When one chapter ends, it is often followed by a new one.
That’s exactly what happened for the Sudbury Wolves on Dec. 9, 2010 when the much-anticipated John McFarland trade finally happened. The new chapter for the Wolves was the arrival of Michael Sgarbossa from the Saginaw Spirit.
Right from his first game in his new Sudbury uniform, it was obvious this kid had offensive flare. Five goals and two assists in his first four games, Sgarbossa had many fans at the Sudbury Arena saying John who?
If that wasn’t good enough, the 18-year-old forward, who is signed with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, finished this past weekend with 16 goals and 12 assists good for 28 points in 17 games — not far off a scoring pace of two points a game.
While Sgarbossa was having individual success, it wasn’t translating into team success as the Wolves went on to lose six of the first seven games with him in the line-up.
But things changed when Marcus Foligno returned from the World Hockey Championship. Sgarbossa seemed to gel with Mike Lomas on the top line, but when Foligno returned the chemistry between the three was undeniable.
They quickly became a dominant force every time they came on to the ice, and their work on the power play is the reason the Wolves now have one of the best power plays in the league.
I am sure Sgarbossa had to wonder “Why me?” when the trade was made, and I can’t say I blame him. Here is a pretty good hockey player, a member of the Barrie Colts last season with a legitimate chance for real playoff success, then traded to Saginaw, a team that was at least a year away.
This season, the Spirit get off to a great start, putting them in a good position to be one of the leaders in the Western Conference. However, many believed they were still a few players away from being the real deal.
Dec. 9 rolls around and Sgarbossa finds himself on the move again, this time to a Sudbury team that was underachieving and showing signs that the playoffs were anything but a sure thing.
There were rumours floating around that Sgarbossa wasn’t going to report to the Nickel City. I don’t know if that was true, but I wouldn’t be surprised. You only get so many chances at the Memorial Cup and you have to think that Sgarbossa has two strikes against him.
Whether he swings and misses for strike three or hits one out of the park here in Sudbury is yet to be seen.
What I have learned about Sgarbossa in his short time here is that this is one well-spoken and intelligent kid. We have all seen that intelligence carries over on to the ice, making him a force to be reckoned with. Add in Foligno and Lomas and you have one of the most explosive lines in the league — a line that has already shown they’re capable of going up against the league’s best.
When I look back and see what Sgarbossa has accomplished already, it only makes me wonder where the Wolves would be today if he had been here all season long.
Stew Kernan is the radio and television voice of the Sudbury Wolves, and the news director at EZ Rock and Q92. This column appears every other week in Northern Life.