So-called experts seem to be doing nothing but condemning Canada’s World Junior hockey team. A bronze medal. That’s all the hard working juniors came back with from that icebox in northern Sweden. They ask why Canada isn’t producing the best hockey players in the world anymore. This unattainable goal that we’ve supposedly set for ourselves of coming home with the gold every year from every major tournament has become ridiculous. The one drawback to hitting gold five years in a row at this tournament (’93-’97) is that now it’s gold or nothing.
‘The Russians and Czechs are more talented players than the Canadians are now’, the experts say. ‘We produce nothing but muckers and grinders instead of talented hockey players’. Newsflash; the Russians have been pretty good since the ’50′s and the Czechs, Slovaks, Swedes and Finns aren’t exactly slouches. Witness Jaromir Jagr, Dominik Hasek, Ziggy Palffy, Peter Forsberg and Teemu Selanne. Could it be that the rest of the world has just caught up to us in the standards of hockey? After all, every time we won at whatever level all it did was breed complacency and arrogance. Nobody can win the gold every year. That’s why they play the games. And another thing, if the European system is so much better than ours, (better passers, more offence) how come the gold medal game at the WJC between Russia and the Czech Republic was a classic battle featuring all the scoring and excitement of a Ottawa-New Jersey game. That’s right, they trapped. In fact, they trapped so well that neither team scored in three periods of hockey and one more of Read more»
The platinum blonde hair is a dead giveaway. The hair may turn the
girl’s heads, but his speed down the wing is what’s turning the
scout’s heads. The white flash of uniform that flies around the ice,
wreaking havoc and bringing scoring chances with him, that’s the
Jozef Balej that has scouts looking.
Balej was found by the Winterhawks entirely by chance. GM Ken Hodge
was on a scouting trip in Minnesota, and needed to kill some time. He
took in a USHL game, and has been thankful ever since. Balej was
seeing limited ice time, but more than enough to catch Hodge’s eye.
As other European players on the Hawks draft list were selected by
other teams, Hodge remembered Balej, and took a chance.
Hodge’s chance is beginning to pay dividends. Balej came out hot in
preseason, but then most of the WHL’s older veteran players were at
NHL camps. When the regular season started, Balej had trouble finding
his scoring touch. But it was only a matter of time before his
talents took over. Through 12/11, Balej had yet to miss a game, and Read more»
After a disappointing four games to one defeat to the Calgary Hitmen in the last years Western Hockey League Final, the Blazers went to work to
re-tool a hockey club laden with nineteen year old players. Lost to the club this season through graduation or a jump to pro hockey were Kyle Calder
(Chicago), Mike Brown (Vancouver), Stephen Gainey (Dallas), Kenric Exner (St.Louis), Jordon Flodell (released, briefly in ECHL, now with Lethbridge
Hurricanes of WHL), David Haun (unknown), Ty Jones (Chicago), Robin Regehr (Calgary), Kyle Kos (Tampa Bay), Ajay Baines(ECHL), Donnie
Kinney (ECHL), and Chris St. Croix (Calgary). Eleven of the twelve players were vital cogs in the Blazers run to the League Final and if the Blazers
were to even be competitve this year would need to be replaced in one way or another. With a strong draft record most pundits knew the Blazers
would bring in some talented youngsters from the ’98 draft, get more production from some of last years role players and make a trade or two to
achieve this. So far so good! The Blazers have iced a line up that most agree is one of the fastest teams seen in a while. As a group this team was built
to play a high tempo, tenacious forechecking game and for the most part it has been a success. Even when losing the Blazers are more often than not
out chancing and outshooting their opponents.