Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League in association with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, and Home Hardware Stores Limited, today announced that the 2011 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game will take place at Air Canada Centre, home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, on Wednesday January 19, 2011.
“The Canadian Hockey League is very excited to bring the 2011 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game back to Toronto where the event first began in 1996,” said CHL President David Branch. “This is an exciting opportunity for the NHL’s future stars to display their talents on Air Canada Centre ice before a national television audience and in front of one of the largest crowds this game has ever seen, and our appreciation is extended to Brian Burke and the entire Toronto Maple Leafs organization for hosting this prestigious event.”
The 2011 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game will mark the 16th annual showcase of the CHL’s top-40 NHL draft eligible players featuring talent from the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The two-day event also features an exciting skills competition and three-on-three challenge taking place on Tuesday January 18, 2011.
“The CHL has a rich history of producing great NHL players and Toronto has been fortunate enough to have many of its alumni wear the Maple Leaf,” said Brian Burke, Toronto Maple Leafs president and general manager. “This will be a great opportunity to showcase the next generation of NHL stars and the Maple Leafs organization is thrilled to bring the 2011 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game to Air Canada Centre.”
The event returns to Toronto for the fifth time in 16 years and the first time since Air Canada Centre played host in 2000. Maple Leaf Gardens hosted the first three straight events beginning in 1996.
“On behalf of more than 1,070 Home Hardware Dealers across Canada, we look forward to returning to Air Canada Centre for the 2011 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game,” said Paul Straus, President and CEO of Home Hardware Stores Limited. “This will be our twelfth straight year as title partner of the event dating back to 2000 when it was hosted right here in Toronto, and we continue to enjoy the excitement that the players competing in this event bring to hockey fans across the country.”
Several Toronto Maple Leafs participated in this event before being selected by NHL clubs including defenceman Francois Beauchemin (1998), newly acquired forward Colby Armstrong (2001), team captain Dion Phaneuf (2003), and defenceman Luke Schenn who was selected fifth overall by the Leafs in 2008. 2009 Leafs first round pick Nazem Kadri of the London Knights also competed in the event hosted in Oshawa, ON, before being selected seventh overall. The Leafs first pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Brad Ross of the Portland Winterhawks, selected in the second round 43rd overall, played for the Team Cherry squad that emerged with a 4-2 win over Team Orr last season in Windsor, ON.
“Each year the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is a highly anticipated event that is circled on the calendars of all National Hockey League Scouts and General Managers,” said Director of NHL Central Scouting E.J McGuire. “This is the only event of its kind where the best NHL draft eligible players from across the CHL are assembled for on ice competition resulting in tremendous skill and intensity with the opportunity for players to perform before the eyes of all 30 NHL teams in attendance.”
In 16 years the game has featured nine players that were later selected with the first overall pick including Chris Phillips, Joe Thornton, Vincent Lecavalier, Rick Nash, Marc-Andre Fleury, Patrick Kane, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, and Taylor Hall.
In addition to Hall, 16 other players from the 2010 event were selected in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft including second overall pick Tyler Seguin, third overall pick Erik Gudbranson, fourth overall pick Ryan Johansen, and fifth overall pick Nino Niederreiter.
Associate sponsors for the event include Bank of Montreal, Subway, and CCM. The game will be broadcast nationally by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)