Peterborough Petes leading scorer Ryan Spooner went home to Ottawa after requesting a trade on Monday.
Spooner, 18, who has 10 goals, 19 points and a -5 rating in 14 games, told The Examiner it’s best for his development to go elsewhere. He said it had nothing to do with being benched for the final 10 minutes of Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Niagara IceDogs.
Spooner, the Petes’ first-round pick in 2008 and a second-round pick of the Boston Bruins, doesn’t want to be a part of a rebuilding team.
While Petes’ GM Dave Reid has not labelled this a rebuilding year, the Petes (4-11-0-1) are tied for last in the OHL with the Barrie Colts.
“I thought it was the best thing for me,” Spooner said. “They have a young team this year and are somewhat rebuilding. By me going elsewhere, hopefully, they can get back more young players who will make them a lot better in the future. The last thing I wanted to do was leave my team to hang out to dry, but I’m not doing that because they are going to get assets back for me. Hopefully, it’s a win-win situation.”
Spooner said the request was not a result of Saturday’s benching.
“The coaches were trying to hold me accountable,” Spooner said. “I respect that and will learn from that. It had nothing to do with it. I’ve been thinking about this the last little while. (The timing) is just coincidence. It would be foolish to ask for a trade just because I got sat for 10 minutes. It happens to every-one.”
Spooner said it had nothing to do with being unhappy with head coach Mike Pelino or the organization.
“I got along with (Pelino) well. I thought he was a good coach. It has nothing to do with that. I’m going to miss all the guys on the team. I respected all the coaches and what they offered. I respected Dave. Just chalk it up to moving forward. I just thought it was the best thing for my career.”
Wanting to play for a winner is a factor, he said.
“The last two years we’ve finished in the bottom of the Eastern Conference and the OHL. That is, obviously, frustrating. If our team was in first place right now I definitely wouldn’t be asking for a trade,” he said. “That has something to do with it. It’s my third year and I’d like to go to a contending team. There are lots of factors which went into it.”
There was a concern within the Petes’ brass that Spooner wasn’t buying into some of the defensive and team concepts they were preaching. While he was putting up points regularly, it was often the line his line was up against which was doing most of the opposition’s scoring as well.
That is part of what led to Spooner’s benching Saturday.
“I think the coaching staff is just holding everyone accountable,” said Reid.
Spooner is the second player to ask for a trade in the past week along with defenceman Chris Buonomo. Reid doesn’t believe there is discontent in the locker room. After Buonomo’s trade request, Reid addressed rumours of players wanting out last week in a team meeting. He left his door open for players who are unhappy to air their concerns to him. Spooner is the first player since then and ask for a trade, said Reid.
“Everyone knows we’re trying to bring in a little bit of a different culture to the team,” Reid said. “We’re holding players accountable to levels that maybe they weren’t used to in the past. Is that right or wrong? I guess we’ll find out in due time. I don’t think we’re giving the wrong message.
“I don’t see it as a negative to our team, our organization, our coaching staff, myself. You have a lot of people on a team and not everyone agrees on the way you’re doing things,” said Reid. “We’ll move forward.”
Spooner said there is no unrest in the dressing room.
“All the guys on the team have been pretty positive lately. I know everyone on the team, including myself, were trying to turn it around and everyone else is still going to try to turn it around. I respect all the players on the team and it had nothing to do with people being fed up with stuff. There were no internal problems,” said Spooner.
He says it wasn’t an easy decision and something he thought about for several weeks.
“I’m very thankful for my 2 1/2 years playing for the Petes,” he said. “I’d like to thank the organization and the fans for their support. I’m sad to leave, but I think I need to do this.”
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