Dowd puts career on back burner ... for a week
Ninth annual high school all-star game set for Sunday
BY WAYNE WITKOWSKI
Jim Dowd has been keeping his ear peeled to the phone in recent weeks waiting for a call from his agent, Hugh Gorman of Boston, and from the National Hockey League to see where he may be playing next season.
"I'm looking for a job right now," said the Brick native, who became a free agent after the season. The former Devils center started the season with Chicago and then was traded at the March 9 deadline to the Colorado Avalanche.
After beating the Dallas Stars, 4-1, in their NHL playoff series opener, the Avalanche was swept out of the next series by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, although Dowd had some very good moments, including a goal and an assist in a 4-3 loss. He had five goals and 13 assists on the season.
"We didn't make adjustments and they played smart and waited for us to make mistakes," said Dowd. "It was one of the best experiences of my career being on a team that every year expects to be in the playoffs. I've had 14 years in this league. Now I'm looking to play back East."
Dowd is accustomed to making moves, having played for eight teams in 13 years while scoring 63 goals and assisting 158 in 573 games.
"I had my best playoffs in a while this season, and that should help me," said Dowd. "I've played on a lot of teams and have a lot of experience."
Dowd, who still resides in the area at Point Pleasant, also has been spending time on the phone putting finishing touches on the Jim Dowd's Shoot for the Stars ninth annual Shore High School All Star Hockey Game that pits the best players from Ocean County high school teams against the best from Monmouth. It will be held on Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Red Bank Armory Ice Complex.
The game every year sponsors an area charity and proceeds from this year's game go to Dottie's House, a transitional housing shelter for women and children victimized by domestic violence. Tickets cost $10 at the door and also can be purchased at a scrimmage between the two teams and practice session on today from 3:30-5 p.m. at the Red Bank Armory.
Three players from Brick will play for the Ocean team - Anthony Zipfel and Vin LaRosa of Brick Township and Ryan Granquist of Brick Memorial. Although the lineups consist primarily of seniors, Zipfel and LaRosa were selected because Brick Township does not have any seniors on its roster.
With eight years of experience in preparing the game, Dowd says everything is going well for this year's game and credits the help of Tom Cooper, Rick Handchen and Pat Doyle as well as Doug Brooks at the Armory.
There also is a program book with advertisements purchased by area corporate sponsors.
A player from each team will be selected as Most Valuable Player and will receive a free pair of skates, courtesy of Easton Hockey.
There will be a 50/50 prize raffle and the first 250 people at the game will receive a free Jim Dowd's Shoot for the Stars Foundation beach ball.
Other items from the foundation will be on sale, including T-shirts, pucks, tote bags, clear bags, hats and Sharpie markers.
In the past former Brick Township stars goalie Joe Pearce and defenseman Kevin Kielt played in the game. Kielt was named the state's Player of the Year and this season played for Boston University, which was ranked No. 1 in the national polls late in the season. Pearce was a backup goalie for Boston College, which knocked Boston U. out in the regional finals of the NCAA tournament and lost in the national championship game.
Monmouth has won the last four games of the series and leads it, 5-3. Kevin Raylman and Ed Leibe of Shore power Toms River North High will coach the Ocean All-Stars. The Monmouth coaching staff is made up of Manasquan coaches Tim Grable, Tom Matthews, Tom O'Connor and Brian Neuwirth.
After the game, Dowd will concentrate on continuing his NHL career. He had signed as a free agent before, in 1997 with the Calgary Flames and two years later with the Edmonton Oilers as well as with the Chicago Black Hawks last season after the league's lockout before he was picked up by Colorado. He also was selected in June of 2000 by the Minnesota Wild in the expansion draft.
After leading Brick Township to the NJSIAA title in 1985-86 and breaking the then-national school record of 375 points (189 goals, 186 assists), Dowd was the eighth-round pick by the New Jersey Devils, their seventh player selected in the draft. He played first with Lake Superior State University where he was an All-American before going to the Devils in 1993-94.
In his second season with the Devils in 1994-95, a strike-shortened season for the league, Dowd notched the game-winning goal in the Stanley Cup Finals that gave the Devils a 2-0 lead over the Detroit Red Wings. The Devils went on to sweep to the Stanley Cup that year.
From there, Dowd was part of a trade to the Hartford Whalers, who later that day traded him to the Vancouver Canucks. Dowd would play only 38 regular season games and one playoff game.
In 1996, the New York Islanders claimed Dowd in the waiver draft and he got sparse playing time before signing with the Flames as a free agent. Calgary traded Dowd in June 1998 to the expansion Nashville Predators for future draft considerations and was traded for the second time in his career before playing a single game, this time going from Nashville to the Oilers. He later resigned as a free agent with the Oilers for the following 1999-2000 season where he appeared in a career high 69 games. After the season, Dowd was picked up by Minnesota.
With his vast NHL experience, Dowd is optimistic at 37 years of age that he still has some good seasons ahead to help a team in the league.