The Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League have three OHL grads on the ice and a Memorial Cup champion behind the bench. The AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues has a good young goaltender in Jordan Binnington, a one time OHL Goaltender of the year. There is also the veteran toughness of Ben Eager, in contrast to the young offensive potential of Phil McRae. Local Toronto favourite John Anderson has been head coach of the Wolves since 1997-98, with exception of a three year stint in between in the NHL.
Binnington played between the pipes in the Ontario Hockey League for four years from 2009-10 to 2012-13, all with the Owen Sound Attack. Owen Sound drafted Jordan in the second round of the 2009 OHL Priority Selection, 40th overall.
In his second year in the league, Binnington played a major role in the Attack’s Robertson Cup championship and their appearance at the Memorial Cup tournament. In 2012-13, Jordan played 50 games for Owen Sound, posting a 2.17 goals against average and a .932 save percentage while shutting out opponents an astounding seven times.
In that final year in the OHL, Binnington was named OHL Goaltender of the Year and won the Dave Pinkney Trophy for the OHL team with the lowest GAA, sharing with Brandon Hope and Aaron Taylor. He was named the OHL First Team All-Star goaltender and also appeared in two games for Canada at the 2013 IIHF World Juniors.
The St. Louis Blues selected Binnington in the third round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, 88th overall. He played his first pro hockey in 2011-12, after the Attack were eliminated from the Robertson Cup playoffs, appearing in a single game for the AHL’s Peoria Rivermen.
In 2013-14, Jordan played mostly in the ECHL with the Kalamazoo Wings, appearing in just one game with the Wolves. This year, Binnington is putting up great numbers for Chicago and was called up to the NHL Blues at the end of November and start of December but didn’t get into any games. Jordan is signed through the 2015-16 season.
Eager played four years in the OHL from 2000-01 to 2003-04 with the Oshawa Generals. Ben was the ninth overall pick by the Generals at the 2000 OHL Priority Selection and was a first round pick at the NHL Entry Draft two years later, going 23rd overall to the Phoenix Coyotes.
Ben played his first pro hockey at the end of the 2003-04 season after Oshawa was eliminated from the playoffs, appearing in five regular season and three Calder Cup playoff games in the AHL with the Philadelphia Phantoms.
between 2005-06 and 2013-14, Eager played 407 regular season games in the National Hockey League, scoring 43 goals and assisting on 42. Ben also appeared in 47 Stanley Cup playoff games, adding six points. Over his career to date, Eager has played for the Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks, Atlanta Thrashers, San Jose Sharks and Edmonton Oilers.
Eager was a Calder Cup champion in 2004-05 with the Phantoms. He then played a major checking line role with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2009-10 and got to hoist the Stanley Cup.
2014-15 started out in Moscow for Eager, playing five games for CSKA Moskva in the KHL. He was released by CSKA on December 4 and signed with the Wolves on December 18.
McRae played four years in the Ontario Hockey League from 2006-07 to 2009-10 with the London Knights and Plymouth Whalers. Phil was a first round pick by the Knights at the 2006 OHL Priority Selection, 20th overall. He was traded to the Whalers 33 games into his final season. In that final season, McRae won gold with the United States at the 2010 IIHF WJC.
The Blues took Phil in the second round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, 33rd overall. To date, he has played 15 games in the National Hockey League, all with the Blues in 2010-11. In 2013-14, McRae spent the year in Finland playing for Tappara and the Espoo Blues. Phil is signed with the Wolves for the 2014-15 season.
John Anderson – Head Coach
Anderson played four years in the OHL from 1973-74 to 1976-77 with the Toronto Marlboros. In his second year, John was a Memorial Cup All-Star as the Marlies captured the championship in 1974-75.
The Toronto Maple Leafs took Anderson eleventh overall at the 1977 NHL Amateur Draft. The Quebec Nordiques also selected John at the 1977 WHA Amateur Draft. Anderson played 814 regular season games in the NHL between 1977-78 and 1988-89 with the Maple Leafs, Nordiques and Hartford Whalers. He also played in 37 games in the Stanley Cup playoff games.
Anderson coached the Chicago Wolves in the IHL from 1997-98 to 1999-00. He then jumped with the team to the AHL and continued on as head coach from 2000-01 to 2008-09. After a three year stint in the NHL, coaching the Atlanta Thrashers and Phoenix Coyotes, John returned to the Wolves for the 2013-14 season.
The franchise began play in the IHL for the 1994-95 season. After that version of the IHL bit the dust, the Wolves joined the AHL for the 2001-02 season. Chicago won championships in the IHL in 1997-98 and 1999-00. Since joining the AHL, the Wolves have won the Calder Cup twice, in 2001-02 and 2007-08.
Currently, Chicago is affiliated with the St. Louis Blues. The team plays home games at the AllState Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, a 16,692 seat venue that opened in 1980. The team has retired two numbers over their existence. Number 1 is retired in honour of goaltender Wendell Young, the team’s current general manager. Number 11 is retired for offensive powerhouse Steve Maltais.