Pop quiz. Name one player who has dealt with more on-ice disappointment than
Los Angeles Kings Manchester Monarchs Brandon Wheat Kings Saskatoon Blades forward Brayden Schenn.
Without doubt, Schenn is one of the most talented prospects in the game today. That said, the last 12 months have been hard on the former fifth overall pick from 2009.
The disappointment started in his hometown, as Schenn was part of the Team Canada squad that was upended by the Americans in the gold medal final at the 2010 World Junior Championship. The game, which was decided in overtime, ended Canada’s bid for six consecutive gold medals. Talking to him minutes after the final buzzer, the Saskatoon native was heartbroken.
But Schenn quickly refocused after returning to the Brandon Wheat Kings. The Wheat Kings, who were hosting the Memorial Cup five months later, were guaranteed an appearance at the event. Instead, the idea was to win their way in.
Unfortuntaely, the Calgary Hitmen had other plans. The Hitmen, en route to their second Western Hockey League championship, ousted the powerful Wheat Kings in five games.
Though the Wheat Kings were eliminated from the WHL playoffs, the club had to focus on staying sharp to battle the eventual WHL champion Hitmen, OHL champion Windsor Spitfires and the Moncton Wildcats, who claimed the QMJHL title.
Again, Schenn would suffer heartbreak on home ice as the Wheat Kings fell 9-1 in the final to an overwhelming Spitfires club that captured back-to-back Memorial Cup titles and officially ended the Canadian Hockey League season.
Fast forward to this season with the six-foot-one, 198-pound centre jumping from Brandon to Los Angeles of the NHL. At least, temporarily that is.
After getting eight games in with the NHL’s Kings, Schenn was a healthy scratch for five consecutive games before earning a conditioning stint with the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs. With seven points in seven games in the minors, Schenn was recalled.
Another game scratched at the Staples Center, Schenn’s NHL season came to an abrupt end in early December. A Wheat King once again was the fate for the club’s former co-captain.
With the demotion came a shot at redemption, though. Just days after returning to the Wheat Kings, Schenn was added to Canada’s selection camp for the 2011 World Junior Championship. The only returning forward available, Schenn would be counted on in a big way to lead Canada’s club.
And lead he did. Named an assistant captain, Schenn led the tournament in scoring with 18 points, tying Canada’s record for points in a single tournament set by Dale McCourt in 1977. He was named to the media’s all-star team and the IIHF directorate named him best forward and the tournament’s most valuable player.
The only thing Schenn didn’t win was gold. Canada, up 3-0 heading into the third period of the final, fell 5-3 to a spirited Russian squad.
A month removed from the loss still smarts for Schenn. In fact, he said it bothers him the more it is brought up.
But what doesn’t bother him is talking about another opportunity.
After the juniors, Schenn was dealt from a struggling Wheat Kings club to the Saskatoon Blades, who are currently ranked third in the CHL. A favourite to capture the WHL’s Eastern Conference crown, Schenn could find himself once again competing for the Memorial Cup.
And while there is a long way to go before whispering about a Memorial Cup radar, Canada’s Major Junior title may go a long way to easing the pain of a difficult 12 months.
Aaron Vickers is the managing editor of Future Considerations and can be found on Twitter. For all the latest Future Considerations news and posts, follow FC’s Official Twitter Feed, on YouTube and on Facebook!