NHL,” says Huberdeau. “I worked hard this summer, but unfortunately there is a lockout. So, I’m going to work hard here and maybe the lockout won’t be all season so I’ll be able to go show what I can do up there.”
The Florida Panthers prospect led the Sea Dogs to a second consecutive Q-league championship last year.
“Anytime you get Jonathan back and staying with the Sea Dogs organization is a great thing,” says Sea Dogs President Wayne Long. “Is it going to be for a week? A month? The season? We don’t know.”
This is being called a rebuilding year for the Sea Dogs. The team is much younger and there are a lot of new faces, so the return of a veteran player is being welcomed by the team and fans alike.
“We’re lucky to have him for a few more games and hopefully the strike may go on. I’d rather see him than the NHL,” says one fan.
“He spends more time passing and setting up other people than he does trying to score himself,” says another. “He’s just a tremendous hockey player.”
The coaching staff says Huberdeau is easily the best player in the league.
“There’s the benefit of having a high end player for sure, but it’s better to have a high end person,” says head coach Mike Kelly. “He’ll be good for our young guys to learn from.”
Despite some injuries, Huberdeau has scored 73 goals and 177 points in two seasons with the Sea Dogs.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron