By Darren Desaulniers, The Ottawa Citizen
Photo Credit: Errol McGihon/Ottawa Sun/QMI Agenc
OTTAWA — The Ottawa 67’s trimmed their roster to a more manageable 25 bodies following their first of two skates Saturday at the Fred Barrett Arena.
On Sunday, they’ll play baseball.
That will be part of the bonding process coach and general manager Chris Byrne, along with his staff, has put in place for the club that will play back-to-back games with the Gatineau Olympiques at the end of the week.
Saturday, though, was about letting some young men know that although they have talent, they are not quite ready for the rigours of the Ontario Hockey League.
“Nobody likes being cut or told bad news, but for the most part we have a good plan for guys that aren’t here and good follow up,” Byrne said
“For the most part it’s been positive, even when guys are not receiving the news that they want.”
Among those players not let go and who will be part of the 2012-13 team are the 67’s first four picks in this year’s entry draft, Dante Salituro, Jonathan Duchesne, Andrew Abou-Assaly and Nevin Guy. There were no veterans let go Saturday, either.
“Our first four picks all got signed and they played well and got their feet wet in our league at our training camp and showed well,” Byrne said.
“We had some good invite defencemen at camp that we thought played well. Some of the older guys had strong camps and came in in shape and we’re happy that our goaltending position was strong throughout the camp.“
One of the players who will be looked upon to fill a big role with the club is forward Sean Monahan, coming off a 78-point season last year as a 17-year-old and a successful Canada-Russia Challenge last month.
“A lot of guys stepped up to prove they want a spot, and I think we’re going to have a good team. And most of the guys seem like great guys and I think they’ll help us throughout the season,” Monahan said.
“I’m going to have to be one of the leaders, but we have a lot of veterans to help me with that, and I think we’re going to have a really fun season.”
Following their team bonding on the diamond Sunday, the 67’s will be back on the ice Monday in preparation for the exhibition schedule.
They will play the Olympiques on Friday night at the Smiths Falls Memorial Community Centre, and the teams will play again Saturday at the Rockland Community Arena.
“‘We’ll get ready this week for our back-to-back games with Gatineau,” Byrne said.
“It’s going to be fun. They’re a little bit ahead of us because they started earlier, but we’ll have this week to get some of our stuff in place. But it will be good competition right off the hop against them.”
On Sunday, Sept. 16, the 67’s take on the Kingston Frontenacs at the Brockville Memorial Centre.