By Éric Gélinas
Hi everyone. It has been a long time since I’ve made an entry, so I figured I would let everyone know what I’ve been up to.
January was a big month for me. I was selected by the Canadian League to be part of the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects game in Oshawa, Ont.
This was the biggest event of my hockey career so far. There were so many scouts at the skills competition and game. It was a real chance to improve my draft ranking, so the pressure was very high.
My brother and father drove in from Montreal to spend a few days in Oshawa to see and encourage me. I was really glad to have them with me. My brother was sick, but he dragged himself out of bed each day to come to see me at the rink. I spoke to my agent before the game and he told me to play simple, don’t try too hard and be physical, but most importantly, have fun.
The game was a lot of fun. Every guy was excited to be there, but we were also there on a mission to prove ourselves to a lot of NHL scouts that were in the crowd.
I didn’t talk to many players. Probably the person I spoke to the most was Dmitry Kulikov of the Drummondville Voltigeurs because he was my roommate. We are in the same division in the Quebec League, so we see each other eight times in a season. The QMJHL, Ontario League, and Western League guys all stayed with each other.
During the shootout at the skills competition I received a little recognition that I didn’t deserve. When it was my turn I told myself to try something that I would do during practice in Lewiston. Just before it was my turn, I heard the announcer say that I was shooting. I looked up and I saw Simon Després from the Saint John Sea Dogs shooting.
He used an incredible move to score and they gave me credit for it! It was corrected at the rink, but I think a lot of people who were there left the rink thinking that I made this incredible move, when in reality, I didn’t. My father told me that back in Montreal, the local TV showed some highlights of the skills competition and there, again, I was given credit for Simon’s move.
The actual game itself was incredible. There was so much electricity in the air. The people in Oshawa really love their Generals and that was obvious when Calvin de Haan was announced. But the biggest roar came when John Tavares of the London Knights was introduced. He has had so much success in his career over the past two years, winning two gold medals at the world juniors in 2008 and 2009 and being named MVP of the 2009 tournament. The roar was well deserved.
My team ended up losing 6-1 to Bobby Orr’s team.
After the game, my agent told me I played really well. I was happy and satisfied that I had done my best. I hope I left a strong impression with the scouts, but I can’t control that, right? Overall, it was a great experience. I got a few compliments from some people including QMJHL commissioner Gilles Courteau.
I had the chance to meet Bobby Orr and Don Cherry for a few minutes. Anytime you get to meet hockey legends like that it’s great, but being able to say you were coached by them is just a different level of cool.
The MAINEiacs have been in the news a lot lately. After the game on Jan. 31, we got word the team would be moving.
For me, it’s tough; I have mixed feelings about it. I was drafted to Lewiston in 2007. The MAINEiacs and this community showed confidence in me and I’ve learned so much these past two seasons, on and off the ice. I’ve become very comfortable with my billets, the fans and the community.
My billet family, the Labontes, have been really great with me; they opened their home and their hearts to me, took care of me and supported me. I really appreciate everything they have done for me. Lewiston is one of the very few places in the United States that has a strong passion for hockey similar to what you would find in Canada. The fans are incredible in here, and that will be tough to leave behind.
We also got a new coach recently. I was really sad to see coach Ed Harding leave because he really helped me learn this game and improve myself.
On the other hand, it’s really cool to be learning under someone like Don MacAdam. Coach MacAdam has been a part of so many organizations in hockey over the years, so this is a great opportunity for me to learn different things and be exposed to different ideas. He literally wrote the book on coaching hockey: Coaching Hockey for Dummies.
For the team, it’s a fresh start in the middle of the season. Hopefully we can finish strong with the new coach and give the fans in Lewiston one final wild playoff run. Can anyone say, ‘Cinderella story?’
Until next time. . .
A 6-foot-2, 190-pound defenseman, Éric Gélinas is in his second season with the Lewiston MAINEiacs of the Quebec Major Junior League after putting up three goals and 19 points in 54 games last season. The St-Jean-sur-Richelie, Que., native is eligible for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.