Defencemen Scott Stevens (left) and Dave Shaw
hockey in the Kitchener Rangers dressing room
conversations between Kitchener Rangers’ coach Joe Crozier and the National
hockey league generals managers are starting to sound like broken records.
Crozier said they go like this:
“Hi Joe, how are you?”
new these days?”
an awful lot.”
Joe, we’ve been having these discussions with our scouts. We were
wondering which of the two kids you like better.”
me put it this way. If I had an NHL team, I’d want both of them on
my club. Really, that’s about all I can say. They’re both going
to go in the first round (of the NHL draft this summer).”
Stevens and Dave Shaw, Rangers’ outstanding rookie defensemen, have had
pro scouts drooling – even slobbering – since the start of the Ontario
Hockey League season. Stevens, a Kitchener native, and Shaw, an Exeter
product, are two of the best rookie blueliners the OHL has seen in a long
lucky to have them both on our team,” said Crozier, who tonight leads the
Rangers into Windsor for the second game of the eight-point Emms Division
semifinal playoff. The Rangers dominated 4-1 in Tuesday’s opener
a six-foot, 200-pounder with a body-builder’s physique, was the Rangers
No. 1 draft last year off the Ranger B team. Shaw, slightly taller,
and leaner, was the No. 2 pick off the Stratford Cullitons.
Rangers went after defencemen in the early rounds to plug the gap left
by Joe McDonnell (now with the Vancouver Canucks) and Kerry Williston,
a couple of silky-smooth performers largely responsible for the Rangers
reaching the Memorial Cup final last. Stevens and Shaw have been
everything the Rangers had hoped for – and even more.
far as I’m concerned, neither of them has any glaring weaknesses,” Crozier
both strong skaters, they can both shoot the puck, they’re both aggressive
and they’re both great kids to work with. The only thing they’re
lacking is experience and they’ll get that as they go along.”
adjusted to the OHL quickly and in some opinions, was the Rangers most
consistent defencemen throughout the 68-game schedule. Shaw developed
more slowly, but Crozier said he’s “come along in leaps and bounds.”
always had it. He’s just gotten better and better. Dave didn’t
play aggressively at the start, but now he’s very physical – both of them
are. Earlier in the season I would have said Scott was the better
of the two. But now I don’t know. I’m sort of leaning toward
one just a little bit, but I wouldn’t want to say which one.
paired the two soft-spoken rookies together during training camp and they’ve
been together ever since. They were the only two Rangers to play
in all 68 games and both wound up with six goals, with Stevens getting
36 assists and Shaw 25.
played the two kids right from the start to give them confidence,” Crozier
said. “Both of them ended up playing in the all-star game (as late
additions) and both have done everything I’ve wanted. I’m very proud
think we complement each other really well,” Stevens said.
back each other up and play the same type of game. We clear the zone,
get the puck out and try to keep our goals-against down.”
for the often-asked question – which defencemen is better? - Stevens
laughed, then said diplomatically: “It’s hard to say.
As long as we both go high in the draft, we’ll both be happy.