Thursday, September 11, 2008

Not all that long ago

When you've been hounding for as long as I have, you often watch players grow up from fresh-faced rookies in the American Hockey League to earning a spot on an NHL roster.

Take Tampa Bay's Shane O'Brien, for example. We watched Popeye (a nickname we bestowed upon him for his animated skating style) play on many a Saturday night in Portland, Maine, when the Pirates were the top farm club for the Anaheim Ducks, the team that drafted O'Brien.

A rough-and-tumble guy, he was the heart and soul of a squad that took eventual Calder Cup champion Hershey to a Game 7 in the Eastern finals. Not only did he stick up for teammates and not back away from any scrap, but he also had a little offensive pop.

Good traits, I believe, for a defenseman.

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