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Reluctance to embrace Olympics will only hurt NHL

by Joeri Loonen
on

In its policy towards the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, the National Hockey League is doing the same mistake as the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev when he tried to implement “perestroika” and “glasnost” some 15 years ago. Gorbachev thought he would reach his objectives by giving the people a little of everything, a little of communism, a little of capitalism and a little freedom. The result was a bit of a mess.

The debate in North American sports media since the hockey season started shows, when one can read between the lines, that the NHL has the same kind of ambivalent feelings towards what should be the biggest show in hockey history. The league wants to be a big part of the show, but not too much. It wants the Olympics to be perceived as something great, but not too great. At least not to the point where it overshadows the NHL All Star game.

The NHL has paid serious money in order to have its logotype integrated with the Salt Lake 2002 logo. Almost every official NHL publication it boasts the Olympic “Hockey Rules” slogan. But when Slovak, German and Latvian players beg to be released for the preliminary round of the Olympic tournament, instead of telling the team GM:s: “Let them go”, the league commissioner looks the other way.

The NHL loves to poach on Olympic ideals, but when a half-injured player declines All-Star game participation in order to be fully fit for the Olympics, a high ranked NHL-official threatens with a fine.

The NHL’s basic problem stems from the fact that North American team sports are not used to i Read more »

The CHL Daily News

by League Press Release
on

QMJHL ALL-STARS LOOK TO WIN ANOTHER HERSHEY CUP

RIMOUSKI – The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League can win its second Hershey
Cup Wednesday night when the QMJHL Dilio Conference All-Stars take on the
Western Hockey League’s Western Conference All-Stars in the third and final
game of the 2002 Hershey Cup CHL All-Star Series.

Game time is 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast live on RDS in Quebec and
on Rogers Sportsnet.

The inaugural Hershey Cup was won last year by the QMJHL’s two all-star
teams and the league has a chance to make it two for two by winning
Wednesday night’s game, to be held at the Colisee de Rimouski, the beautiful
home arena of the l’Oceanic de Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey
League.

The 2002 Hershey Cup CHL All-Star Series opened up in Ottawa on Jan. 16,
when the QMJHL Lebel Conference All-Stars defeated the OHL East Conference
All-Stars 4-2. Frederic Faucher of the Drummondville Voltigeurs sparked
Quebec with a pair of goals, while Jonathan Bellemare of the Shawinigan
Cataractes added three assists.

Matthew Lombardi of the Victoriaville Tigres and Jason Pominville of the
Cataractes scored the other goals for the winners. Olivier Michaud of
Shawinigan, Jean-Francois Racine of Drummondville and Pascal Leclaire of
Montreal all played very well in the victory before 5,439 fans in Ottawa.

Zenon Konopka of the Ottawa 67’s and Blaine Down of the Barrie Colts scored
for the OHL, while Peter Budaj and Andy Chiodo of the Toronto St. Michael’s
Majors and David Chant of the Barrie Colts played in Read more »

Julien Vauclair: From AHL to SLC

by Joeri Loonen
on

“I was worried about my participation in the Olympics”, Vauclair says when discussing the past few months. To be in Salt Lake City was a big personal goal for the young defenseman. Last summer when he signed a 3-year contract with the Ottawa Senators he made sure there was a clause in it which granted his release for the Olympics in case he would be called up. “Nevertheless I had to keep in mind I might not even would be selected. Coach Krüeger had said, at the end of last season, that he would try not to take any AHL-players in his squad. That was the risk of my move to North-America. Now I can say everything has been going for me but I did work very hard to achieve that.”

Vauclair is having a good season. The change of scenery clearly did not hurt him. In pre-season he competed for a roster spot in the Senators’ trainings camp for a long time. Just one week before the start of the season he was demoted to the minor affliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins. Vauclair:”I was really hoping I would start the season in the NHL, but I feel very good in the AHL as well now. Grand Rapids is the best team in the league at the moment. I’m progressing and can develop my game here. From Ottawa I get a lot of response on my game, and the scouts are watching every game.”

Without doubt you can say Julien Vauclair isn’t an offensive defenseman. In 269 Nationalliga A games in Switzerland he produced ‘just’ 7 goals and 21 assists. This season in the AHL he collected 14 points (4+10) in the first 46 games of the season. On the team Vauclair is one of the top 4 defenseman and therefor Read more »

A win and a loss for Switzerland

by Joeri Loonen
on

February 3rd: Slovakia 4 Switzerland 1

6 Days before the start of the Olympics the Swiss team got beaten big time by Slovakia in Boise, Idaho. Since Ralph Krüeger was appointed national team coach in 1997, Switzerland hadn’t been outplayed like they ere in this game. Slovakia dominated throughout the game and outshot the Swiss 45 to 21. Goalie Lars Weibel stopped 41 shots and prevented an even more dramatic result for Switzerland. At the end of the day the main question was what this game had brought the Swiss. The answer seemed to be that this game would be used for provocation.

On the smaller North-American rink the Slovaks were far more motivated then there European coutnerparts who had only lost to Slovakia once in 6 previous meetings. It was ironical that goalie Weibel was Switzerland’s best player as he’d probably see no ice time during the Olympics as David Aebischer and Martin Gerber will be the first two goalies. Krüeger could be quoted that “not a single player could be happy about today’s performance and that the third period saw not much good from their side. Most goals were due to simple errors and them could be blamed on fatigue. We had expected that though.”

Arriving from Sweden will be goalie Martin Gerber and forward Marcel Jenni along with assistant coach Bent-Ake Gustafsson who will all be avaialble for the second game vs Slovakia. Also Martin Steinegger who was recovering from an injury and had not seen any ice yet is likely to be available.

Boxscore

0-1 16. Conne (Della Rossa Read more »

A look at the Czech Under-17 team

by Robert Neuhauser
on
The Czech Under-17 team has left a very solid impression at the previous World Hockey
Challenge in Manitoba. The players are in their second year of international competiton
and some of them have already played their first games in the Czech senior Extraleague.
It is obvious that just like every year, Czech hockey will have representation among the
top prospects for the respective draft, this time 2003 or 2004. The top Czech 1985 born players
have already made their presence felt, especially the “great line”, consisting of forwards
Vojtech Polak – Petr Vrana – Ivo Kratena. Those three keep terrorising the opposition and
draw some comparisons to the line Jaromir Jagr – Robert Reichel – Robert Holik twelve years ago.
So let’s have a look at the brightest 1985 born Czech players (I included also players
who play regularly for the Under-18, but due to their birthdate are still eligible to play
for the Under-17 team)!

Goalie

Jakub Cech – the Havirov goalie broke into the senior Extraleague this season and his start
made some people turn their heads. Cech plays with a suprising portion of maturity and poise
for a 16-year old goalie in the league, where most goalies are around thirty. He plays a mix
of butterfly and stand-up style which is highly effective. Cech has a very good control of
first shots and is also succesfull against rebounds. Uses his blocker and glove well and
is extremly tough to beat on the high side. He has a good size and covers the net and plays
the angles well. Cech plays with lots of confidence and can keep the t Read more »

Kings AHL Update

by Sean Speer
on

As the American Hockey League gets set to play the 2002 American Hockey
League All Star game on February 14 in St. John’s Newfoundland, it also
seems like a good time to evaluate the play of its newest team the
Manchester Monarchs, the Los Angeles Kings’ affilate. It has been a
successful start to the franchise to say the least.

The Monarchs are currently in tied for fourth overall with 60 points. They
have played extremely well at home and have scored over 160 goals for, which
is comparable to many of the other strong teams in the league. Their goals
against is a little high but definitely not enough for concern, especially
considering goaltender Travis Scott, who may be somewhat of a suprise
since the Monarchs boast two other goalies with NHL experience in Stephane
Fiset and Marcel Cousineau. While Fiset has been injured most of the
season, Scott, who will suit up for the AHL Canadian All Stars, has won 14
games and recorded a GAA of 2.58.

The Monarchs have a strong mix of veteran talent and youth throughout their
line up. Their leading scorer thus far has been Ted Donato with 37 points
in 28 games. Donato has scored over 20 goals three times in the NHL and
probably could be used by a number of franchises in the league. He also will
play in the AHL All Star game but on the PlanetUSA team. Also on forward is
Jaroslav Bednar, who the Kings expected to make their roster after taking
him in the most recent edition of the NHL draft. He struggled early in
North America, but he has settled down as is just below a point-a-gam Read more »

Under-20 WJC: A look back at the Team Finland

by Heikki Kallionsivu
on

After the bronze medal game Finland’s head coach Erkka Westerlund said that team had a good tournament and he was satisfied the way his team played. I can easily understand what he said because in my opinion Finland, Canada and Russia were clearly three best teams at this tournament.

Finland’s defence was just as good Russians or Canadians, but Finns forwards were too small and weak compared to Russia & Canada, especially at wing. Finns played very well as a team and they had the tournament’s best goalie (Kari Lehtonen), but that was not enough. After the tournament Westerlund said that talent-wise the gap between Finland and Russia is big and only four-five Finnish players are good enough to play for Team Russia. I’d like to say Finns have five to six players this good, but the truth is that talent difference between Finland and Canada/Russia is obvious.

Finland had in the tournament one or two average showings (first game against Switzerland, semi-final game against the Czech Republic), but in other games they played well to very well. Their best games were the round-robin matches against Russia (win 2-1) and Canada (win 4-1). Team Finland also played well against Russia in semifinals, but unfortunately Russia played maybe their best game in the tournament. The Russians didn’t take stupid penalties and played a very disciplined defensive game. And in that game the Russians skating was superior, they really flew on the ice the whole 61 minutes. The final game was alot easier for the Finns. The Swiss were tired and the Finns, especially Tuomo Ruutu, wanted to w Read more »

The CHL Daily News

by League Press Release
on

TRI-CITY’S ERIC JOHANSSON IS THE CHL PLAYER OF THE WEEK

The CHL Player of the Week for the week ending Feb. 3, 2002 is forward Eric
Johansson of the Tri-City Americans.

Johansson, 20, picked up 11 points in four league games this week, including
four goals. His goals included one power play marker, one shorthanded goal
and one game-winning goal as Tri-City managed a 2-1-1 record for the week
(details below).

Johansson beat out the two other CHL league winners for the week ending Feb.
3 to become the third WHL winner of the CHL award in five weeks. Greg
Chambers of the Peterborough Petes was the Ontario Hockey League Player of
the Week while Dominic Noel of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (Offensive)
and Marc-Andre Fleury (Defensive), also of Cape Breton, were the Quebec
Major Junior Hockey League winners.

The CHL Player of the Week is selected from among the three leagues’
nominees and announced in Tuesday’s editions of the CHL Daily News. The CHL
Player of the Month for January will be announced in Wednesday’s CHL Daily
News.

CHL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Feb. 5 – Eric Johansson, Tri-City Americans, WHL
Jan. 29 – Jason Spezza, Belleville Bulls, OHL
Jan. 22 – Jarret Stoll, Kootenay Ice, WHL
Jan. 15 – Brad Boyes, Erie Otters, OHL
Jan. 8 – Ryley Layden, Lethbridge Hurricanes, WHL
Dec. 17 – Andre Martineau, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, QMJHL
Dec. 10 – Shawn Roed, Portland Winter Hawks, WHL
Dec. 3 – Andy Chiodo, Toronto St. Michael’s Majors, OHL Read more »

Loose Pucks

by Ron Valerino
on

FORGE SPLITS WEEKEND WITH DANVILLE

Wings 4 Forge 1 :
NEVILLE ISLAND (Friday, February 1, 2002) — The Pittsburgh Forge Junior A
hockey club lost a 4-1 decision to the Danville Wings. After Danville scored
the only goal of the opening period, Pittsburgh tied the game 1-1 at the
14:16 mark of the second period on a goal by Mike Handza. It was Handza’s
18th goal of the season — which tied him with Pat Levendusky for the team
lead.

The Wings got a goal by Marek Hornak moments later at 17:38 and led
2-1 after two periods. Danville increased its advantage to 3-1 just 38
seconds into the final period when Jeremy Hall beat Pittsburgh goaltender
Tim Heneroty. The Wings closed out the scoring for the night on a
power-play goal by Bryan Marshall with a minute and 23 seconds left in the
contest.

Forge 3 Wings 1 : Read more »

San Jose Prospects Update

by Kevin Wey
on

While some San Jose Shark players like Gary Suter are nearing the end of their careers, the Sharks have plenty of prospects with the Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League, NCAA DI college hockey, various European leagues, and major juniors in Canada. Many readers are likely familiar with many of these prospects, but some of them are not so well known to Shark fans, and perhaps they should be.

Summaries of Shark prospects with the Cleveland Barons will be available at a later date. Of some Cleveland news: Ryan Kraft, Mike Craig, and Jonathan Cheechoo have all been selected to play in the AHL All-Star Game. (Cheechoo as a starter) However, Cheechoo has missed the past 16 games due to injury.

Some prospects that are considered “graduated” are included within the report, and are among those that are probably the least known among the Sharks prospects. Some prospects who do not have their own profile at Hockey’s Future will also feature career stats along with their current season stats. As follows is a report by position of the 40+ San Jose Shark prospects.

Statistical Note:
All Stats as of February 2, 2002

Goaltenders

Jonas Forsberg
5’10” 160 lb. Catches: Left
6/16/75 Stockholm, Sweden Read more »

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