World Championships

Photo: Resolute/Wikimedia

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

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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  • Citizen David

    Agree with everything in the article – though, if I were in Jones’ shoes, I’d be signing up for the watches and the girls asap.

    Two other comments:

    (1) I don’t understand all of the idle talk about replacing Dubnyk with Miller or Luongo, or Smith. He’s just fine IMO – and my view is the people glomming on to this train of thought don’t really understand where the holes are on this team.

    (2) On a similar note, I appreciate that the oil could use some more grit, but a lot of people just don’t get it. There was a guy on your post-game show last night who felt that the team would be better if we had Brown, Hordichuk, and Eager all in the lineup on a nightly basis. Crazy talk from a guy who doesn’t understand where the holes really ar, IMO. Remember when Quinn had JFJ on the fist line? That worked out really well. Grit is great, but the guy needs to be able to play some hockey too.

  • Citizen David

    This seems to be our Stanley Cup each and every year.

    I for one will be watching closely as I’m starting to think RK’s system of play may be more of an issue than the players, type of players, size of the players, etc.

    If our guys light it up and play well, all eyes should be focused on our “motivational speaker turned coach.

    • Mike Krushelnyski

      Especially if they play well under Ruff…a guy who is available. All defences of Ralph Kruger aside, and I’m sure there are valid ones, there is no reason why the Oilers shouldn’t be courting Tippet and maybe Ruff to the same extent that we did Justin Schultz.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Dubnyk has been given plenty of time to show to Edmonton management and fans that he is a legitimate #1 NHL goaltender. I could not honestly say he has done that. If he had why would MacT be even looking at upgrading that position? I think an upgrade is needed. You can spit out whatever numbers you’d like regarding how great he is, but when I watch him give up the bad goal every second game that kills an already bad team, it proves he isn’t capable.

    I understand he doesn’t have a great team in front of him. Neither does Mike Smith, yet the Coyotes made it to the Conference Finals last year. If you don’t think Mike Smith is an upgrade, and a necessary upgrade, then I’m not sure you understand where all the holes are.

    And yes there are lots of holes on this team. I would say defenseman first. Lack of size in the top six, second. Goaltending third. Still a hole, however. Unless MacT does something “bold” this offseason, we may be looking at another disappointing season next year.

    • cabaj

      How do you like these numbers:

      Dubnyk had a .920 save % on a team with arguably the worst defensive team in the league that allows the 2nd most shots/game.

      If he were in net for the Kings, he’d likely have a save % closer to .93 and would unanimously be considered a top 10 goalie in the league.

      Dubnyk’s save % has consistently gotten better every year he’s been in the league.

      Mike Smith’s save % is .912 with a far better defensive team in front of him than Dubnyk.

      Dubnyk is not a problem. He is not a hole. He is a bright spot.

    • Citizen David

      Everyone talks about the save % and the shots but playing goal you have to be mentally tougher than DD has shown, he is getting better but soft goals are back breakers for a young team.I do think this team would be better with a #1 & 1A. PLEASE DO NOT RESIGN THE BULIN WALL FOR ONE MORE YEAR!!!

  • 15w40

    Goaltending is the least of their worries at this point. Unless the goalies are supposed to start scoring for the team as well.

    This team is still basically in need of an overhaul. Close to 60% of the team needs to be turned over.

  • Any player who gets invited should accept unless they have an injury. Players need to experience a more competitive climate and they can learn from other players over there. The more hockey that players can play, the better they will become. There will be plenty of time for rest and golf in the summer.

    I say this every year but hopefully this is the last time that the Oilers send a bunch of players to the World Championships for a long time.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Cabaj: as I stated in my earlier post- you can spit out whatever numbers you want that make you feel good and point to Dubnyk as the next Hasek, but the fact of the matter is Dubnyk has not proven to anyone that he is a bona fida NHL starter. One that you can rest your laurels on to take you to the playoffs, and then one day (one would hope) the Stanley Cup. He has trouble just keeping the softies from going in, during absolute nothing games.

    To try and say that this player, would do that, on that team, is absolutely rediculous. If Dubey let in the soft goals that he does, while playing for the Kings, Johnathon Bernier would be starting so fast your head would spin. The difference being Edmonton is trying their absolute best to give Dubnyk the starting role, and after a 2 and a half year trial run, its apparent that he isn’t capable. Maybe its mental. Maybe its his angles, but he has not taken control of a great opportunity and now management is looking to upgrade. Maybe he is meant to be a 1A guy?

    To say goaltending isn’t an issue on this team is misleading. Sure the team is horrible, but some of that honus does belong to the men between the pipes. That softy from along the goal line or squeeker five-hole has killed this fragile team many, many times over the past few seasons. Bright spot. Not so much. Not the biggest hole, no doubt, but still a hole.

    • cabaj

      I spit those stats at you precisely because your ignorance begged it of me.

      You simply cannot argue against the logic of those numbers. Whether or not the ones he lets in are soft or hard, the save percentage does not lie.

      The goals you are calling soft are either hiccups or due to his lack of speed. A guy like Bernier makes faster and more spectacular saves than Dubnyk simply because he is quicker. Dubnyk plays a different game, he leverages his size and does it well.

      It may be that for every soft goal he lets, in he makes up for it by stopping a couple other shots that another goalie would let through. But it really doesn’t matter how he gets his save %…. the net effect is that he has a great save %.

      There is nothing misleading about this. To assume his save % would increase if he had a better defensive team in front of him is far from ridiculous. What IS RIDICULOUS is that you insist on trusting your ill-informed amateur instinct rather than accepting facts. Its very tambellini-esque of you.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Cabaj- ok….I’m the ignorant one. Sure.

    I wasn’t aware that because you could look up a goalies save % it made you a professional at diagnosing a goaltender. And because I watch how a goalie plays, reacts, responds to situations, body language et cetera, makes me a amateur??

    Maybe the fact that I played WHL and pro hockey my whole life gives me the notion of what a good goalie looks like. you sitting on your laptop that whole time doesn’t mean you have any idea what your talking about!!

    • Cowbell_Feva

      Statistics catalyse false/positive read and reacts when used outside of internal systemic analysis,as many teams use them.

      Systemiclly stats can be analysed internally to validate Intuitive Dynamic Analysis.

      Dubbys going down to early on the mid-range wristers.Our system doesnt police the mid-range zone aggressively and Dubby is vulnerable to shots from there,opponents keyed in so hard it will take a system adustment to fix the issue now.

      Switch to an aggressive stand-up defense ,Dubby will not see so many of these shots.Many of the goals that sank The Goodship Dubby were mid-range wrister released immediatly after a controlled o-zone transition.Opponents were greelit to just step into the zone and smoke shots at him .The system needs to reply to that or we need a tender with a different style,coaches call.

      Dubby delivers,he has an individual style like everyone else,he isnt god and if he doesnt fit he will do very well wherever he plays.I believe he is a starter,as much as I believe we need to get a proven winner to be taken seriously as contenders or even as a playoff team.If we can afford to keep Dubby and a premier top 5 goalie great but unless we are getting a top 5 guy Dubby will do nicely.