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The Blues are Gritting Their Teeth

by Larry Deutsch
on

In the post-Slovakian era, the entire St. Louis Blues organization is
struggling mightily to succeed with an ever-evolving new identity. A system
once defined by speed and finesse with a European flare has been completely
overhauled over the past couple of years. General Manager Larry Pleau
sacrificed a fathom or two of the organization’s legendary depth in his
quest to assemble a squad capable of Stanley Cup success.

As an organization, the Blues have done an outstanding job in recent history
with player development, turning several marginal prospects into legitimate
NHLers. Although the knock against the system has been their failure to
produce a single legitimate superstar, they were working with some fairly
low draft positions. Jochen Hecht, Michal Handzus, Marty Reasoner, and
Ladislav Nagy were developed into good enough NHL players to be used as
trade bait in the acquisitions of superstar forwards Keith Tkachuk and Doug
Weight.

Now, it would seem, the desired attribute is an intangible characteristic
known as “grit.” All hockey clichés aside, (standing up for a teammate,
never taking a shift off, taking your lumps to score a goal) in the grand
scheme things, grit is simply the willingness to do whatever it takes to win
the Stanley Cup.

There are several players currently in the system who seem to embody this
rather nebulous concept and thereby represent the visible future of the
Blues:

Pepperpot center Eric Boguniecki, continues to light up AHL goaltenders,
maintaining a point-per-game pace and could certainly see a call- Read more »

Sponsor Spotlight: EverestNews.com

by HF Staff
on

There is the old adage said among mountain climbers when asked why they risk their lives to climb grand peaks: “Because it is there”. It seems that answer really is the subconscious driving force in most humans, to answer that call to accomplish something that simply “was there” and moved them to action.

Remember when you were a small child playing in some setting where there was a tall hill? Whether it was a large dirt-pile at a construction site or a natural slope that was formed naturally by the earth, the odds are that you climbed that hill. Sweating and breathing heavy, remember that feeling when you got to the peak and stared down at everything below, that feeling of accomplishment, solitude, and peacefulness?

With that being said, Mountain climbing has become one of the most talked about and followed activities for the professional and amateurs alike. When Sir Edmund Hillary became the first Man to summit on Everest in 1953, Mountain Climbing became a source of national pride for England and a world-wide phenomenon was born. Since than, countless books, movies, documentaries, and companies have came into existence to fuel this global obsession with Mountain Climbing.

There is one site on the Internet that has fast become the pre-eminent place to get virtually almost any kind of information on Mountain climbing, EverestNews.com

Read more »

Trade Deadline a Seller’s Market in the West

by Jeff Bromley
on

I’m all for the concept of parity that has inundated the Western Hockey League but as far as trade deadline deals, speculation and innuendo goes, she just ain’t what used to be.

In just over a week’s time, on January 14, the WHL’s trade deadline will have past and with the emerging trend of too much demand, not enough supply, this year’s round of poker will have lots of players, all wanting to draw some cards, but few wanting to meet the ante.

Every year the Christmas wish list gets extended a few weeks in the WHL because of the multitude of G.M.’s still searching for that elusive cog that could push their club over the top, put them into contention to make some noise in the playoffs or augment an already powerful lineup. Looking for the bargain deal, most of the gifts this year have been opened early in the season long before the economics of supply and demand had put their prices into the stratosphere.

B.C. Division -In the B.C. Division, where four of the five clubs have a legitimate shot of reaching the Western Conference final, the shopping could be all but done. Teams such as Kootenay, Kelowna and Kamloops have all made deals that are designed to address certain needs. Kootenay and Kelowna both revamped their goaltending situations by adding B.J. Boxma and Shane Bendera, respectively. Kelowna also tinkered with their defensive corps with the addition of former ICE blueliner Jesse Ferguson and Kevin Young out of Portland in October. In continuing the trend of adding former Kootenay players, Nick Marach joined the Rockets in a deal from Vanc Read more »

WJC: Interview with Pär Bäcker

by pbadmin
on

HF: Sweden defeated the Czech Republic 2-1 yesterday, what are your impressions of that game?

Bäcker: We had most of the play but once again our biggest problem this tournament turned up again: scoring. That almost got us in trouble.

HF: How about the performance of team Sweden at the WJC so far?

Bäcker: We are still undefeated so……

HF: In the quarter finals you will meet Canada, who are favourites for gold.

Bäcker: Canada will be a very hard and tough game for us, but so would probably have been all of the other opponents we could have drawn. We will give our best and see what comes from it.

HF: What about your own performance so far at this WJC?

Bäcker: I’m playing an ok tournament so far. I’m satisfied with my own performance.

HF: What are your strengths and weaknesses in your game?

Bäcker: My strengths are my puckhandling and the ability to stay calm on the ice when needed. A thing I need to improve though is my shooting.

HF: You play for Färjestad, currently by far the best team in the Swedish league. What’s it like to be part of that team?

Bäcker: It’s great. Really fantastic. It’s a great club and I’m proud to be part of them at the moment.

HF: Jörgen Jönsson and Mathias Johansson have been selected in the Olympic squad for Sweden. Both are teammates of yours. What do you have to say about it?

Bäcker: That is really great for them and for the club as well of course. Both players are very good players. Johansson and Jönsson are Read more »

A Wheatie and a Hawk Named WHL Players of the Month

by League Press Release
on

Calgary – The Western Hockey League today announced the Players of the Month
for December in both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

In the Eastern Conference, which includes the East and Central Divisions,
the Player of the Month is forward Jordin Tootoo of the Brandon Wheat Kings.

The 18 year-old from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut recorded ten goals and 18 points
in ten games during the Month of December including three power-play goals
and two game-winning goals. He helped lead his team to an impressive 8
wins, one loss and a tie for the month.

Tootoo was drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.

WESTERN CONFERNCE

In the Western Conference, which includes the B.C. and U.S. Divisions, the
Player of the Month is forward Joe Balej of the Portland Winter Hawks.

Balej, a 19-year-old from Myjava, Slovakia recorded 14 goals and 23 points
in 14 games during the Month of December, including ten power-play goals, a
short-handed goal and one game-winning goal. Balej was drafted by the
Montreal Canadiens in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.

Joe Balej is also a deserving choice as the Western Conference Player of the
Month for December.

WJC: Interview with Markus Seikola

by pbadmin
on

HF: Today Finland blasted away France by a score of 8-0. How did you experience that game?

Seikola: We had a difficult start but after the 2nd goal things started to work and was easily ours.

HF: What can be expected from team Finland for the rest of the tournament?

Seikola: Succes, haha. No to be honest, it will be very hard to get a good result here. All the teams in the quarter finals are very strong and there’s no clear favourite. USA, Canada, Czech Republic, they all can win gold.

HF: Are you satisfied with your own performance so far at this WJC?

Seikola: A little bit, but it could be better, but that’s all I want to say about it.

HF: When did you start playing hockey?

Seikola: When I was 6 years old in Laitila.

HF: What broguht you to the game of hockey?

Seikola: I also used to play baseball and athletics but when I had to choose I liked hockey best.

HF: Who is your favorite player?

Seikola: Jyrki Lumme

HF: What are your favourite teams in the NHL and in Europe?

Seikola: In the NHL the Toronto Maple Leafs in Europe TPS Turku.

HF: How do you see your future. You were drafted already. Do you have plans to play in North-America?

Seikola: Right now I don’t want to think nor talk about that. I am here to play the WJC with team Finland and that is what is important now.

HF: What are your strengths and in what areas your game needs improvement you feel?

Seikola: My strengths would be my puckhandling and my play on the power play while skating is Read more »

WJC quarter-final games recap

by Ivana Paulova
on

Written by Ivana Paulova and Robert Neuhauser

Quarter-final games

Slovakia – Switzerland 2:3

Defense wins championships. A clear motto of the playoff contests.
Including the quarterfinal match Slovakia-Switzerland. The beginning
of the game was quite nervous and both teams were waiting for
mistakes of the opposing side. The Swiss players were slightly
better in the first minutes and created some chances because
they played better in the offensive zone. The first Slovak quality
chance was really huge. Tomas Kopecky went on a lone breakaway
but 17-year old goalie Tobias Stephan could make a save on his
backhand deke. Minutes later Tomas Jasko, a 2002 prospect, had
nearly the same chance but the pass he should receive was out
of Jasko´s reach and he couldn´t corral this puck. The Swiss
team was playing shorthanded twice but their defense worked well
and the Slovaks didn´t have any quality chances. Overall the
Slovaks were more skilled and handled the puck better, but the
Swiss grit and a willingness to play physical payed the dividends
and they were more than equal opponent to the Slovaks.

It was clear that the team which will score first will have a big advantage. Both teams
tried hard, Frantisek Skladany went for a two-on-one breakaway but Skladany couldn’t lift
the puck over Stephan. Read more »

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