Plymouth Whalers


Plymouth Whalers

Hockey team
team = Plymouth Whalers



city = Plymouth, Michigan
league = Ontario Hockey League
conference = Western
division = West
founded = 1990–1991
arena = Compuware Arena
colours = Navy blue, White, Green & Silver
coach = Greg Stefan
GM = Mike Vellucci
affiliates = [http://www.compuwareambassadors.com/ Compuware Ambassadors]
name1 = Detroit Compuware Ambassadors
dates1 = 1990-92
name2 = Detroit Junior Red Wings
dates2 = 1992-95
name3 = Detroit Whalers | dates3 = 1995-97
name4 = Plymouth Whalers
dates4 = 1997-Present
|
The Plymouth Whalers are a major junior ice hockey team in the Ontario Hockey League. They play out of Compuware Arena in Plymouth, Michigan, USA.

History

The Whalers can trace their roots back to the 1990-91 Detroit Compuware Ambassadors as an expansion team in the OHL. Since then the franchise has been the Detroit Junior Red Wings and the Detroit Whalers. In 1998 they were officially called the "Plymouth Whalers" after the local municipality gave generous tax breaks to the team and venue. The franchise has been owned by Peter Karmanos since its inception.

The Whalers have been part of the Compuware Hockey program since 1990, which also includes the Compuware Ambassadors minor hockey program and the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes, who were formerly the Hartford Whalers, the namesake of the Detroit Whalers. The Carolina Hurricanes tend to give preference to players from the Plymouth Whalers in the NHL Entry Draft, and coaches and executives are promoted from within the Compuware Hockey affiliation. Chad LaRose is the only player to have played at every level of Compuware hockey; Compuware AAA Ambassadors, Plymouth Whalers, Florida Everblades, Lowell Lock Monsters, and the Carolina Hurricanes.

Plymouth is one of only two teams to win 5 consecutive division titles (West division from 1999-2003, the other team being the Ottawa 67's (East division from 1996-2000). Plymouth has made the playoffs 17 consecutive seasons, since the 1991-92 season. The Whalers reached the OHL finals two consecutive seasons in 1999-2000, and 2000-2001, losing to the Barrie Colts and Ottawa 67's. These seasons included future NHLers David Legwand, Justin Williams, Robert Esche, and Stephen Weiss.

Celebrating their 10th Anniversary playing at the Compuware Arena during the 2005-06 season, all current Whalers players had been brought into the system by head coach and general manager Mike Vellucci. This created the build-up for the next year. Headed by overage captain John Vigilante, the team's rookies in 2003 and 2004 came to fruition in James Neal, Dan Collins, and Tommy Sestito. Vellucci acquired the Belleville Bulls' leading scorer Evan Brophey and the Toronto St. Michael's Majors goaltender Justin Peters, who had an extensive resume. On the last game of the season, the Whalers played the Saginaw Spirit, with the division title on the line, in what has been proven to be one of most exciting OHL games in recent history. With the Whalers' 2-0 lead going into the third period, the Spirit fought back and managed the tying goal just before time expired. However, Brophey scored in overtime to clinch the Whalers' 9th division title.

During the 2006-07 season, rookie goaltenders Jeremy Smith and Michal Neuvirth, combined for the lowest goals against average in the OHL, with only 173 goals against in total. The Whalers had a number of high prospects signed or drafted by NHL teams, including former Wayne Gretzky 99 Award winner Daniel Ryder, who was acquired, with him already having been signed with the Calgary Flames. After a very inconsistent start, the team improved to fall short of the London Knights by one point for the Hamilton Spectator Trophy. During the second half of the season and through the playoffs, the Whalers featured a 23 game winning streak at home, lasting three and a half months, falling at Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals to London. The Whalers, although seeded #2, easily won the Wayne Gretzky Trophy as Western Conference playoff champion, sweeping #7 Guelph, and winning in 5 against both #3 Kitchener and #1 London. In the final, the Whalers defeated the Sudbury Wolves in six games to win the J. Ross Robertson Cup, thus earning the right to represent the OHL in the 2007 Memorial Cup.

In the Memorial Cup, the team suffered a rough start, losing to the Vancouver Giants 4-3 in overtime on May 18, and again to the Medicine Hat Tigers 4-1 on May 21. Their fortunes would change, however, on May 22, when they would defeat the Lewiston MAINEiacs 2-1 in overtime, thus putting them in the tiebreaker game on May 24, in which they would defeat Lewiston again, 5-1, eliminating the MAINEiacs from the Memorial Cup and advancing to the semifinal. However, on May 25, the Whalers would lose again to the Vancouver Giants in the semifinal round, this time in dramatic fashion by a score of 1-8. This way, the Whalers finished the 2007 Memorial Cup in third place.

The 2007-08 Whalers dealt the goaltender that led them to their 2007 OHL Championship, Michal Neuvirth, early, to make room for Jeremy Smith to start. Neuvirth was among 12 players that left/were traded from that team, leaving the team looking to a number of young players for leadership. Chris Terry led the team in scoring and was helped by overage captain Andrew Fournier and up-and-comer AJ Jenks. In mid-December 2007, President and GM Mike Vellucci left his head coaching position for Greg Stefan. A late season injury to overage defenseman Wes Cunningham hampered the flow of the team, leading to an early playoff exit at the hands of the eventual OHL champions, the Kitchener Rangers.

Championships

The Plymouth Whalers have won seven divisional titles, five of them consecutively. Plymouth has also won three Hamilton Spectator trophies and reached the OHL Championship Finals three times, winning during the 2006-07 season.

J. Ross Robertson Cup
OHL Champion

*"1999-00" Finalists vs. Barrie Colts
*"2000-01" Finalists vs. Ottawa 67's
*"2006-07" Champions vs. Sudbury Wolves
Wayne Gretzky Trophy
Western Conference Playoff Champion

*"1999-00, 2000-01 & 2006-07"
Hamilton Spectator Trophy
Season Champion

*"1998-99" 51 wins, 4 ties, 106 pts
*"1999-00" 45 wins, 4 ties, 1 OTL, 95 pts
*"2001-02" 39 wins, 12 ties, 2 OTL, 92 pts

Bumbacco Trophy
West Division Champion

*"1998-99", "1999-00", "2000-01", "2001-02", "2002-03", "2005-06", "2006-07"

Coaches

*1995-01 Peter DeBoer (6 seasons) - DeBoer was promoted from assistant coach to bec0me coach & general manager of the Whalers organization in 1995. DeBoer was twice voted the OHL Coach of the Year, winning the Matt Leyden Trophy in the 1998-99 & 1999-00 seasons. DeBoer left to coach the Kitchener Rangers.
*2001-2007 Mike Vellucci (7 seasons) - Vellucci was promoted to President of the Plymouth Whalers in 2000 and was appointed the team's general manager and head coach in 2001. In 2007, Vellucci won the Matt Leyden Trophy as Ontario Hockey League Coach of the Year - the first American ever to win the award. Vellucci stepped down in the middle of the 2007-08 season to focus on his GM position.
*2007-present Greg Stefan (1st season) - Stefan began his coaching career in 1993 with the Detroit Junior Red Wings. He served as an assistant coach in Plymouth until 1998, and re-joined the Whalers as director of player development and assistant coach in 2003.

Rivals

Windsor Spitfires, London Knights, Sarnia Sting, Sudbury Wolves

Players

Pat Peake # 14 is the only number retired by the Whalers organization. Peake (who played in the Junior Red Wings era) was a two-season captain, the first MVP for the franchise in 1992-93, as well as Canadian Hockey League player of the year, and OHL Most Sportsmanlike player of the year.

Team captains


*1990-91 Paul Mitton
*1991 Mark Lawrence (traded)
*1991-93 Pat Peake
*1993-95 Jamie Allison
*1995-96 Bryan Berard
*1996-97 Mike Morrone
*1997-98 Andrew Taylor
*1998-00 Randy Fitzgerald

*2000-02 Jared Newman
*2002-03 Nate Kiser
*2003-04 James Wisniewski
*2004-05 Tim Sestito (home)
John Mitchell (away & playoffs)
*2005-06 John Vigilante
*2006-07 Steve Ward
*2007-08 Andrew Fournier

Award winners

*"1997-98" - David Legwand Canadian Hockey League Rookie of the Year, Emms Family Award OHL Rookie of the Year, Red Tilson Trophy Most Outstanding Player of the Year
*"1998-99" - Robert Holsinger & Rob Zepp Dave Pinkney Trophy Lowest Team GAA
*"1998-99" - Rob Zepp Canadian Hockey League Scholastic Player of the Year, Bobby Smith Trophy OHL Scholastic Player of the Year
*"1999-00" - Rob Zepp & Bill Ruggiero Dave Pinkney Trophy Lowest Team GAA
*"2000-01" - Rob Zepp & Paul Drew Dave Pinkney Trophy Lowest Team GAA
*"2001-02" - Jason Bacashihua & Paul Drew Dave Pinkney Trophy Lowest Team GAA
*"2001-02" - Jason Bacashihua F.W. 'Dinty' Moore Trophy Best Rookie GAA
*"2002-03" - Chad LaRose Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy Overage Player of the Year
*"2002-03" - Paul Drew & Jeff Weber Dave Pinkney Trophy Lowest Team GAA
*"2003-04" - James Wisniewski Canadian Hockey League Defenceman of the Year, Max Kaminsky Trophy OHL Defenceman of the Year
*"2006-07" - Michal Neuvirth & Jeremy Smith Dave Pinkney Trophy Lowest Team GAA
*"2006-07" - Michal Neuvirth F.W. 'Dinty' Moore Trophy Best Rookie GAA

Notable players

First round NHL Entry Draft picks

"Players who were drafted in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft while playing for the Whalers franchise."
*1991: Pat Peake, 14th Overall, Washington Capitals
*1993: Todd Harvey, 9th Overall, Dallas Stars
*1995: Bryan Berard, 1st Overall, Ottawa Senators
*1997: Paul Mara, 7th Overall, Tampa Bay Lightning
*1997: Jason Ward, 11th Overall, Montreal Canadiens
*1997: Nikos Tselios, 22nd Overall, Carolina Hurricanes
*1998: David Legwand, 2nd Overall, Nashville Predators
*2000: Justin Williams, 28th Overall, Philadelphia Flyers
*2001: Stephen Weiss, 4th Overall, Florida Panthers

econd round NHL Entry Draft picks

"Players who were drafted in the second round of the NHL Entry Draft while playing for the Whalers franchise."
*1993: Jamie Allison, 44th Overall, Calgary Flames
*1995: Nic Beaudoin, 51st Overall, Colorado Avalanche
*1997: Harold Druken, 36th Overall, Vancouver Canucks
*2000: Tomas Kurka, 32nd Overall, Carolina Hurricanes
*2000: Libor Ustrnul, 42nd Overall, Atlanta Thrashers
*2000: Kris Vernarsky, 51st Overall, Toronto Maple Leafs
*2003: David Liffiton, 63rd Overall, Colorado Avalanche
*2005: James Neal, 33rd Overall, Dallas Stars
*2007: Jeremy Smith, 54th Overall, Nashville Predators

NHL alumni

"List of Plymouth Whalers alumni who have played in the National Hockey League."


*Jamie Allison
*Yuri Babenko
*Jason Bacashihua
*Bryan Berard
*Jared Boll
*Jesse Boulerice
*Fred Brathwaite
*Kevin Brown
*Eric Cairns
*Gregory Campbell

*Harold Druken
*Robert Esche
*Todd Harvey
*Sean Haggerty
*Cole Jarrett
*Tomas Kurka
*Chad LaRose
*Mark Lawrence
*David Legwand
*David Liffiton

*Paul Mara
*Eric Manlow
*Mike Minard
*Pat Peake
*Keith Redmond
*Mike Rucinski
*Tom Sestito
*Karl Stewart
*Damian Surma

*Chris Thorburn
*Nikos Tselios
*Kris Vernarsky
*Jason Ward
*Stephen Weiss
*Justin Williams
*Chad Wiseman
*James Wisniewski
*Bob Wren

Current roster

Franchise records

"A complete list of team records can be found [http://www.plymouthwhalers.com/history.html here] ."

"Top active scorers"

Yearly results

Regular season


Playoffs

*1997-98 - Defeated Sarnia Sting 4 games to 1 in division quarter-finals.
Defeated Belleville Bulls 4 games to 2 in quarter-finals.
Lost to Guelph Storm 4 games to 0 in semi-finals.
*1998-99 - Defeated Windsor Spitfires 4 games to 0 in conference quarter-finals.
Lost to London Knights 4 games to 3 in conference semi-finals.
*1999-00 - Defeated Guelph Storm 4 games to 2 in conference quarter-finals.
Defeated Windsor Spitfires 4 games to 1 in conference semi-finals.
Defeated Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 4 game to 1 in conference finals.
Lost to Barrie Colts 4 games to 3 in finals.
*2000-01 - Defeated Sarnia Sting 4 games to 0 in conference quarter-finals.
Defeated Windsor Spitfires 4 games to 0 in conference semi-finals.
Defeated Erie Otters 4 game to 1 in conference finals.
Lost to Ottawa 67's 4 games to 2 in finals.
*2001-02 - Lost to London Knights 4 games to 2 in conference quarter-finals.
*2002-03 - Defeated Owen Sound Attack 4 games to 0 in conference quarter-finals.
Defeated London Knights 4 games to 3 in conference semi-finals.
Lost to Kitchener Rangers 4 games to 3 in conference finals.
*2003-04 - Defeated Kitchener Rangers 4 games to 1 in conference quarter-finals.
Lost to Guelph Storm 4 games to 0 in conference semi-finals.
*2004-05 - Lost to Owen Sound Attack 4 games to 0 in conference quarter-finals.
*2005-06 - Defeated Windsor Spitfires 4 games to 3 in conference quarter-finals.
Lost to Guelph Storm 4 games to 2 in conference semi-finals
*2006-07 - Defeated Guelph Storm 4 games to 0 in conference quarter-finals.
Defeated Kitchener Rangers 4 games to 1 in conference semi-finals.
Defeated London Knights 4 games to 1 in conference finals.
Defeated Sudbury Wolves 4 games to 2 in finals. OHL CHAMPIONS
Finished tied for third place in Memorial Cup round-robin.
Defeated Lewiston MAINEiacs in tiebreaker round.
Lost to Vancouver Giants in semi-finals.
*2007-08 - Lost to Kitchener Rangers 4 games to 0 in conference quarter-finals.

Uniforms and logos

The Whalers colours are navy blue, white, green and silver. The Whalers logo was created in 1995 after the Jr. Red Wings were renamed. The colours and logo were derived from the NHL's Hartford Whalers who were also owned by Peter Karmanos. The logo features an angry hockey stick-wielding whale, blowing a puck and spout of water out its blow hole. The name Whalers is superimposed on the image surround by a circle of green and blue with waves in the background.

The Whalers home and away jerseys are either white or navy blue background, with green & silver trim. The Whalers third jersey (inset, bottom right), derived from the original 1979-92 green away jersey of the NHL Whalers, is a green background with the word "Whalers" spelled out in silver letters diagonally across the chest, and has the Whalers primary logo as a shoulder patch.

Arena

Peter Karmanos arranged to build the Whalers a new home in Plymouth Township, Michigan as soon as the 1995-96 season ended. The Compuware Arena was constructed in 6 months time, ready for the 1996-97 season. The arena is located at 14900 Beck Rd. in Plymouth with a seating capacity of 3,807.

In addition to the NHL-sized rink, there is an Olympic sized rink also in the building. Compuware Arena is home to not only the Whalers, but also the Compuware Ambassadors, a series of major midget teams and lower, according to age.
* [http://www.compuwarearena.com/ Compuware Arena] Official web site
* [http://www.compuwareambassadors.com/ Compuware Ambassadors] Official web site
* [http://www.ohlarenaguide.com/whalers.htm Compuware Arena] The OHL Arena & Travel Guide

External links

* [http://www.plymouthwhalers.com/ Plymouth Whalers] Official web site
* [http://www.whalersboosters.com/ Plymouth Whalers Booster Club] Official web site
* [http://www.ontariohockeyleague.com/ Ontario Hockey League] Official web site
* [http://www.chl.ca/ Canadian Hockey League] Official web site


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