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Dobson stunned to see NHL in his hometown

Saturday, 14.09.2013 / 2:14 PM / Feature
By Brian Compton  - Deputy Managing Editor

Winnipeg Jets director of pro scouting likes to return home to his native Stirling-Rawdon, Ontario, every summer. When his hometown entered itself into the 2012 Kraft Hockeyville competition, he couldn't believe his eyes.

"When I was there last year when they were going through the whole process, it was crazy," Dobson told NHL.com. "People had their yards decorated. It was really unbelievable. I drove through there one day going out to the Trent River just to check on my summer place out there and I'm going like, 'Holy mackerel, what is going on here?' I heard some rumors about Stirling working on the Kraft Hockeyville, but I had never really realized the extent and the effort that they put into it. It was incredible."

That hard work paid off in a big way. Stirling-Rawdon won the event, earning $100,000 in upgrades to the Stirling & District Recreation Centre, and the community now will host a preseason game in nearby Belleville on Saturday when the Jets and Washington Capitals will drop the puck on the NHL preseason (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, CBC).

"It's huge for the town," Dobson said. "I think it's a great concept, especially in small towns like that. Even kids playing there, to have that access to an NHL game and NHL players, it's a real special thing. We never had that growing up, and you don't have the idea of the League being in a small town like that."

Dobson, who won an all-Ontario title while playing for the Stirling Juveniles in 1976, remembers how the rabid hockey town was divided when it came to the NHL. The Ottawa Senators didn't exist then, so it boiled down to rooting for the Toronto Maple Leafs or Montreal Canadiens.

"When I grew up, we had an antenna and we got two TV stations," Dobson said. "We got Peterborough, and on some days we would get Kingston. ‘Hockey Night in Canada' on Saturday night, you were basically either a Toronto fan or a Montreal fan. That was before expansion in the early days and Ottawa didn't have a team. Little communities like Stirling, it was always they were half Toronto fans and half Montreal fans, and a few others sprinkled in. But those were the two teams and that's what you saw on Saturday nights. I was a Toronto fan. I don't know how that all took place, but that's the way our household went."

This Saturday night, Dobson will return to his hometown to witness something he never thought he'd be able to attend in his community -- a live NHL game. While in town, he'll undoubtedly reflect on his time as a youth hockey player and the memories created along the way.

"I spent all my minor hockey days in Stirling," Dobson said. "It's a tiny town, but it always had a great minor program there when I was growing up. They always had support from the region and they had a lot of really good people running it."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

Author: Brian Compton | NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

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2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
B. Wheeler 82 28 41 4 69
B. Little 82 23 41 8 64
D. Byfuglien 78 20 36 -20 56
A. Ladd 78 23 31 8 54
O. Jokinen 82 18 25 -8 43
M. Frolik 81 15 27 8 42
E. Kane 63 19 22 -7 41
M. Scheifele 63 13 21 9 34
T. Enstrom 82 10 20 -9 30
J. Trouba 65 10 19 4 29
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Montoya 13 8 3 .920 2.30
O. Pavelec 22 26 7 .901 3.01