SAME OLD STORY – SWEDES CHOKE AGAIN.
After yet another failure for the Swedish national team in the World Junior Championships, no major criticism has been directed towards the team, the coach or the players. It seems like Swedes have gotten used to constant failures and constant choking in key-games.
The way I see it, the main reason for this is a lack of emotion from the players. Swedes are always disciplined, and they know how to play a system. They usually have a couple of very skilled players too, but as a team there is not enough heart and emotion. On-ice leadership is a problem too.
Just like stickhandling or skating is a talent, heart and grit is one too. Players can improve it to a certain point, but not all players can be the best skaters, stickhandlers, and not all can have the biggest hearts on the ice either. It seems to me like Sweden has been focusing so much on the defensive side of the game, and downplayed the importance of heart, that not many Swedes show emotion on the ice. The players who defy the system-hockey and show a lot of emotion on the ice are often told to play the system first, and that the emotion is secondary. It should be the other way around. To me, having the desire to win is the single most important quality in a player and when the players with the biggest desire to win are slotted into a role with little room to lead and change momentum of a game, the heart the player will show will suffer.
December 31st, 1998
Well now that the new year is almost upon us and the holidays have taken their toll on myself(and my car, may it rest in peace), I’ve decided that the slacking off is going to stop. The most recent of these updates have been few and far between and I hope to remedy that right now. So enjoy it and the New Year’s celebrations, because a good number of us will be regretting it in the morning(the over-celebration that is).
World Junior Championships: Three Penguins draftees are participating this year, Andrew Ference, Mika Lehto, and Alexander Zevakhin. First round draftee Milan Kraft was left off of the Czech roster for seemingly no reason other than his migration to North America. Ference was medically cleared to play at the last minute and should help bolster a strong Canadian defense. Mika Lehto is seeing little ice time (just under 20 minutes in 3 games) for the Finnish team, playing backup to Mika Noronen. Alexander Zevakhin made the Russian roster by the skin of his teeth (he was considered a longshot to make the team) and has one goal for the offense-minded Russian team.
In this report, I’m going to cover what is undoubtedly the most important position on the ice. Take a look at Stanley Cup winners throughout history, and what do they all have in common? Goaltending. At the very least, it’s been good, if not great. Detroit has had Chris Osgood and Mike Vernon. In previous years it’s been names such as Broduer, Roy and Richter. So who’s going to be the goaltender for the Sharks when they eventually win the Cup? Will it be one of the below named players, or someone else currently with another team or in juniors?
In the recent update of the Philadelphia Flyers page, I reshuffled the deck when it came to the new Hockey’s Futures’ Flyers Prospect Top 10 List and boy- o-boy did many of you out there notice. The feedback was both swift and strong. Players like Jesse Boulerice and Brian Wesenberg would sleep much better at night if they knew the rabid backings they already have attained in the Delaware Valley. A fan inquiring about the omission of Paul Healey from the latest list even used the Hockey’s Futures’ Message Boards, a spot in the HF Newsletter that all hockeyheads should check out.
Momma didn’t raise no dummy and I quickly got the feeling that there was a need for more information on the players just sitting on the outside of the Top 10 List looking in. The Flyers are finding that having your top farm team play 300 yards from your home rink does wonders for fan interest in your younger players. It also speaks very favorably on the depth in the organization. Three years ago I would have had trouble coming up with a Top 7 List. The club’s future as far as drafted prospects go, while not great compared to the best drafting NHL clubs, is certainly showing signs of regeneration after cleaning out the cupboards to acquire Eric Lindros in 1992.
Now a little more info on the boys on the bubble….
ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS 10 BRAVE COACHES !
For many swedish NHL-prospects, this season has so far been an endless practice. Yes, they may dress for games and they are almost always included in their respective clubteams squad, but many just dress to sit on the bench for entire games – or possibly serve “too many men on the ice” – penalties on the much shorter bench at the opposite side of the rink.
The NHL teams that drafted them are surely concerned about this, at least to some degree. It would be better if they played, but experience also shows that players mature into regulars on their club teams after serving a couple of years or so learning how to not be a defensive liability and how to best fit into the teams defensive system. To most coaches in Sweden, knowing how to be a good defensive player is the most important quality if you want to be a regular on a team. The second most important quality is discipline. Don’t show any emotion – just obey the defensive system.