When we watch the Prince Edward Island Rockets of the QMJHL then a must read for us is Charles Reid who writes for The Guardian on Prince Edward Island. We like reading Charles Reid because if you wanted a clear objective read on a game then look no further.
If we are unsure about if one of the Ranger prospects played well or not then we check his coverage. There is no homer in his reporting as if the team plays bad then we will read about the how, why and where in the game.
Because of that we turned to him to try to get a better look at Chris Doyle and as we have grown used when with Charles we got more than expected.
Prospect Park: Most NHL fans know very little about the Prince Edward Island Rocket so would you get us started by some background about the team and it's history? The Rocket have produced some pretty good NHL players in their time have they not?
Charles Reid: The Rocket began in Montreal in 1999. Serge Savard Jr., the son of Montreal Canadiens defencsman Serge Savard, wanted to bring junior hockey back to the city. It had several junior teams over the history of the QMJHL, but none could stick. Montreal has almost 2 million people, many with other things on their minds than junior hockey. Plus the Canadiens occupy much of the sports media and talk radio so major junior doesn't get much attention.
In this environment and playing in nearly empty buildings (Maurice Richard arena, the Bell Centre), the Savard family moved the club to Charlottetown in 2003 and re-named it the P.E.I. Rocket. Gate receipts have been a little better in P.E.I., but attendance has dropped from about 3,400 per game in 2004 to around 2,300 per game last season.
In seven playoff appearances overall, the Rocket have reached the second round of the playoffs just once (2003-04). The club's alumni in the NHL full-time include Maxim Lapierre of the Montreal Canadiens and Pascal Leclaire of the Columbus Blue Jackets, but several current and former players are in the systems of various NHL teams.
PP: Can you tell us about Charlottetown, what kind of place is it and what is it like to live there?
CR: Charlottetown is a small, quiet Canadian city of about 33,000 people. It's the largest city on P.E.I. and the provincial capital. It's home to white-collar and blue-collar jobs, IT work and government positions and great restaurants. In short it's a city with everything most cities have, just in smaller amounts.
And depending on who you talk to, it's also hockey mad (but that could be said for the province). P.E.I. has popped out several NHLers including Dallas Stars forward Brad Richards, who's from Murray Harbour about a 45 minutes drive east from Charlottetown, and (going back a few years) Bobby MacMillan, a former St. Louis Blues and Atlanta Hawks standout in the 1970s and early 80s. His son, Logan, was a first round draft pick of Anaheim in 2007.
Many towns on P.E.I. boast rinks even if the population doesn't warrant an ice surface. In fact, province-wide four new ice surfaces have opened in the last four years and are booked throughout the winter.
Charlottetown had a junior A team, the Charlottetown Abbies, but it suspended operations for 2008-09 because of financial difficulties. But that banner is carried now by the Summerside Western Capitals, the Island's other junior A squad.
PP: What can you tell us about Chris Doyle the person that you have gotten to know? Is he a leader in the locker room, is he a quiet kid or does he take charge?
CR: Doyle is in general a quiet kid. He wasn't a great interview early in his career when the Rocket drafted him fourth overall in 2006, but now he's more relaxed. He is always accommodating for interviews and can be quick with a joke, particularly if a teammate is being interviewed as he walks past. Doyle is careful of what he says, but most players are media savvy and stay away from saying anything too controversial.
As far as a leader goes, he hasn't had to be one. In his first season the captain was David Laliberte and Doyle was just getting his feet (or skates) . Last season the Rocket had a rotating C reserved for three older players and Chris's role was strictly a first-line scorer.
His role this year is difficult to pin down as the Rocket have several 20s and a couple of 19-year-olds registered for training camp and how that will play out won't be known until likely mid-September. Doyle's best friend on the Rocket is defenceman Jordon Southorn. He was a fourth round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in June and was P.E.I.'s second first round pick in 2006. Southorn is in many ways a polar opposite. He's outgoing and has been comfortable with the media since day one.
PP: You have gotten to see Doyle's play for a while so what kind of player are the Rangers getting right now?
CR: As far as his major junior play goes, Doyle is hard-nosed, aggressive, unafraid to attack the corners and throw his body around, and will drop the gloves. Search Youtube for a fight between Doyle and Logan MacMillan. It was one of the best of the year especially for two guys that don't scrap!
He will backcheck consistently and has decent speed. He bulked up for 2007-08 and it slowed him down early in the year, but by mid-season the speed had returned. He's intense in practice. Also watch his setup moves for linemates. Doyle can consistently get the puck out front even with defenders draped on him. One of the Rocket problems last year was getting someone to the net to receive the passes. He's got a massive slapshot, but it needs to be more accurate and he has to launch it quicker so goalies don't have as much time to prepare.
PP: Doyle was at one time was heading toward a high draft pick but wound up dropping to the 5th round so what in your opinion caused his stock to fall like it did?
CR: Well, to be fair Doyle was only rated as a late third rounder among North American skaters in Central Scouting's mid-season listings in January, so he never was really headed toward a high pick anyway. Throw in the Europeans and things change. And dropping, like some scouts say, often has more to with teams needs than a player's ability or personality.
I think Doyle's fall was simply that. Right now, he's a forward with talents interchangeable with many other forwards so a team looking his way could likely wait and get him in the later rounds while filling holes with earlier picks.
To illustrate my point, below there's a factbox I put together of some NHL draft busts and bargains.
Top 10 draft-day busts and bargains
10. Neil Brady, centre, New Jersey Devils, third overall, 1986. Nine goals and 31 points in 89 NHL games. Picked ahead of Vincent Damphousse (sixth), Brian Leetch (ninth), Craig Janney (13th), Adam Graves (22nd) and Teppo Numminen (29th).
9. Dave Czyzowski, left wing, New York Islanders, second overall, 1989. Fifteen goals and 31 points in 126 NHL games. Picked behind Mats Sundin. Picked ahead of Stu Barnes (fourth), Bill Guerin (fifth), Bobby Holik (10th), Mike Sillinger (11th) and Olaf Kolzig (19th).
8. Daniel Dore, right wing, Quebec Nordiques, fifth overall, 1988. Two goals and five points in 17 NHL games. Picked ahead of Martin Gelinas (seventh), Jeremy Roenick (eighth), Rod Brind'Amour (ninth) and Teemu Selanne (10th).
7. Steve Kelly, centre, Edmonton Oilers, sixth overall, 1995. Nine goals and 21 points in 147 NHL games. Picked ahead of Shane Doan (seventh), Jarome Iginla (12th) and Jean-Sebastien Giguere (13th).
6. Alex Stojanov, left wing, Vancouver Canucks, seventh overall, 1991. Two goals, seven points and 222 penalty minutes in 107 games. Picked ahead of Martin Lapointe (10th), Brian Rolston (11th), Phillipe Boucher (13th), Alexei Kovalev (15th), Markus Naslund (16th), Glen Murray (18th) and Ray Whitney (23rd).
5. Scott Scissons, centre, New York Islanders, sixth overall, 1990. No points in two NHL games. Picked ahead of Darryl Sydor (seventh), Derian Hatcher (eighth), Keith Tkachuk (19th) and Martin Brodeur (20th).
4. Jason Bonsignore, centre, Edmonton Oilers, fourth overall, 1994. Three goals and 16 points in 79 NHL games. Picked ahead of Jeff O'Neill (fifth) and Mattias Ohlund (12th).
3. Glen Williams, centre, Detroit Red Wings, fourth overall, 1976. Two goals and seven points in 44 NHL games. Picked ahead of Bernie Federko (seventh).
2. Brian Lawton, left wing, Minnesota North Stars, first overall, 1983. One hundred twelve goals and 266 points in 483 games. Picked ahead of Pat LaFontaine (third) and Steve Yzerman (fourth).
1. Alexandre Daigle, centre, Ottawa Senators, first overall, 1993. One hundred twenty-nine goals and 327 points in 616 NHL games. Picked ahead of Paul Kariya (fourth), Rob Niedermayer (fifth), Jason Arnott (seventh), Saku Koivu (22nd), Todd Bertuzzi (23rd), Brendan Morrison (39th) and Bryan McCabe (40th).
10. Pavol Demitra, centre, Ottawa Senators, 227th overall, 1993, 291 goals and 699 points in 750 games with Ottawa, St. Louis, Los Angeles and Minnesota.
9. Daniel Alfredsson, right wing, Ottawa Senators, 133rd overall, 1994, 331 goals and 847 points in 853 games with Ottawa.
8. Nikolai Khabibulin, goaltender, Winnipeg Jets, 204th overall, 1992, 274-259 with 75 ties and a 2.69 GAA in 636 games with Winnipeg, Phoenix, Tampa Bay and Chicago.
7. Gary Suter, defenceman Calgary Flames, 180th overall, 1984, 203 goals and 845 points in 1,145 games with Calgary, Chicago and San Jose.
6. Steve Larmer, right wing, Chicago Blackhawks, 120th overall, 1980, 441 goals and 1,012 points in 1,006 games with Chicago and the New York Rangers.
5. Dave Taylor, right wing, Los Angeles Kings, 210th overall, 1975, 431 goals and 1,069 points in 1,111 games with Los Angeles.
4. Theoren Fleury, right wing, Calgary Flames, 166th overall, 1987, 455 goals and 1,088 points in 1,084 games with Calgary, Colorado, New York Rangers and Chicago.
3. Doug Gilmour, centre, St. Louis Blues, 134th overall, 1982, 450 goals and 1,414 points in 1,474 games with St. Louis, Calgary, Toronto, New Jersey, Chicago, Buffalo and Montreal.
2. Dominik Hasek, goaltender, Chicago Blackhawks, 207th overall, 1983, 389-223 with 95 ties and a 2.20 GAA in 735 games with Chicago, Buffalo, Ottawa and Detroit.
1. Luc Robitaille, left wing, Los Angeles Kings, 171st overall, 1984, 668 goals and 1,394 points in 1,431 games with Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, New York Rangers and Detroit.
( source: www.slam.canoe.ca.)
PP: What will Ranger fans like the most about Chris Doyle if he makes it to the Rangers?
CR: This is hard to measure. Not to be flippant, but I don't hang out with Rangers fans simply because there aren't many on P.E.I. and the one follower I do know has no opinion on Doyle. Most of the NHL love is saved for the Canadian teams or Dallas (thanks to Richards). Doyle won't make the Rangers this year, I think that's the only certainty. At this age players change so much from year to year, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, so if he does reach the roster some year, he will likely be a very different person than he is now.
PP: Is there anything else that you would like to add about Doyle and the Rocket?
CR: Nothing I haven't already spilled.
See what we mean about why we think so much of Charles Reid as a writer as we said we got more than we asked for.
Our HUGE thanks to Charles Reid for helping us get some more information on Chris Doyle along with the Prince Edward Island Rocket and we look very forward to reading his game coverage of Chris Doyle and the rest of the QMJHL in the Guardian
(Chris Doyle picture courtesy of the NHL CSB)
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