April 25 2013 03:37PM
With the season winding down, Hockey Canada is putting together its roster for the world championship team. The team is made up of players whose NHL teams do not make the playoffs and whose teams are knocked out of the first round.
The NHL season has gone late because of the owner's lockout so there is less time between the end of the regular season and the start of the tournament. The players will be heading next week.
Edmonton Oilers Hall, Eberle and Dubnyk are all heading over to play in the World Championships for Canada. Jeff Petry will represent the US. There could be more going over as well. I expect Smid, Yakupov, Gagner and Justin Schultz to get a call as well.
If I am Craig McTavish, I am calling Hockey Canada and all the other teams involved in the tourney. I would be working those phones to get as many of my players on those teams as possible. I am a firm believer that international competition is a huge benefit for all players.
The World Championships are very good hockey. European teams take this very seriously. As Canadians we don't understand how big of a deal this is for the Europeans. This is right up there for them. All their leagues have three to four national team breaks during their season. The players go back home to practice with the national teams. Of course the NHL players don’t get that opportunity but they were brought up through a system that places a high value on success at the tournament.
I still have friends in Hungary who I stay in contact with. When the B pool tournament is going on they send me updates as to how Hungary is doing. Hockey fans there will go nuts when their country can compete in the A group. I think that will happen quite soon for them.
Justin Schultz is a player that may be on the bubble for Team Canada. His offensive game is strong but the defensive side still needs some work. In a short tournament there isn't a lot of time for coaching young defencemen.
There has been talk about Justin being tired after the long season he has had. Some people think that if he is invited he should not accept and just get some rest. ARE YOU SERIOUS? If the Oilers had made it into the playoffs would he have been rested because he was tired?
I agree that he is probably tired. Every college player I ever played with had issues with going from the college schedule to a pro hockey schedule. There was a drop off in their energy levels half way through the season. We have heard Ralph Krueger discuss Justin's energy levels before.
In college they play on weekends, right around forty games a year on the high end. In pro hockey the games just keep coming on average just over every other day. It wears you down physically and mentally. A jump from forty to eighty-two games a year is a huge change.
Until a player has gone through the grind it is very hard to prepare. It isn't that a college player isn't in shape, it’s just that the ability and understanding of how to rest and get your body ready for each game is something that must be learned the hard way, through experience.
If Justin were not to accept a spot on the team because of an injury then I totally understand. Gregor asked him about any injuries and he said nothing that is an issue.
The hockey experiences that Justin has been through this year have been incredible. Playing in the AHL for the first half eased his transition into professional hockey. He has played way more minutes than I expected in his first NHL season. To cap off his first year with exposure to international hockey would only make that first year better.
Coach Lindy Ruff would determine his ice time and game action. No matter if he plays a bunch or none it doesn't matter. Justin would be around good hockey in a tournament where expectations are always high for Team Canada.
If the goal is for Justin to continue his development I hope he gets the opportunity to head to Sweden. For me it is a no-brainer.
Jay Z and Hockey?
It seems like everything Jay Z touches turns to gold. He is a very successful rap artist and businessman. Recently he decided to get into the sport representation business.
This week rumors started to fly around that he will approach top-rated 2013 draft pick Seth Jones to represent him in matters of marketing and branding. I see where Jay Z is coming from on this but I am not so sure it is a good idea.
Making your way in the NHL is hard enough for any player. But when you are the first player taken in the draft there is more scrutiny and attention. Becoming an NHL player requires one hundred percent commitment and most importantly focus.
Of course it would be cool to be eighteen and have Jay Z's phone number on speed dial. You want the latest and coolest clothes or watch? Bam, he will get it. You want to go to a special event that is impossible to get into? Bam, you will be not only at the event but also in the VIP section. There is a young movie stars number you want? She is at your next game. Jay Z is that big.
Does all of that help with your focus on developing into a stud NHL defencemen? No. It won't. After three years or so I would feel more comfortable but right now if I were Seth I would say thanks but now isn't the time.
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