MONTREAL, QC. — Assembling an AHL team is a little different from doing the same thing at the NHL-level. Yes, each AHL franchise is a business and needs to be competitive to draw fans but the primary purpose of the team is to develop prospects. So each player must be on a path to the NHL? Well, not necessarily.
To help prepare prospects for a successful transition to the NHL, a competent coaching staff who are superb teachers (something desperately missing in Hamilton) are required, as well as character veterans who can demonstrate to younger teammates just how to be a professional.
Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin added one of those character players when he signed Jake Dowell to a one-year deal. With 157 NHL games and 305 AHL games under his belt, Dowell will be able to provide the leadership role both on and off the ice as well mentoring his teammates. Last season Dowell won the Fred T Hunt Memorial Award as “the AHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey.”
Dowell was a teammate of Canadiens defenseman Davis Drewiske when both played with the University of Wisconsin Badgers in the NCAA. Dowell won a Frozen Four championship in 2006 with the Badgers. Here are Dowell’s career regular season statistics.
But a testament to his character is found outside the stats sheet. Dowell has a unique family dynamic and is carrying a substantial burden. Dowell lost his father to Huntington’s disease during the AHL All Star break last season.
E:60, ESPN’s newsmagazine profiled Jake Dowell and his family’s struggle with Huntington’s. Dowell said, “It’s just a scary thing that you have to just absolutely be ready to accept your fate either way. It’s basically a flip of a coin.” Watch the video below.
E:60 tells the tragic and courageous story of hockey player Jake Dowell and the genetic curse that hangs over his family and, possibly, him.
(Stick tap to Don MacAskill)