On the Winnipeg Jets' side, Evander Kane, Devin Setoguchi, Mark Scheifele and former Belleville Bulls sniper Eric Tangradi are expected to suit up. For the Washington Capitals, Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green, Braden Holtby and Nicklas Backstrom have been tapped on the shoulder to play.
The NHL pre-season game between the Jets and Capitals in Belleville on Saturday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET) as part of the Kraft Hockeyville celebrations for the Ontario township of Stirling-Rawdon promises to be another memorable chapter in the area's rich hockey history.
When you think hockey and this area of Canada, you have to start with the Golden Jet, Bobby Hull. He was born in nearby Point Anne in 1939. His early hockey roots were shaped in the Belleville minor hockey association before he moved to Woodstock to lead the junior B Warriors to the 1954-55 provincial Sutherland Cup championship.
From Woodstock, Hull played in Galt and St. Catharines before his rookie season with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1957-58. His Hockey Hall of Fame career concluded in 1980 in the WHA with a remarkable 1,018 goals in 1,653 combined regular season and playoff games in the NHL and WHA.
Hull won three Art Ross scoring titles, a Stanley Cup championship with the 1960-61 Blackhawks and three Avco Cups with the Winnipeg Jets of the WHA.
His younger brother Dennis would join Bobby on the Blackhawks in 1964.
About the time the elder Hull, now 74, was finishing up his second season in Chicago, the city of Belleville and area went bonkers over the success of the local senior team, the McFarlands, a club bankrolled by a wealthy local businessman, Harvey McFarland.
The 1957-58 McFarlands beat the Kelowna Packers in the Allan Cup final to win the national senior title and earn the right to represent Canada at the 1959 world championship in Prague.
The story goes that the McFarlands embarked on an ambitious exhibition schedule through Europe prior to the world championships that saw them play more than 30 games in seven weeks. But the club, led by Red Berenson as well as player-coach Ike Hildebrand, managed to persevere to beat the Soviets in the gold-medal final at the Worlds.
Besides Berenson and Hildebrand, Gordie Bell, Bart Bradley, Wayne Brown, Pete Conacher and Al Dewsbury went on to play in the NHL from that McFarlands team.
The Belleville Bulls have been playing in the Ontario Hockey League since 1981. They have advanced to the OHL Robertson Cup three times with their lone championship coming in 1998-99, when they defeated the London Knights.
The 1998-99 Bulls were led coached by local Lou Crawford and led on the ice by forward Justin Papineau, who scored an incredible 21 goals in 21 playoff games that spring. The Bulls, however, were ousted in the Memorial Cup semifinal against the host Ottawa 67's, who advanced to beat the Calgary Hitmen in the final.
Stanley Cup success
In recent years, the Stanley Cup often has made a summer-time sojourn to the Stirling-Rawdon area.
Head coach Marc Crawford steered the 1995-96 Colorado Avalanche to the NHL championship. Matt Cooke brought the Stanley Cup home to share with the locals as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009.
Brad Richardson turned the trick with the Los Angeles Kings in 2011 and Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw accomplished the feat this past summer.
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