The stars of the Port Huron International Silver Stick Tournament are the players.
Those are the names we will comb through down the road and check to see how far they made it in their hockey careers. And based on past tournaments, there’s a very high likelihood that the NHL is in the future of some of them.
But if you look at the bottom of those rosters, at the coaches, you’re going to see some familiar names, as well. And if you really want to take the time, you’ll find that most of them have a HockeyDB.com page, as they’ve not only played the game, but have done it at a high level.
It’s a stark reminder, especially in AAA, that this is a high level of hockey we’re watching, and it’s quite a bit different than finding whatever parent you can to coach the team.
This weekend, five head coaches in the tournament are former NHL players, most recognizable among them — especially for us here in Michigan — being Kris Draper.
The former Red Wing coaches his son’s Little Caesars PeeWee AAA team. It’s a team we’ve written quite a bit about, as four Blue Water Area players are on it.
Draper played his entire NHL career, which spanned from 1993-2011 with the Wings, winning four Stanley Cups, and was a fan favorite as part of the “Grind Line” along with Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty.
Michael Peca, who won the Selke Trophy — awarded to the NHL’s best defensive forward — is coaching the Buffalo Jr. Sabres Bantam AAA team. There is a Trevor Peca who plays on the team. Michael Peca played five seasons in Buffalo as part of an NHL career that stretched from 1993-2009.
He was a part of two teams — the Sabres in 1999 and the Edmonton Oilers in 2006 — that lost in the Stanley Cup Final.
Jason Woolley is coaching the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies Bantam AAA team. Woolley played in the NHL from 1991-2004, including his final two seasons with the Red Wings.
Gino Cavallini played for the St. Louis Blues, Quebec Nordiques and the Calgary Flames, and is coaching the Chicago Mission PeeWee AAA team.
Chris Tamer had an NHL career that spanned from 1994-2004, playing with the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers and Atlanta Thrashers.
Of course Trevor Edwards may be one of the most familiar names among the coaches, as he played three seasons in Port Huron, and now calls the Blue Water Area home.
But there are also some established coaches on the benches.
Larry Pedrie is coaching the Bantam AAA Chicago Young Americans. Pedrie was the head coach at the University of Chicago-Illinois, and an assistant for three seasons at the University of Michigan.
Greg Bignell, coach of the Kitchner Jr. Rangers Bantam AAA team, was a head and assistant coach in the Ontario Hockey League.
So there’s a reason, beyond talent, that these kids look so sharp on the ice. The people leading them know what they’re doing.
Contact Paul Costanzo at (810) 989-6251 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PaulCostanzo.