By Andrew McGilligan
Name the players that had a role in the Saint John Sea Dogs epic three-year run in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, but played 16 and zero regular season games for the Port City squad?
If you answered Mathieu Gingras and Simon Giroux, congratulations you are correct and could be classified as obsessive.
A lot of time will be spent this season discussing the future of Jonathan Huberdeau, the Sea Dogs all-world forward. Instead of speculating on his future, let’s take a look back on how he arrived in Saint John, thanks, in part, to Gingras and Giroux.
After floundering in the first half of the 2008-09 season, one filled with high hopes for (remember the Our Team, Our Time slogan), Sea Dogs then GM Jacques Beaulieu was faced with the task of admitting it was a lost year and dealing his assets for a package of players and prospects. The biggest names on the block were team captain and face of the franchise Alex Grant and Chris Di Domenico, then suiting up for Team Canada at the World Junior tournament in Ottawa.
Beaulieu pulled the trigger on a deal that sent Di Do (as he was affectionately called at Harbour Station) to the Drummondville Voltigeurs. In return, Saint John got Giroux, Gingras, a first-round pick in 2009 and a second-round pick in 2010.
The second-rounder was eventually sent back to Drummondville in return for 20-year-old Mike Hoffman while the first-rounder turned into Huberdeau at the draft. Hoffman went on to be a QMJHL MVP, while Huberdeau has delighted fans at Harbour Station for the past three seasons and is the highest-drafted Sea Dog in history going third overall to the Florida Panthers in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Giroux was dealt to Baie-Comeau for a second-round pick in 2010. Gingras was dealt to Lewiston along with fifth-round pick in 2010 for pair of picks in the fourth and fifth rounds in 2010. Giroux never suited up for Saint John in the regular season while Gingras notched four points in 16 games. The second-rounder for Giroux and the fourth round pick acquired for Gingras were part of a package sent to PEI at the 2009-10 trade deadline for veteran netminder Marco Cousineau.
So for Di Domenico, the Sea Dogs got a combined 305 regular season points, 93 post-season points, two MVP awards, key cogs in three-straight Jean Rougeau trophies as the top regular season team, the best player on back-to-back President’s Cup titles, 2011 QMJHL playoff MVP and the MVP of the2011 Memorial Cup as well as Cousineau for half a season. A pretty good haul in return for one player.
It should be noted that Di Domenico was by no means a bust with the Voltigeurs. In 37 regular season games he registered 47 points and followed it up with 56 points in 29 post season contests. He did suffer a severe leg injury in his first playoff with the Voltigeurs which kept him out of the 2009 Memorial Cup and much of the 2009-10 season.
No matter what happens with Huberdeau this year, it’s probably safe to say he was part of the best deal in team history…..although I’m sure more than a few teams will try and get Sea Dogs head coach and general manager Mike Kelly to try and top it.
Photo: Marc Henwood/Station Nation