Spirits were high for Windsor Spitfires’ forward Jeremiah Addison when the Ontario Hockey League playoffs started. The 20-year-old signed his first entry-level contract with the Montreal Canadiens on Friday ahead of Game 1 against the London Knights. Things were looking good.
But for Addison – and his Spitfires teammates – that feeling didn’t last very long. For the newly signed Canadiens prospect, it looks like it got worse before it could get any better.
Bienvenue À Montréal
It took Addison a long time before he found out where he was going in the 2015 NHL Draft. In fact, it was 206 picks before the Brampton native realized that his next step in hockey would include the Montreal Canadiens.
But with the 207th overall pick in 2015, the Habs scooped up the current Spitfire forward and made him a part of the future for the storied NHL organization. Still, he remained without a contract when it came to the big club.
That changed on Friday when the Canadiens signed Addison to a three-year entry-level contract that kicks in at the start of the 2017-18 season. The contract carries and NHL cap hit of $720,000 per season, but his actual salary can differ depending on where he plays (NHL or AHL), according to Cap Friendly.
For any young player, that first NHL contract is a huge step towards reaching the ultimate dream. For Addison, it was likely no different. Yet the 20-year-old and his OHL club still had business to attend to in London and it started with Game 1 only hours after he signed with the Canadiens.
Proving His Worth
During the regular season, Addison finished with 24 goals and 43 points in 51 games for the Spitfires. He amassed 62 penalty minutes and does play the game with an edge – often getting under the skin of his opponents.
That didn’t change any – especially with their playoffs starting against the rival Knights. But rather than trying to entice his opponents into taking penalties in Game 1, Addison used his energy from the day’s events to rally his troops on the offensive side.
After the Knights took the lead in the first, Addison came out strong in the second frame. He tallied an early goal to get back to even. While the Knights and Spitfires went back and forth all game, Addison remained a major standout for Windsor. He tallied five shots over the game and added a couple minutes in the sin bin, but when it came to putting the team on his back, he was ready.
At 15:06 of the first overtime, Gabriel Vilardi won the face-off back to Addison. He rifled the shot past Tyler Parsons for the winning goal and the Spitfires took a one-game lead in the first-round series with London – ultimately stealing home-ice advantage.
But the story darkens a bit from there for the young forward and it didn’t take long into Game 2 for that to happen.
Five and a Game… or Three?
The second game of the series on Sunday was much tougher. A lot of bodies were flying around. Fights dominated the first period. Tensions were ruling the on-ice activities and players were getting frustrated.
After Julius Nattinen got his stick up on the Knights’ Cliff Pu, Max Jones came in to have chat with the Spitfires forward. Addison took exception and flew in with his stick raised and ready. He cross checked the big London forward and broke his stick in the process.
Jeremiah Addison just lost his mind. Got 5 + game for crosschecking. pic.twitter.com/9tLETRQta2
— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) March 26, 2017
While Nattinen was called for the original penalty, Jones was sent off for roughing and Addison was handed a five-minute major for cross checking and a game misconduct. The Knights scored just 11 seconds into the power play and would go on to win the game 5-2, sparking these comments from the Spitfires head coach, Rocky Thompson.
POSTGAME VIDEO: Rocky didn't hold back in his assessment of today's 5-2 Game Two loss in London. pic.twitter.com/8HFEFu3Z2q
— Windsor Spitfires (@SpitsHockey) March 26, 2017
Still, the league decided to punish Addison further for the incident and suspended the Spitfires forward for two games – the two that will take place in Windsor in the coming days.
It’s fair to question the decision as Addison isn’t normally an overly aggressive player with his stick. Not only was he handed a game misconduct midway through the second game, but add two more to that essentially giving him three games for the infraction. In such an important time, it’s tough to lose a player of that magnitude with your playoff series tied at one game a piece.
For Addison, things changed so quickly from Game 1 to Game 2. Signed to an NHL contract and sealing the deal with a two-goal performance, a split second decision now has him suspended right in the heat of the OHL playoffs.