Here’s a look back at Canadian Hockey League alumni in the news and on social media throughout the month of August in Stanley Cup Playoff action and beyond.
Before the puck dropped to open Qualifying Round action, Matt Dumba (Portland Winterhawks) led the pre-game ceremonies with a powerful speech about the importance of racial justice and equality.
Dumba is among a group of nine former CHL players who represent the Hockey Diversity Alliance with a mission to eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey. He, along with Akim Aliu (Sudbury Wolves), Trevor Daley (Soo Greyhounds), Anthony Duclair (Quebec Remparts), Nazem Kadri (London Knights), Evander Kane (Vancouver Giants), Wayne Simmonds (Soo Greyhounds), Chris Stewart (Kingston Frontenacs), and Joel Ward (Owen Sound Attack) hope to change the face of the game and have their voices inspire the next generation of hockey players and fans.
While conversations about racism intensified in recent weeks, NHL players came together in solidarity opting to postpone two days of playoff competition in order to keep the focus on important social issues. Ryan Reaves (Brandon Wheat Kings) was among the players at the forefront sharing important messages about #BlackLivesMatter.
Outside the Hockey Diversity Alliance, players like P.K Subban (Belleville Bulls) spoke about the need for actions to follow society’s conversations to bring about real change.
Both Dumba and Subban’s leadership qualities on and off the ice in addition to their humanitarian contributions in the community have made them finalists for the NHL’s King Clancy Memorial Trophy.
August marked the first full month of the podcast, Soul On Ice, launched by CHL grads Elijah Roberts (Niagara IceDogs) and Akil Thomas (Peterborough Petes), broadcasting under the NHL’s digital umbrella. Among the recent guests was Pierre-Olivier Joseph (Drummondville Voltigeurs) speaking about the importance of being a role model.
Roberts was the feature of a recent NHL.com story about his hockey and broadcast aspirations.
Shifting focus back on the ice, August welcomed 368 former stars from across the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League back on the ice representing nearly 50% of all players across the 24 competing teams.
The players were split by conference competing in Edmonton and Toronto with the defending champion St. Louis Blues situated in the west where recent grad Robert Thomas (Hamilton Bulldogs) helped introduce fans to the unique way of life in the bubble.
Through the first month of post-season action under the return to play format, Nathan MacKinnon (Halifax Mooseheads) leads all players in scoring with 23 points produced across an impressive 13-game streak for the Colorado Avalanche.
Another impressive streak was performed by Carter Hart (Everett Silvertips) who posted back-to-back shutouts for the Philadelphia Flyers, including the first of his young career, in their first round series win over Montreal.
Two more unique firsts were achieved by a pair of our most recent alumni including Liam Foudy (London Knights) and Nick Robertson (Peterborough Petes) who scored their first career NHL goals when going head-to-head for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs respectively.
While fans rejoiced with the return of the game, feelings soon turned to sadness with the passing of Hockey Hall of Fame legend Dale Hawerchuk whose career in the league spanned two seasons as a member of the Cornwall Royals as a player and then much later as a coach for the Barrie Colts.
Fans from the Saginaw Spirit and Guelph Storm were also shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of former defenceman Adam Comrie who died in a fatal motorcycle accident at the age of 30.
A pair of former WHL defencemen officially called it quits on their careers last month including Dan Hamhuis (Prince George Cougars) after 1,148 NHL games. More than half of his professional tenure was spent in Nashville with two stints totaling eight seasons, plus an additional six in Vancouver and two in Dallas. The Smithers, B.C., native is also a current member of the Cougars ownership group.
Former Saskatoon Blades captain Mike Green also retired following 880 games played over 15 seasons with Washington, Detroit, and Edmonton. The Calgary, Alta., native totaled 501 career points including back-to-back seasons of more than 70 in 2008-09 and 2009-10 with the Capitals.
Another former WHL defenceman, Chris Phillips, was in the news with the announcement of his new role serving as Executive Director for the Ottawa Senators Community Foundation. The recently retired Calgarian spent all 17 of his NHL seasons in the nation’s capital and was the first overall pick from the Prince Albert Raiders in the 1996 NHL Draft.
One of the league’s newest graduates was rewarded for a strong 2019-20 season. Outgoing overage forward Felix Robert (Sherbrooke Phoenix) signed an American Hockey League contract with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins after finishing fourth in QMJHL scoring with 92 points in 46 games.
From one overage grad to the next, the fourth highest WHL scorer Zane Franklin (Kamloops Blazers) will suit up for the Allen Americans of the ECHL following a 91-campaign. His signing came just days before defenceman Nolan Kneen (Saskatoon Blades) also announced his move to the Lone Star state.
The Acadia Axeman announced the commitment of recent overage CHL graduate Hudson Wilson (Peterborough Petes) who will continue his hockey and academics in U SPORTS while taking advantage of his scholarship package.
And finally, weeks after the Kingston Frontenacs announced Paul McFarland would return to serve as the club’s head coach, the outgoing Toronto Maple Leafs assistant added general manager to his role. The 34-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., played four seasons between the Kitchener Rangers and Windsor Spitfires before attending Acadia and suiting up for the Axemen for another four seasons. He returned to the OHL as an assistant coach in Oshawa for two seasons before leading the Fronts for three seasons from 2014-17.