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At first glance, trading your 16-year-old son may seem like a heartless move, but former NHL star Doug Gilmour said it was a carefully planned family decision.

Mr. Gilmour, a Hockey Hall of Famer whose best years were spent with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1990s, is now the general manager of the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League. He raised eyebrows by trading his son Jake, who turns 17 next week, to the Niagara IceDogs before he had the chance to play a single game for his dad's team.

Jake Gilmour and goaltender Blake Richard were sent to Niagara along with a conditional 12th-round pick in the OHL draft in exchange for a 12th-round pick in the 2015 OHL draft. Mr. Gilmour had selected his son, who played junior B hockey in Brampton, last season, in the eighth round of the 2012 OHL draft.

"If he played in Kingston, people would say you're only there because of your dad," the elder Gilmour said. "I said: 'Jake, I want you to play in a situation where you're on your own and you make it on your own,' and his mother agreed. This is what we came up with and we felt it was the best."

Doug Gilmour said the move was planned two months ago after discussions with his ex-wife Amy about what was best for their son's hockey and personal futures. He said Jake had hoped to attend training camp with the Frontenacs later this month, but was persuaded the trade was in his best interest.

Jake lives in Toronto with his mother and will be closer to home if he makes the roster of the IceDogs, who play in St. Catharines. Like his father, Jake is a forward but, at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, is much bigger than dad, who was 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds in his playing days.

However, he has yet to show the same scoring touch: In 43 games last season with the Brampton Bombers of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, Jake had eight assists. Doug Gilmour had 450 goals and 964 assists in 20 NHL seasons, peaking at 127 points in the 1992-93 season when he led the Maple Leafs within one game of the Stanley Cup final.

"He's a late bloomer," Mr. Gilmour said of his son. "He's got size and he can fly, too. But at the end of the day it's not about being a GM and giving up something [in a trade]. He's my child and Amy's, too, and we want what's best for him."

If Jake Gilmour did make the Frontenacs after training camp later this summer he would have had an additional burden along with any perceived nepotism. Doug Gilmour is a Kingston native, which would have put even more pressure on his son to live up to the family name.

"It's hard enough for him with the name on his back, so that's why we went this route," Mr. Gilmour said.

Along with the blessing of his ex-wife, he said he also had the approval of Frontenacs owner and president Doug Springer. But Mr. Gilmour has left himself some wiggle room: He said if Jake proves to be good enough to play in the OHL with the IceDogs, he would think about another trade, after the OHL's one-year moratorium on any further trades for a player is up – once he's shown he can do it on his own.

"This is what we came up with and felt it was the best," Mr. Gilmour said. "Now in saying that, it doesn't mean I can't get him back in a year."

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