Canada's greatest hockey secret is the high quality of the sport being played at the Canadian Interunveristy Sport level. Every year, players who have spent their formative teenage years playing major junior hockey join the league on a full scholarship from the QMJHL, OHL, or WHL, and set themselves up for a career that may or may not include hockey. NHL scouts forget about the players, and without media coverage beyond campus newspapers, a lot of good players get forgotten about. Sure, a few fans of the players when they were playing major junior hockey are aware of where they are, but often they simply go about their business away from the spotlight and prepare for their post-hockey career.
But a few beat the odds and make it as a pro hockey player. And a few of them even make it to the show. Steve Rucchin, Randy Gregg, Paul MacLean, Cory Cross, Stu Grimson, and even Montreal radio personality and CBC commentator P.J. Stock is amongst this group. In the current NHL, three players with CIS backgrounds are currently playing: Flyers goon Jody Shelley, $3m two-way Capitals winger Joel Ward, and the Canadiens own McGill alum Mathieu Darche. Sometime Maple Leafs centre Darryl Boyce is also part of the current club, although he hasn't played a NHL game this season.
Now Frederic St. Denis, who was named the Hamilton Bulldogs' top defenseman in 2010-11, seems set to join this group. It took a lot of injuries/maladies for St. Denis to get the call, and there is the possibility that Hal Gill could still be well enough to play tonight and deny St. Denis his debut, but from the looks of things the Canadiens will be forced to play their #11 d-man on the depth chart tonight (assuming injured farmhand Brendon Nash is #10). And if this list from the Copper And Blue's Derek Zona is complete, St. Denis will also be the first former player from the
Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières to make it to the NHL. Go UQTR Patriotes!
After the jump are St. Denis' career numbers:
And, just as a summary, here is what it took for St. Denis to get the call:
|11||Frederic St- Denis||Active|
I'm not sure on the status of Stafford, who may have been ahead of St. Denis as a callup, but he was injured in Sunday's AHL game against Binghamton. Hamilton's defence last night included only four players signed to contract by the Canadiens: Joe Callahan, Mark Mitera, Alex Henry, and Joe Stejskal. The severely depleted Bulldogs lost at home last night to Peoria, 3-2 in a shootout.