If you were paying attention during the Stanley Cup finals last spring, you got to see Oak Park’s Joe Corvo manning the blue line and playing the point on the power play for the Ottawa Senators. Although the Senators fell to the Anaheim Ducks in five games, Corvo, in the first year of a four-year contract with Ottawa, had a pretty good season. Among other accomplishments, he set an Ottawa single game scoring record for defensemen, racking up six points on a goal and five assists. And in the Eastern Conference finals, Corvo scored off a face-off in the second overtime of Game 2, giving the Senators a 2-0 lead over the Buffalo Sabres and propelling them to a 4-1 series win.
According to long-time family friend Ron Morelli, one thing that separates Corvo from other good local hockey players is his ability to elevate his game to the level of play around him . . . and he has succeeded at many levels. Corvo played some high school hockey with the Fenwick Friars and eventually moved on to play NCAA Division I hockey at Western Michigan University. During his college career, he took time out to play on the U.S. National Team in the 1997 World Junior Championships. The U.S. team came home with a silver medal and Corvo was named the top defenseman of the tournament. The Los Angeles Kings drafted Corvo in the fourth round of the 1997 National Hockey League draft, and Joe finally broke into the NHL with the Kings during the 2002-03 season. With the exception of the lost 2004-05 season, he’s been there ever since.
The NHL cancelled the 2004-05 season and locked out the players when the owners couldn’t reach a collective bargaining agreement with the Players Association. Like many other players, Corvo sat out most of the season, but decided in January that he needed to get back on the ice. Before joining the Chicago Wolves for the latter part of their season (and helping the Wolves reach the American Hockey League finals), Corvo spent a couple weeks practicing with the OPRF High School team to get back in shape-easy workouts for Joe, but the hockey experience of a lifetime for some of the young Huskies.
The Senators started this season with back-to-back wins against the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team that includes Corvo’s Fenwick high school teammate, Bates Battaglia. Ottawa is off to a fast 8-1-0 start, (with Corvo contributing two goals and two assists) and is favored by most hockey experts to win the Eastern Conference and get back to the Stanley Cup Finals.
If the Blackhawks don’t get there, we should all become Ottawa fans. The Stanley Cup is unique among major sports trophies, and traditionally, each member of the winning team gets personal possession of the cup for a day. Yes, the cup has been to some strange places (the White House, Lenin’s tomb, churches, bars, and even strip clubs), but wouldn’t it be great to see the Stanley Cup at the Paul Hruby Ice Arena?