(WINDSOR, ON) – The Square’s Ian Shalapata had a chance to sit down with Bob Boughner, president of the Windsor Spitfires, ahead of the 2017 Memorial Cup.
The Square: So, Bob, you’re back in town and the main focus of your return to the city at this point is the Memorial Cup that’s coming up. What are your thoughts on the Cup and Windsor hosting?
Bob Boughner: Excited, obviously. You know this has been a long-time coming. We planned it ten years ago when they built the arena. We always said we wanted to bring the Memorial Cup here and so, it’s a dream and to be able to come back and be a part of it is amazing.
I’m excited for a lot of things but, for the most part, the city to be able to witness it and also a chance for us to show our city off.
I think a lot of people from the hockey world will come in and they’re going to get a great experience. It’ll be wonderful. One of the best Memorial Cups.
TS: And there’s a lot of Alumni coming back. You were mentioning earlier with Dom (Papa) that Adam (Henrique) and DJ (Smith) and a whole host of others.
BB: We’ve got some of our current NHLers who are playing right now who are coming back, obviously Taylor Hall the Adam Henrique and guys like that.
A lot of the core from the 2008-09-09-10 Memorial Cup teams are coming back. And then, of course you know, some older alumni who are going to be here was well. So, we’re looking forward to it.
Probably got about 45-50 guys returning for that week and there’s going to be guys making puck drops, there’s going to be guys signing autographs, guys playing alumni games, and, you know, just coming back to support us. And they’re just as excited.
They are former Spitfires that keep coming back and they want to see us win at home, for the city and for our fans.
TS: Other than the on-ice events that are taking place, the games and so on, there’s a lot of off-ice as well.
BB: It starts next Thursday afternoon, the opening banquet, which be downtown at the St Clair Arts facility over-looking the water. And, the Cup arrival is going to come down the Detroit River and up Ouellette (Avenue).
The military is going to be heavily involved in that, obviously. That’s what the Memorial Cup’s all about, first and foremost before hockey. That’ll be cool.
And throughout the weeks we’ll have different sponsored functions that people can come to every night at the arena starting next Friday.
We have the Molson Hockey House which is live entertainment and live music playing every night. It’s on one of the auxiliary rinks at the WFCU Centre and people will not even know it’s an arena in there. It looks like a night club. That’s going to be fun.
We have the golf tournament at Beach Grove, we have the awards show at Caesars, so it’s a lot of things going on and it’s going to be a busy couple of weeks for everybody.
TS: The city has put a lot of money in to revamp, refurbish the arena. How are those activities coming along?
BB: If you go to WFCU (Arena) right now, it’s a nut show. There’s people putting signs up, there’s people redoing the ice, there’s people paving the parking lots, there’s new glass going in around the arena. Everything is getting done right now and the finishing touches are getting put on.
It’s exciting. There’s a lot of buzz going on around there right now.
TS: As a player, you’re a former player and coaching now, the Spitfires were out in the 1st round, but would you prefer to skate right up to the Cup or …
BB: You know, I think the one thing that you can never replace, no matter how hard you work in practice, is the timing. That’s going to be the biggest challenge for these guys; getting their timing back the first game.
These teams coming in have all played four rounds and gone deep into the playoffs. The one advantage is that these guys are going to be a little banged up, they’ll be tired, and they’ve played a lot of hockey.
Our advantages are that we’re at our rink, we know the bounces, we get to stay in our own dressing room, we’re not traveling and staying in hotels, so we gotta take all those advantages as best as we can.
At the end of the day, our guys have been working hard, they’re in great shape and are rested and are ready to go. And they’re pumped to play in front of our home town fans.
Hopefully we can get that timing and the execution down early in the 1st period in the 1st game next Friday.
TS: Which particular players should we watch for?
BB: On our team, Logan Stanley, who we missed in the playoffs, one of our best defensemen and a big presence for us, never played. He was out with a knee injury. He’ll be back.
He hasn’t played in three months, but he looks great on the ice now. I’m anxious to see how he plays.
I’m anxious to see how rested Gabe Vilardi and Logan Brown, who had some wrist issues all year. He’s had a chance in the last month now to let that all heal up.
And, Sergachev played so much hockey, with Logan Stanley being out, that he’s going to be able to now come back and not be over used.
So, a lot of things going on behind the scenes here, but I think our guys are ready.
TS: Vilardi’s moved up in the NHL draft rankings. That’s good for him.
BB: He’s earned it. He had a tough start with the knee injury and he worked through that got his game to where it needed to be.
You know he’s going to be a great NHLer for a long time.
I watched yesterday and I watched a ton of games. I don’t know if there’s anybody better below the tops of the circles when it comes to protecting pucks in the corner and making plays around the net.
He’s very, very gifted that way, so nice to see that.
Obviously Mikey DiPietro, our goalie. He’s one of the higher rated goalies in the CHL draft and the NHL draft, so that’s good for him, too, as well. He’s a confident kid and I think he’s going to have a long future as well.