December 01, 2010

Then and Now: Catching Up with Jamie McGinn and Logan Couture

With the San Jose Sharks in town for their game against the Ottawa Senators, it seems like a good time to catch up with former 67’s captains and current Sharks players Jamie McGinn and Logan Couture.

Both players spent their entire 4 years in the OHL with the Ottawa 67’s. Jamie started in the 2004 – 05 season with Logan joining the following year.

During the 2005 NHL lockout, hockey-starved fans in Ottawa were getting their fix from watching the exciting and, in some minds, over-achieving Ottawa 67’s as they proceeded through the playoff rounds and swept the Peterborough Petes to win the Eastern Conference Championship and a berth in the Memorial Cup in London. For Jamie, this is his best memory as a 67’s, riding the excitement all the way to the Memorial Cup where the underdog 67’s put up a good fight. Remember that this was the year of the London Knights juggernaut and the Sydney Crosby show.  During this same time, Logan was being courted by the club and was in attendance for a few playoff games to show him and his family the quality of the club, the city and its hockey fans. No one could have predicted then how connected these two players would be through their OHL, AHL and NHL careers.

Wearing numbers 88 and 89 respectively, Jamie and Logan were top line, go-to guys, putting up points and as they matured, providing leadership to their team. Jamie played 276 regular season and playoff games, scoring 123 goals and adding 128 assists getting close to a point a game. Logan played 254 regular season and playoff games, putting up 120 goals and 195 assists.

Neither player has a favourite Killer story, both commenting that every now and again, they and other former 67’s (Derek Joslin is with the team, Brad Staubitz was with the team until moving on to Minnesota this season, Sharks GM Doug Wilson is a former 67’s) will sit around with other players telling Killer stories and laughing for hours. While the stories are fun to remember, both players also said that they remember Brian for much more than his stories. Brian was always there for the players, always wanting what was best for them and for winning. Jamie was clear in his regard for Brian, noting how much he helped him in his development and his career, especially choosing him as team captain.

For Logan, being with the club for Brian’s final year as the coach of the 67’s stands out for him.

Both players were drafted by the San Jose Sharks and have played for the farm team, the Worcester Sharks and both have made that long trip a few times between Worcester and San Jose, although Jamie is the hands-down winner in the frequent flyer category. The Sharks were so tight against the salary cap, they had to ship Jamie up and down several times just to stay within the cap. He was travelling so much, it warranted its own story.

As team mates they are also supporting each other in the transition from well-tended billets to self-sufficiency. In the cooking department, everyone takes turns cooking and each has their dish that they do well (salmon for Logan, chicken stir-fry for Jamie). With all the travel, home cooked meals are a treat, even if the menu isn't very long.

Also part of the transition from junior to professional hockey is learning how to play the game in all roles. "You start at the bottom and try and work your way up. You have to learn to deal with the different roles - the 4th line role, the third line role...". Jamie also notes that some things stay the same "It's all about work ethic, hunting down pucks, and just creating energy for the guys.". 

Photo courtesy of the San Jose Sharks
Through serendipity, despite having played 24 games in the NHL last year, Logan is still considered a rookie for Calder Cup purposes (one more game would have blown that chance) and he is in the hunt right now. And despite all that experience from last year, Logan still feels very much the rookie, picking up the pucks, hanging back to take later elevators, watching, listening and learning - all the conventional rookie behaviors. Every now and again he steps back and realizes how lucky he is to be playing a game he loves, playing in the best league in the world and with some of the best players in the world. This reflection anchors him when things are not going well and it would be easy to get too down.

Photo courtesy of the San Jose Sharks

Jamie is in a contract year and is trying to not think about it too much. He just wants to work hard, focus on helping the team win and making it hard for them to send him back to Worcester. So far, it appears to be working as he has been with the team since the start of the year.

Both players are really excited to return to Ottawa, not only to play but to catch up with old friends. Jamie is particularly looking forward to reuniting with his billets who took such good care of him. Cody Lindsay and Travis Gibbons are on Logan’s look-up list. And for both players, they will be a bit nervous going to Scotia Bank Place as the visiting team. But they expect to settle down and get to the business of winning hockey.

Jamie and Logan remember Ottawa as a terrific place to play hockey, where the fans were great and made it hard for the visiting teams and where the club helped them develop into professional hockey players on and off the ice.

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Many thanks to the San Jose Sharks for arranging the interviews with Jamie and Logan. Between time zone difference, practices and life, it took some patience for the schedules to align.

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