With the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) still roughly three months away from starting up, we tend to get our hockey fix by looking back at older times. Memories come flooding in and sometimes we wonder — whatever happened to the players from yesteryear?
We continue our four-part “Where Are They Now?” Series featuring the Windsor Spitfires. In part one, we looked at the 1990s and how players wound up everywhere from Russia to behind an OHL bench. For part two, we’ll head to the 2000s, an era that changed everything about the organization.
Join us as we look at four popular players and see what happened to them after they left the Spitfires.
Where Are They Now?
When you think of classic Spitfires, St. Louis-native Cam Janssen quickly comes to mind.
The Spitfires drafted the 6-foot, 215-pound winger in the third round of the 2000 OHL Draft. In his rookie season of 2001-02, he made sure fans knew his name right away. His pitbull tenacity, leadership, and overall character won fans over. Plus, despite being known for the physical side (nearly 750 career penalty minutes), he still chipped in 15-20 points a season.
How popular did he get? During one home opener, the PA system at the Windsor Arena failed during player intros. When Janssen was ready to be introduced, a fan behind the benches stood up and yelled, “FROM ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI. #17. CAM…JANSSEN!!” The fans roared and Janssen came out to join his teammates.
The party lasted until the 2004 Trade Deadline when the Spitfires traded him to the Guelph Storm for their championship run — the Storm won the OHL title that season.
So, what happened to Janssen after he left the OHL?
The New Jersey Devils’ fourth-round pick in 2002 jumped into the pros and never looked back. From 2002-14, he played in the Devils’ system in both the AHL and NHL, while also spending three seasons with his hometown St. Louis Blues.
In 2015-16, Janssen headed across the pond to play a season for the Nottingham Panthers (EIHL). At the end of the season, he called it a career and headed back to the States.
Now 36, Janssen is still heavily involved in the game, working media in the St. Louis area. You can routinely find him talking about Blues’ hockey on the radio while also showcasing his knowledge of the game on The Cam and Strick Podcast alongside Andy Strickland.
While the Spitfires had their fair share of grinders, they also had some off-the-radar offensive weapons. One of those was 6-foot-1, 190-pound winger Brad Snetsinger.
The Ajax-native joined the club in 2005-06 after one season with the Mississauga IceDogs and quickly showed he was going to contribute. After back-to-back 29-goal seasons, Snetsinger capped off his career in 2007-08 with 37 goals and 89 points in 68 games. He wasn’t a grinder by any stretch, but could defend himself or teammates if necessary.
Unfortunately, he went undrafted by the NHL. What happened to him?
From 2008-11, Snetsinger played in the ECHL and American Hockey League (AHL) for various organizations. While he had 100 points in 110 ECHL games, he couldn’t produce like that in the AHL. In 2011-12, he packed his bags and headed to Europe, where he’s been ever since.
Snetsinger played a season in Italy with HC Fassa of the Alps Hockey League before he went north to Germany.
There, he’s been playing for the third tier German league (with 10 games in the Netherlands thrown in during 2014-15). Over his career, Snetsinger has played for various teams including EC Kassel Huskies, Herner EV, and the current Selber Wolfe. He’s become a serious producer with over 600 points in just 300 games.
Here’s a clip from April 2019 where Snetsinger talks about playoffs with Herner EV and his time in Canada/US:
While getting to the NHL would have been nice for the now-33-year-old, he seems to be enjoying life in Germany.
Next, we go back to the start of the decade with a local player who was tough and determined. Acquired by the Spitfires from the Plymouth Whalers in 1998, defenceman Mark Ridout was an in-your-face, sandpaper guy who could chip in a few points. In 1999-00, he had 22 points on top of his 101 penalty minutes in 57 games. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Windsor-native was exactly the type that fans craved during his era.
In 2000-01, he spent six games with both the Texas Tornado (NAHL) and the IceDogs before returning to the Spitfires for his final stretch before graduation.
Whatever happened to this scrappy local guy?
After leaving the OHL, Ridout got into personal training, which led him back to the Spitfires. He joined the club as their strength and conditioning coach in 2006 before getting back on the ice with the St. Clair College Saints of the Major Hockey League for the 2006-07 season.
Since then, Ridout continues to work in the fitness and personal training industry, including running a studio in Windsor. However, in 2017, the ice came calling and he took the opportunity. Ridout joined the University of Windsor Lancers as an assistant coach from 2017-19. Following that, he made his return to the OHL by becoming an assistant/strength and conditioning coach for the Flint Firebirds.
Ridout’s return to the OHL is great for both him and the players. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience and, who knows, maybe he’ll return to the Spitfires one day.
Finally, we look at a speedy Spitfires’ forward who hasn’t let anything stop him. The Spitfires drafted Oldcastle-native Eric Wellwood in 2006, right after then-owners Warren Rychel, Bob Boughner, and Pete Dobrich bought the club from long-time owner Steve Riolo.
Wellwood was an intelligent winger who soaked in everything. From 2006-10, he became one of the league’s premier defensive forwards. His offence didn’t suffer, though, as he scored 102 points in 127 games during their 2009 and 2010 Memorial Cup championship seasons.
His two-way play earned him a selection by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2009. What happened after he left the OHL? From 2010-14, Wellwood spent time between the Flyers and their AHL-affiliate in Adirondack. Unfortunately, the future didn’t work out as he had hoped.
During an AHL playoff game in April 2013, Wellwood lost an edge at the boards while defending his zone. His left skate cut into his right leg and he suffered a horrific injury. While the Flyers and Spitfires helped all they could, a pro comeback wasn’t there. He was forced to retire. However, a new chapter was just starting.
While deciding his next move, Wellwood ran into former Spitfire D.J. Smith, who was the head coach of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. Just like that, he was back, as Smith’s assistant for 2014-15. The two guided their club to the 2015 Memorial Cup title.
That started a whirlwind three years that saw Wellwood go from the Generals to the Firebirds and then to the Lancers, each time as an assistant coach. In Oct. 2018, the final call came — the Firebirds wanted him as their new head coach.
Wellwood, 30, and Ridout now look to mould the Firebirds into a winner. After 16 wins in 2018-19, they soared to 40 wins last season before the COVID-19 shutdown.
Part 3 Coming Soon…
The 2000s was an integral part of the Spitfires’ history. It saw the end of the ground-and-pound era at the old Barn, but the beginning of glory. In Part Three, we’ll look at players from the 2010s as the team tries to build off of their 2009 and 2010 Memorial Cup championships.