Legendary hockey reporter and analyst Stan Fischler will write a weekly scrapbook for NHL.com this season. Fischler, known as "The Hockey Maven," will share his knowledge, humor and insight with readers each Wednesday.
Today, he looks at two of his favorite major junior teams and some of the best players to come from each.
The Ontario Hockey League's Sting, which evolved from the Cornwall Royals and Newmarket Royals, have produced a number of marquee NHL talents, including Hockey Hall of Famers Bill Smith and Dale Hawerchuk, as well as current Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos.
Here are some of the best players to come out of the Cornwall/Newmarket/Sarnia franchise:
Arguably (give or take Turk Broda or Patrick Roy) the best clutch goalie ever, Smith played with Cornwall in 1969-70, spent two seasons in the Los Angeles Kings organization and was taken by the New York Islanders in the 1972 Expansion Draft. Smith was in goal for all four of the Islanders' Stanley Cup championships from 1980-83, earning his spot in the Hall of Fame. He also has a largely forgotten distinction: He was the first goalie to be credited with scoring a goal in a regular-season game.
Video: Memories: Smith is first goalie credited with a goal
After three seasons in Cornwall and one in the minors, Murray stepped into the lineup with the Chicago Blackhawks and spent 15 seasons and 1,008 games on their blue line. Murray had a well-rounded game, finishing with 514 points (132 goals, 382 assists) and scoring as many as 19 goals in a season (1978-79).
Another product of Cornwall, Schneider was a key contributor to the Montreal Canadiens' 1993 Stanley Cup championship team. He played for 10 teams during 21 seasons in the NHL and had his best offensive season at age 36, finishing with 59 points (21 goals, 38 assists) with the Detroit Red Wings in 2005-06.
After piling up 183 points in his second season with Cornwall, Hawerchuk skated right into the NHL as an 18-year-old and won the Calder Trophy following a 45-goal, 103-point season with the Winnipeg Jets. He had six 100-point seasons with Winnipeg before moving on to the Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers. Hawerchuk retired in 1997 with 1,409 points (518 goals, 891 assists) in 1,188 games and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 201.
Gilmour's lack of size (5-feet-11, 177 pounds) didn't keep him from being one of the NHL's most ferocious players; he got his nickname, "Killer," from the drive, skills and brainwork that helped him earn a berth in the Hall of Fame. After a 177-point performance in his final season with Cornwall, Gilmour spent five seasons with the St. Louis Blues before being traded to the Calgary Flames in time to be part of their 1989 Stanley Cup-winning team. But had his best offensive seasons in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the early 1990s, scoring a team-record 127 points in 1992-93.
Stamkos scored 42 and 58 goals in two seasons with Sarnia before the Tampa Bay Lightning made him the No. 1 pick in the 2008 NHL Draft. He was a 51-goal scorer in his second NHL season, scored 60 in 2011-12 and had reached the 40-goal mark four times by age 25. Despite a broken leg and a knee injury that cost him most of two seasons, Stamkos is closing in on 400 NHL goals and is a big reason the Lightning are all but assured of winning the Presidents Trophy as the League's best regular-season team.
Video: TBL@CBJ: Stamkos nets Kucherov's feed for PPG
The defending Memorial Cup champions came to life in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League as the Rosemont National in 1969, then moved to Laval, Quebec, in 1971 and played there until moving to Bathurst, New Brunswick, in 1998. How do you top a franchise that numbers Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy and Patrice Bergeron among its alumni? You don't.
Here are some of the best players to come out of the Rosemont/Laval/Acadie-Bathurst franchise:
In the pre-butterfly era, smaller goalies like Sauve could thrive. After three seasons with Laval in the early 1970s, Sauve earned a regular role with the Buffalo Sabres and teamed with Don Edwards to win the Vezina Trophy (then given to the goalies on the team that allowed the fewest goals) in 1979-80, when he had the lowest goals-against average in the NHL. Sauve was a consistently reliable goaltender for four teams during 13 seasons in the NHL.
Lefebvre, who played three seasons with Laval, was like Sauve in that his value was centered in his reliability and longevity. He was a rock on defense for the Colorado Avalanche during their run to the Stanley Cup in 1996 and played 14 seasons in the NHL despite never scoring more than five goals or finishing with more than 23 points.
Brisebois and Lefebvre were teammates at Laval and for three seasons with the Canadiens before Montreal traded Lefebvre. The slick, puck-moving defenseman was part of Montreal's Cup-winning team in 1993 and spent 16 of his 18 NHL seasons with the Canadiens. Brisebois reached double figures in goals five time and finished with at least 30 points eight times.
Lemieux scored 84 and 133 goals in his final two seasons with Laval, then began making life miserable for NHL goalies. He scored on a breakaway during his first shift for the Pittsburgh Penguins after stripping the puck from future Hall of Famer Ray Bourque and went on to pile up some of the best offensive numbers this side of Wayne Gretzky. Lemieux sparked the Penguins to the Stanley Cup in 1991 and 1992, had 69 goals and 161 points in 1995-96 after sitting out the previous season for health reasons, and finished his NHL career with 1,723 points (690 goals, 1,033 assists) in 915 games. The Hockey News wrote that, "Lemieux is arguably the best pure offensive forward in NHL history."
Video: Memories: Lemieux scores 5 goals in 5 different ways
Bossy's four seasons of at least 70 goals with Laval weren't enough to get him picked in the 1977 NHL Draft until the New York Islanders chose him with the 15th pick. All Bossy did was set an NHL record for goals by a rookie with 53 in 1977-78 and score at least 50 in each of his first nine seasons while helping the Islanders win four consecutive Stanley Cup championships from 1980-83. A bad back helped end his run of 50-goal seasons and forced him to retire in 1987 after scoring 573 times in 10 seasons. Though he was overshadowed by players like Wayne Gretzky, the Hockey News called Bossy, "Among the top two or three goal scorers in the sport's history."
Bergeron spent just one full season with Acadie-Bathurst, finishing with 73 points (23 goals, 50 assists) in 70 games. But that was enough to attract the interest of the Boston Bruins, who selected him in the second round (No. 45) in the 2003 NHL Draft. He made the Bruins as an 18-year-old in 2003-04 and has grown into one of the best two-way centers in NHL history, winning the Selke Trophy as the League's best defensive forward four times. Bergeron has also had 10 seasons of at least 20 goals, scored his 300th NHL goal this season, helped the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and earned Olympic gold medals with Canada in 2010 and 2014.