Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Could hell have finally frozen over and formed an ice rink?

Perhaps. According to both the Toronto Star and Toronto Sun, the sides will meet again this week to hammer out the final details on a new CBA.
It is clear that the union has lost in this agreement and they will have to accept a new deal which is substantially less than even the deal which was offered to them in March.
Pay cuts, salary caps and linkage will all be in the new deal.
-Referenced from www.sportsnet.ca
What does this mean to the status of Bob Goodenow as the Leader of the NHLPA?

Monday, May 23, 2005

Report: NHL wants deal by mid-June?

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has a drop dead date in mind for the upcoming NHL season, according to a report by Sun Media. A story in Saturday's Ottawa Sun cited league sources who said if a new CBA is not in place by mid June, the NHL may cancel next season and scrap negotiations altogether until the union accepts the league's terms. The news comes amid reports that major sponsors have told the league they will take their money elsewhere if there is no labor agreement by June 15. The league and the NHL Players' Association met for eight hours in New York on Friday, a day after sitting in a boardroom for 14 hours and word from within was that some progess was made. Both sides have the weekend off before Bettman and NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow decide when talks will resume next week.

New offer to take over NHL?

The deal would have to be approved by the owners of all 30 NHL teams.
Sportsnet.ca -- Bloomberg Business News is reporting that a new offer, worth more than $4 billion, has been made for the purchase of the entire National Hockey League.  Bain Capital LLC, which made a $3.5-billion offer for the NHL in March, has reportedly raised its bid, although a spokesman for the league categorically refused to confirm the new bid.  "I will not confirm any aspect of what you're reporting," League spokesman Frank Brown was quoted as saying.  Bloomberg reports that Bain has proposed operating the 30-team league with a single owner, which may help drive down player salaries and boost profitability, and that all NHL owners would have to agree for the offer to be accepted.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Crosby lottery proposal to be discussed?

If NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has his way, this year's NHL draft will be based on past history, reports the Edmonton Sun.
Sources told the Sun that Bettman will convince the board of governors to adopt a system for the draft that will be based on how teams finished over the course of the last three years.

The lottery system, simply, would be a team gets a ball for every year it has missed the playoffs in the past three years. Therefore, teams such as the New York Rangers would get three balls, whereas teams such as Edmonton would receive two for missing the playoffs twice.
Every team would be guaranteed at least one ball in the draft so everyone has a small chance at landing the big prize Sidney Crosby.

2005 Memorial Cup Predictions

In seasons past, it's that time when junior hockey takes a back seat to the NHL playoffs. But this year, they will be centre stage in hockey loving Canada. And what a year to do it with the 'Next One' Sidney Crosby in the final four. My prediction is a London Knights championship, but they will be hard-pressed by Crosby led attack from the Rimouski Oceanic.

2005 NHL Entry Draft

Two scenarios I have heard are:
1 - Every team has the same chance (1 lottery ball per team)
2 - Weighted lottery based on the teams perfomance and playoff history the last 4 years. For example, the NY Rangers will 4 lottery balls (missed last 4 playoffs), while the Maple Leafs would have only one (the made the playofss each of the last 4 yrs), and a team like the Montreal Calgary Flames would get 3 ( they only made the playoffs 1 in 4 years) In addition to the these 2 scenarios, the word is the may flip and reverse the order every round (i.e.) Leafs pick #30 in round 1(last pick of round 1), and #31 in round 2 (first pick of the 2nd round).

What would I pick?
I would pick scenario #1. Why you ask? Simple, it would casue an enormous amount of excitement for the NHL and would potentially spark a lot of trades and shuffling around in the draft order.

Crosby sweepstakes...interesting draft possibilities

A couple of potential draft formats for the 2005 Entry Draft have come up in recent days. I think it is fair to say that keeping the same draft order as 2004 will not be fair, nor make any sense due to the fact that last season was cancelled. I mean there could have been the chance tha the Washington Capitals finished first overall followed by the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Red Wings finish 30th overall. Very unlikely, but the chance of it happening is always there.
So, the two scenarios I have heard are:
1 - Every team has the same chance (1 lottery ball per team)
2 - Weighted lottery based on the teams perfomance and playoff history the last 4 years.
For example, the NY Rangers will 4 lottery balls (missed last 4 playoffs), while the Maple Leafs would have only one (the made the playofss each of the last 4 yrs), and a team like the Montreal Calgary Flames would get 3 ( they only made the playoffs 1 in 4 years)
In addition to the these 2 scenarios, the word is the may flip and reverse the order every round (i.e.) Leafs pick #30 in round 1(last pick of round 1), and #31 in round 2 (first pick of the 2nd round).

NHL and NHLPA discuss revenues

Both sides spent the day going through team and league revenues and will start up talks again early Wednesday morning.
The NHL and NHLPA will convene without Gary Bettman, who will join fellow commissioners Bud Selig of Major League Baseball, David Stern of the NBA and Paul Tagliabue of the NFL in Washington to participate in a Congressional hearing regarding standard doping tests in sports in the United States.
On April 4, the union rejected a pair of proposals by the league, both of which included a salary cap and one introducing linkage of players' salaries to league revenue. However, the NHLPA later countered with a plan involving a floating team-by-team payroll with a floor of $30 million and a ceiling of $50 million. The sides met again on April 19.
Bettman cancelled the 2004-05 campaign on February 16, making the NHL the first major North American sports league to have an entire season canceled due to a labor dispute.
After convening with the NHL's Board of Governors last month, Bettman announced the league would not resume play until a CBA was in place, erasing the belief replacement players would be used for the 2005-06 campaign. In March, the league officially cancelled the 2005 draft, which was slated to take place in Ottawa in June.

2005 NHL Hall Of Fame Inductees

Players who have been passed over in previous years will get a long look from the Hockey Hall of Fame when it meets June 8. This year, the most worthy first-year eligibles are goaltenders Mike Vernon and John Vanbiesbrouck,

defenceman Gary Suter and forward Kevin Stevens. Vernon stands the best chance. The Calgarian won the Stanley Cup with the Flames in 1989 and with Detroit in 1997.FULL STORY...
The list also includes Rick Tocchet, Pat Verbeek, Stephane Richer, Ray Ferraro, Bob Probert, Dave Manson, Benoit Hogue, Dmitri Khristich, Michel Petit and Joe Reekie.
-Referenced from www.tsn.ca

Leafs looking at Swedish forward

There may be no NHL but that doesn't mean there's no scouting.According to the Toronto Star, the Toronto Maple Leafs are interested in Swedish forward Mikael Samuelsson.There were reports in a Swedish newspaper yesterday that after the lockout the Leafs will sign Samuelsson, a 29-year-old journeyman defensive specialist who played with the Florida Panthers in 2003-04. Samuelsson played for Sweden which finished fourth in the tournament.
-Referenced from www.sportsnet.ca

Friday, May 13, 2005

Kessel a shining star for U.S.A.

Phil Kessel's stock has risen to the top of the 2006 NHL draft charts after his dominating performance at the world under-18 hockey championship. The 17-year-old forward from Madison, Wis., was considered a highly rated NHL prospect after the world under-20 tournament in Grand Forks, N.D., in January, when he scored a couple of spectacular end-to-end goals and stood out among players older than him. But Kessel was head and shoulders the best player at the world under-18 tournament last month in Plsen, Czech Republic, where he led the U.S. to a gold medal with nine goals and seven assists in six games. He had two goals, including an empty-netter, and two assists in a 5-1 win over Canada in the final and was chosen the top forward of the tournament by the International Ice Hockey Federation. It's been a breakout season for the six-foot, 185-pound forward, but Kessel shrugs it off with the nonchalance of the unduly gifted athlete.

NHLPA cancels players meeting next week

The NHL Players' Association has cancelled a membership meeting scheduled for later this month because there has been little change in negotiations with the NHL on a new collective bargaining agreement. The timing is somewhat curious as the league and the union are slated to have three more days of talks next week in New York.  FULL STORY...

Thursday, May 12, 2005

GM denies report that The Great One to coach...well not exactly

PHOENIX (CP) - Phoenix Coyotes general manager Mike Barnett denied a report Tuesday that Wayne Gretzky is poised to take over as head coach of the team.

In an interview with FAN 590 sports radio in Toronto, Barnett said nothing was imminent despite a report in Arizona's East Valley Tribune newspaper suggesting Gretzky and the team had reached an agreement on a three-year contract extension.
"There is not an announcement pending, I can tell you that from within our organization," said Barnett. "When an announcement is made, it'll be because Wayne and his partner (chairman and governor) Steve Ellman have something to announce.
"At this point, I think whatever appears to have got a life as a story is a little bit erroneous."
The Tribune, citing "well-placed NHL sources," says Gretzky, who is part-owner of the NHL club, will officially be introduced as head coach later this week.
Barnett told the FAN Gretzky hasn't ruled out the possibility of taking over coaching duties when the NHL resumes.
"I think it's intrigued him to the point that to this stage, he has again not yet said that it's out of the question as a no," Barnett said.
Gretzky said last month he would be reluctant to take over as head coach if the NHL decides to open next season with replacement players.
-Referenced from www.sportsnet.ca

More than just salary caps discussed by NHL owners and players

NEW YORK (AP) - For a change, the NHL and the locked-out players' association talked about more than just salary caps Wednesday.
In an unexpected second straight day of labour negotiations, the league and the union branched out into other discussions, such as the potential formation of a competition committee that would be comprised of player and team representatives, NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly said in a statement.
The players' association didn't immediately comment or respond to an e-mail sent by The Associated Press following the ninth bargaining session since commissioner Gary Bettman called off the entire 2004-05 season on Feb. 16.
"Among the topics covered this morning were various accounting issues relating to the calculation of club payroll in the context of a new economic system," Daly said. (FULL STORY)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Slovakia provides next test

After barely squeaking by Ukraine in the final group game Canada cannot afford to underestimate another small European nation when they take on Slovakia in the quarter-finals.
INNSBRUCK, Austria (CP) -- Rick Nash's hot hand gave Canada a 2-1 win over Ukraine at the IIHF world hockey championship Tuesday but there's a more daunting opponent on the horizon.

Full Details
A report card look at Team Canada

EA Sports lands Lecavalier for NHL 2006

Season or no season, EA Sports has signed Tampa Bay Lightning forward Vincent Lecavalier to be the cover athlete for its popular video game NHL 2006.  It will be the 14th season of EA's NHL franchise.  "I am very excited about being a member of the EA Sports team," Lecavalier said in a statement Thursday. "I grew up playing EA Sports games and to be a part of NHL 06 now is a great honor." Other NHL players who have graced the cover include Chris Pronger, Owen Nolan, Jarome Iginla, Dany Heatley, Joe Sakic and Markus Naslund.
"Our focus for EA's NHL 06 was on game play and letting the superstars shine," said EA Sports marketing director Brian Coleman.  
"We feel strongly that Vincent Lecavalier is the perfect spokesman for our game as he is a highly skilled playmaker and scorer. We are very impressed with his on-ice success and the type of character person he is off of the ice. We're really excited to have Vincent join our NHL '06 team."  After helping lead the Lightning to the Stanley Cup last June, Lecavalier was named World Cup MVP while helping Canada win the gold. He then went to play for AK Bars Kazan of the Russian Elite League during the lockout.
-Referenced from www.tsn.ca

Crosby to be a Leaf....well, not exactly.

Teen phenom Sidney Crosby could be dressing for the Leafs next season.  Well, sort of.  The Toronto Star reports that the Maple Leafs have approached Crosby with the possibility of playing for the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League in the fall.  Crosby's agent Pat Brisson told the paper that the Marlies are a possibility for Crosby, but did not say whether he has talked to Leafs general manager John Ferguson Jr. 
"There's always a possibility, assuming the lockout continues and there's no NHL, that the American Hockey League will be an option," Brisson told the Star. 
"And the Toronto Marlies are perhaps a better option within the American Hockey League."   Ferguson said the Leafs are also interested.   "I couldn't imagine a better destination should he choose to play somewhere other than the National Hockey League," Ferguson told the National Post and The Fan 590 on Thursday.  
Files from The Toronto Star were used for this report.
-Referenced from www.tsn.ca

NHL and NHLPA to meet on Tuesday

It's difficult to tell whether two days of relatively brief meetings have the NHL and NHL Players' Association any closer to a new CBA, but the two sides will get together on Tuesday in New York City for another negotiating session. TSN's Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie explains.  FULL STORY...
-Referenced from www.tsn.ca

Crosby about to reach Memorial Cup

One more win for the Oceanic will put Canada's most recognized junior player in his first Memorial Cup.
HALIFAX (CP) -- The outlook looks awfully grim for the Halifax Mooseheads now.The Mooseheads dropped a heartbreaking 5-4 decision to the Rimouski Oceanic Monday night at the Metro Centre to fall behind 3-0 in the best-of-seven Quebec Major Junior Hockey League final.
Crosby weakness?: Growing a playoff beard
Full Details
-Referenced from www.sportsnet.ca

Monday, May 09, 2005

Late goals help Canada escape with tie

By Alan Adams, www.sportsnet.ca
INNSBRUCK, Austria -- Everyone knows Rick Nash can score. And now there is little doubt that his leadership skills are second to none.  Team Canada was a little sluggish for the first half of Sunday's game against Finland. They looked tired. They were playing a key game less than 17 hours after losing to Sweden in what was their worst performance since the team was formed almost a month ago.  Nash came over the boards and rammed a couple of his opponents up against the glass in their end of the ice and he lit the proverbial fire under the Canadians. The Finns were ahead 2-0 at the time and the Canadians ended up rallying for a 3-3 qualifying round result at the world hockey championship.  FULL STORY

Daly blasts NHLPA

By Darren Dreger, www.sportsnet.ca
Following two days of meetings in Toronto, the NHLPA issued a report to its membership, a communication which the NHL also got its hands on, sparking a sharp retort from the NHL's Bill Daly.  "If what has been forwarded to me is accurate, its very disappointing, to say the least," Daly said in a communication to Sportsnet. "Bob and I must have attended different meetings, since virtually none of the PA's version of events actually transpired."  FULL STORY

Saturday, May 07, 2005

NHL includes stiff luxury tax in latest proposal

After meeting for several hours again on Friday, the two sides hope to continue discussions next Tuesday. The National Hockey League tabled a proposal in Thursday's latest round of lockout negotiations with the Players' Associaton, sources told Rogers Sportsnet. The proposal is believed to include a stiff luxury tax system, with a tax structure adjustable to accommodate the rate and threshold on how the proposed CBA would be working. There is speculation among hockey circles of a dollar-for-dollar tax with revenue sharing among the NHL generated from this system. The luxury tax would trigger a hard cap agreement that is expected to come in with a floor of $25-million and a ceiling below $35-million.

-Referencedf rom www.sportsnet.ca

2006 Winter Olympics - Backup plan for Team Canada

If there is no collective bargaining agreement to end the NHL lockout by the end of the world championship, Hockey Canada will hold a training camp in June for non-NHLers in preparation for the Winter Games.  That's the word according to Hockey Canada President Bob Nicholson, who Friday outlined plans for preparing for the Winter Games in Turin, Italy, in February.  Crosby team checking legal options
Nicholson said Hockey Canada has three plans in preparing for the Winter Games. One includes top NHL players. The second is a Team Canada minus NHL stars. The third is a hybrid of NHLers without contracts along with Canadians in Europe.  About three dozen Canadians playing overseas will be invited to Edmonton, and there is a chance that top junior players like Sidney Crosby, Dion Phaneuf and Jeff Carter will be asked to attend.  FULL STORY By Alan Adams (www.sportsnet.ca)

How Swede it is...for Sweden that is

http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/article.jsp;jsessionid=KGPBNNKKFKIA?content=20050507_180215_4864 INNSBRUCK, Austria -- It's no wonder the Canadians talked about having a sour taste in their mouths after they lost 5-4 to Sweden in the qualification round at the world hockey championship on Saturday.  They served up a lemon.  The Canadians blew leads of 2-0 and 3-1. They took lazy penalties. They stopped skating and at times they sucked wind in a large way. Then there's the fact that Marty Brodeur looked human, but it wasn't his fault his defence abandoned him for the most part.  FULL STORY by Alan Adams ( www.sportsnet.ca)

Friday, May 06, 2005

Scores from Austria, May 5 2005

Yesterdays results from Austria are as follows:
Czech Rep. 1, Kazakhstan 0, Slovenia 1, Latvia 3, Germany 1, Switzerland 5, and the BIG ONE...Canada 3, United States 1.

Brodeur sets the tone early

INNSBRUCK, Austria (CP) - When Martin Brodeur flashed the leather on Jeff Halpern from in-close early in the first period Thursday, the United States should have packed up and gone home.  Brodeur wasn't going to let the U.S. take this one, no matter how much they threw at him.  Full Story
-Referenced from www.tsn.ca

Nash dominating World Championships

Teammates and opponents alike are impressed at the skill of Canada's 20-year-old scoring star Rick Nash. He scored two goals and assisted on another by Joe Thornton as Canada defeated the United States 3-1 on Thursday for its third straight victory at the IIHF world hockey championship. Nash has six goals in three games to lead all scorers at the tournament.
-Referenced from www.tsn.ca

Thursday, May 05, 2005

2005 World Championships scores for May 4th

Here are your scores for yesterdays matches:
Russia 2, Belarus 0, Ukraine 2, Denmark 1, Slovakia 8, Austria 1, Sweden 5, Finland 1.
Todays's matches are:
Czech Rep. vs Kazakhstan, Slovenia vs Latvia, Germany vs Switzerland, and the BIG ONE...Canada vs United States

Burke to Anaheim

TSN hockey analyst and former Vancouver Canucks general manager Brian Burke is hopeful that an interview with proposed new Mighty Ducks ownership will lead to him becoming the team's new GM. "I'm definitely interested in the job," Burke told the Vancouver Province on Tuesday.  According to reports, other candidates considered are Kings assistant GM Kevin Gilmore, former San Jose Sharks general manager Dean Lombardi, and former Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks GM Mike Smith.  FULL STORY...

Sheddon and staff canned from Baby Leafs coaching staff

TORONTO (CP) -- The St. John's Maple Leafs have fired their coaching staff.  Toronto Maple Leafs GM John Ferguson announced Wednesday the contracts of head coach Doug Shedden and assistants Kevin McClelland and Russ Adam would not be renewed for the club's farm team.  Shedden met with Ferguson on Tuesday and was told his contract would not be renewed when it expired July 1. There had been speculation that McClelland may stay with the club.
"I understand that I wasn't (Ferguson's) guy and if I was in that position I'd probably do the same thing," Shedden told the Toronto Star. "But I thought that as a coaching staff we did a hell of a job with what we had to work with and that we definitely overachieved this year.  "A lot of people were amazed with our record (46-28-1-5)."  Shedden became the club's sixth head coach when he was hired June 24, 2003. Prior to joining the Maple Leafs, he coached the Memphis RiverKings of the CHL, the Flint Generals of the UHL, the Louisiana IceGators of the ECHL, and the CHL's Wichita Thunder.  Former Maple Leafs captain Doug Gilmour and Peter DeBoer, the coach-general manager of the OHL's Kitchener Rangers, are rumoured to be in the running for the vacant head coaching job
-Referenced from www.sportsnet.ca.

OHL Panel allows exemption for 15 year old phenom John Tavares

TORONTO (CP) - John Tavares, the 14-year-old Toronto hockey star, has been granted his request for exceptional player status and thus will be eligible for the OHL major junior draft on Saturday, the league announced Wednesday.  The Oshawa Generals have first pick and are expected to select the six-foot-one forward, who scored 83 goals and amassed 147 points in 77 games for his Toronto Marlies minor midget team this season. He also played 16 games for a provincial Jr. A team in nearby Milton and earned 23 points including 11 goals.  The OHL normally does not allow players under 15 to be drafted.  An OHL panel asked to rule on the Tavares request conducted extensive interviews, including sessions with the player, his mother, coach James Naylor and sports psychologist Paul Dennis.  The panel concluded that Tavares was an exceptional player "who possesses the maturity and strength to play in the Ontario Hockey League for the 2005-2006 season."
Tavares, the nephew of the pro lacrosse star of the same name, turns 15 next Sept. 27, when the next major junior season will be just underway.  The previous exception was made six years ago when Jason Spezza was allowed to play for the Brampton Battalion, under an OHL provision that stipulated an under-aged draftee had to play in his home town. There is no similar restriction on Tavares.  The panel was comprised of Kevin Burkett, a labour arbitrator and mediator and longtime hockey coach, Frank Bonello, director Central Scouting for the NHL, and retired NHL player Doug Gilmour.  International Scouting Services projects that Oshawa will select Tavares, the Sarnia Sting will take centre Logan Couture of the St. Thomas Jr. B club, the Saginaw Spirit will use the No. 3 spot to select left-winger Zac Torquato of Stratford, and Kingston, selecting fourth, will opt for Timmins defenceman Mark Katic.  ISS deems Tavares the most impressive prospect for pro success since Sidney Crosbie, who tore up the QMJHL this season.
-Referenced from www.sportsnet.ca

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

CFL unveils new jerseys for 2005

Sorry folks, here's another non-hockey related item.  But as before, it's in regards to another wonderful sport adored by many canadians - the CFL.
The CFL has unveiled brand new uniforms for each of the nine member teams for the 2005 season, following an 18-month design process.
The results, unveiled by Reebok and the league on Tuesday, indicate CFL players will look more like their NFL counterparts on the field.  (Complete Story)
-Referenced from www.tsn.ca

Team Canada Crush Slovenia 8-0

INNSBRUCK, Austria - The hill Team Canada has to climb at win a third straight World Championship pales in comparison to the majestic Alps that tower over this city which played host to the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics.  Just the same, the Canadians can't think for a second they don't have to crank it up a notch or two to make the journey a little easier.  They won their second game of the tournament Tuesday, beating Slovenia 8-0, beat that's it for downhill grades in the 16-team world tournament.  Next up is the United States in a big game on Thursday.  (More on this story...)
Elsewhere, it was the Czech Rep 2, Germany 0 and U.S.A. 3, Latvia 1.  Today's games include Russia v/s Belarus, Denmark v/s Ukraine, Austria v/s Slovakia, and a heated battle of long-time rivals, Sweden v/s Finland.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Vancouver 2010 Canadian Olympic Hockey Team

Hi folks, with the 2005 World Championships providing the exciting high-scoring international hockey we love so dearly, I thought why not think ahead a little to the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, BC. 
I know we are looking past the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy.  But the team in 2006 will not look much different than what we saw in 2004.  The 2010 games will feature younger Canadian stars with new veterans such as Thornton, Iginla, Jovanovski, and players entering their prime like Lecavalier, St. Louis, and Heatley.  And of course, how can we forget today's Junior Hockey phenom, Sidney Crosby.  By then he will definitely be the one Team Canada will be looking to lead Hockey Canada on the world stage right here in our home country of Canada where hockey is religion.
In the coming days I will put together a Team Canada roster for both the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy and the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.

NHL & NHLPA back to the boardroom on Thursday

The NHL and NHL Players' Association will resume collective bargaining negotiations on Thursday and Friday in Toronto. 
Sources told TSN it doesn't look as though NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will be called to the U.S. Congressional hearings on the use of steroids in sports on Thursday, so the league can proceed with its originally scheduled negotiating session with the NHLPA.  Sources say two more bargaining sessions are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday (May 9 and 10) of next week in New York City before representatives from both sides go to Austria for the world championship. No meetings are currently scheduled to take place in Austria, but the two sides are slated to get back together again May 18 and 19 in Toronto.  The NHLPA has scheduled a membership meeting, where hundreds of players are expected to attend, for May 24 in Toronto.
-Referenced from www.tsn.ca

Viktor Kozlov's late goal ties Slovakia

(CP) - Viktor Kozlov's goal with 2:21 left to play lifted Russia to a 3-3 tie with Slovakia at the world hockey championship Monday.  Lubomir Visnovsky's power-play goal 1:27 into the third period had given the Slovaks a 3-2 lead. They also led 2-0 midway through the game on goals by Zigmund Palffy and Marian Hossa, only to watch Russia rally back from that.  The teams are now both 1-0-1 and tied atop Pool A.  At Vienna, Ivan Nepryaev, just 22 seconds after Slovakia went up 2-0, and Andrei Markov also scored for Russia.  Goalie Jan Lasak finished with 28 saves for Slovakia while Maxim Sokolov stopped 19 shots for Russia.
Elsewhere at the world championship Monday, it was: Finland 4, Ukraine 1.  At Innsbruck, Austria, Antti-Jussi Niemi, Ville Peltonen and Kimmo Timonen staked Finland to a 3-0 lead and they held on for their second victory of the tournament.  Jukka Hentunen scored late in the third period for Finland (2-0).  Sergii Varlamov pulled Ukraine to 3-1 with his goal late in the second. It was a rare bit of offence for Ukraine (0-2), which managed only 21 shots against goaltender Niklas Backstrom.  Only 50 saves from Kostyantyn Simchuk kept the game close.
Elsewhere, it was Belarus 5, Austria 0, and Sweden 7, Denmark 0.
For more statisitcs see, 2005 World Championship Stats.
-Referenced from www.tsn.ca

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Kopitar Effect

Stacking up on NHLers like Kyle Calder and Scott Thornton SEL's Sodertalje has pretty much decided the fate of stud prospects Nicklas Bergfors and Anze Kopitar for the rest of the season. The two projected first round selections in the upcoming NHL entry draft have been settling in comfortably with the Sodertalje junior club where the dynamic Kopitar has already bagged 26 markers in 29 games (now top scoring junior in the league). We have notes on these two studs and other impressive juniors in the system.
Anze Kopitar (2005), C, Sodertalje
Living up to all the hype but he is more raw than the stats would show .. an excellent stickhandler who glides through defenses with a big reach, reminiscent of Jaromir Jagr .. soft hands, crisp passes .. a natural playmaker who sees the ice very well and can run the power play with his hands and savvy .. one thing that he lacks is quickness as his first few strides are a bit heavy but he moves smoothly enough and can generate pretty good speed once he gets going .. has a very sharp mind; reacts very well to game flow, breaks up plays defensively by being at the right place at the right time by virtue of his positional know-how .. puck protection skills are good but he is not always adequate physically, frequently getting outmuscled even by smaller opponents .. must be more proactive with using his frame in traffic .. quick release on the wrist shot .. very determined around the crease area and keeps his stick low to the ice in anticipation of the pass .. has a scorer's mentality; loves to shoot .. very special but should be handled with care.
-Referenced from http://mckeenshockey.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=393403 (Article by Jante Abrahamsson)

Swedish Prospects

Tony Lagerstrom (2006), C/W, Sodertalje
A name to remember for the 2006 draft .. a steady presence on the U-18 national team despite his 88-birthdate .. lively skater with a decent top speed and sharp turns but could strengthen his legs .. good stickhandler with nifty changes of pace .. strong work ethic and maturity for his age .. takes care of defensive duties and makes smart decisions .. shooting is a weakness as his shots lack both speed and accuracy .. good passing skills but does not have playmaking tendencies, with the mentality of teammate Kopitar but without the shooting skills.
Linus Videll (Col), RW, Sodertalje
Lockout victim is stuck in the junior ranks .. his experience shows as he is able to take control of the play physically and on the puck .. strong puck protection skills, excellent balance and rarely loses puck battles .. beginning to grow into his frame whereas before he was 13 going on 30 .. good puck skills, decent hands and drives the net .. decent top speed but does not have a great overall gear .. goes through the motions defensively, often lacking commitment in his own end of the ice .. clearly not content playing a level down.
Nicklas Bergfors (2005), RW, Sodertalje
Treat to watch with linemates Kopitar and Lagerstrom .. his team's top offensive threat game in and game out .. excellent skater, slippery and deadly explosive at the right moments .. deceptive, quick wrist shots .. should shoot more .. has breakaway speed .. elite stickhandling moves and imagination .. took an ill-advised checking-from-behind penalty in a tie game late in the match .. like Videll, he would prefer to skate in the SEL at this time.
Johan Andersson (2005), RW/C, Sodertalje
Slightly undersized forward centers the club's second line .. scoring at a consistent scoring pace .. weak physically and was neutralized along the boards frequently .. creative with the puck and an effective playmaker when he has the time and space to make plays .. has late round upside but must add serious bulk and jam.

U.S. slams Slovenia,Czech beat Swedes

(CP) - Mike Knuble scored twice and Rick DiPietro made 15 saves for the shutout as the United States coasted to a 7-0 victory over Slovenia at the world hockey championship Sunday.  Knuble opened the scoring just 31 seconds into the contest, converting Erik Cole's cross-ice feed on a 2-on-1, as the U.S. controlled the match from start to finish.  DiPietro had little to do in goal and was rarely tested while Slovenian netminder Robert Kristan was bombarded with 38 shots, several of them coming during odd-man rushes.
Elsewhere at the world championship Sunday, it was: Czech Republic 3, Switzerland 1; Sweden 3, Ukraine 2; and Kazakhstan 2, Germany 1.  At Innsbruck, Austria, Adam Hall, Mark Parrish, Jeff Halpern, Brian Gionta and Yan Stastny, the son of former Quebec Nordiques great Peter Stastny, also scored for the United States.
Czech Republic 3, Switzerland 1.  At Vienna, Vaclav Prospal scored early in the first period and assisted on Jaromir Jagr's goal less than three minutes later to help the Czechs open with a win.  Prospal beat Martin Gerber at 4:52 and Jagr did the same at 7:31, with assists from Pavel Kubina on both goals, to give the Czechs a lead they wouldn't relinquish.  Severin Blindenbacher replied for Switzerland at 12:42 of the first but Frantisek sealed things with a goal 5:56 into the third period.  Tomas Vokoun stopped 22 shots for the win while Gerber made 38 saves in the loss.
Sweden 3, Ukraine 2.  At Innsbruck, Daniel Alfredsson scored the winner at 10:08 of the third period to lift Sweden.  Magnus Kahnberg and Kenny Jonsson scored 3:50 apart early in the first period to give Sweden a 2-0 lead before Bogdan Savenko and Sergei Klymenyev replied in the second frame for Ukraine.  Henrik Lundqvist made 15 saves for the win while Kostyantyn Simchuk stopped 44 shots in a strong effort for Ukraine.
Kazakhstan 2, Germany 1.  At Vienna, Dmitri Upper and Yevgeniy Koreshkov scored first-period goals while Vitaliy Kolesnik made 32 saves as Kazakhstan held on.  Tomas Martinec scored late in the second period for Germany, which got 16 saves from Oliver Jonas.
-Referenced from www.sportsnet.ca

The Slovene One - The Slovanian Crsoby

INNSBRUCK, Austria -- Remember the name Anze Kopitar.
Scouts have been watching Slovenia's version of Sidney Crosby for years and now the teenaged Kopitar is getting ready to test his wares against Canada at the world hockey championship.  Slovenia plays Canada on Tuesday and Kopitar wants nothing more than to score a goal against the two-time defending world champions.  It will be a tough test for the prospect who is pegged to go in the top-12 draft picks if the NHL and NHLPA resolve their differences and have a draft.
The Slovenes are in over their head but that won't stop Kopitar from trying his best.  "It would be great to score against Canada and all those NHL stars," he says.  Team USA ripped Slovenia 7-0 on Sunday. Kopitar's effort was noticeable and he showed flashes of why he makes scouts drool.
Kopitar clearly enjoyed being on the same ice with NHL players. He was thrilled with the chance of taking a face-off against Mike Modano of the Dallas Stars and challenging Aaron Miller of the Los Angeles Kings on defence.  "We are not scared of nobody and we will do better,' he said. "It was nice to play against the United States and it was a really good experience and hopefully we will do better against Canada. They are even a stronger team but we have to go into the game like normal and we can't be afraid.
"To play all the NHL stars, it will be a fun experience for everybody. I'm looking forward to seeing (Dany) Heatley and (Rick) Nash."  Slovenia isn't a hotbed of hockey and only one Slovene - Edo Terglav - has ever been drafted by an NHL club. He was the 249th overall pick by Buffalo in 1998 and he now plays in France where lives with his Canadian wife.  Kopitar started playing when he was four years old and the biggest influence on him has been his father, Matjaz Kopitar, a former national team member who is an assistant coach here at the world tournament.
Last year, Kopitar moved to Sweden and signed with the Sodertalje club team. He won the Swedish junior league scoring championship and the '06 world tournament is his third major international event this year. He played in the second tier World U18 and World U20 tournaments and was selected as the tournament MVP in each.  "My year was a good year," said the soft-spoken Kopitar. "I had a lot of games (in the Swedish Elite League) and hopefully it will help me at the NHL draft."
Kopitar is the top-ranked European in the NHL's rankings and other independent lists have him anywhere from the sixth best prospect in the draft to the 10th.  He says he owed a lot to his father.  "I watched my dad throughout his career. I watched him so much that I started to play like him. But he is a winger and I am a centre."  There were kids in the stands cheering for their hero. They'd sing "Anze, Anze" when they noticed he was on the ice against the United States. Slovenia borders Austria and a couple of hundred fans are here hoping for the best.
Kopitar is modest about his popularity.  "I am not so popular. Hockey is popular but soccer, basketball and handball are more popular."  But that could change if Slovenia's Sidney Crosby makes it big in the NHL like the scouts are projecting.
-Referenced from www.sportsnet.ca (By Alan Adams)

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Kovalev wins it late for Russians

VIENNA (CP) - Alexei Kovalev scored the winner with 3:32 left in the third period to help Russia beat host-nation Austria 4-2 Saturday at the world hockey championship.
Raimund Divis' goal at 7:07 of the third period tied the game at 2-2 for Austria but Russia avoided the upset on Kovalev's goal at 16:18.Atlanta Thrashers sniper Ilya Kovalchuk sealed it with an empty-netter at 19:51.
"We had a good start into the match, but failed to close the game early," Russian coach Vladimir Krikunov said.  "Nonetheless, we got the win and that's all that matters. After all, our aim is to win gold and that is only possible by defeating everyone in our way."  Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Kharitonov, with a short-handed goal, also scored for the Russians.Oliver Setzinger also scored for Austria.  Maxim Sokolov stopped 23 shots for the win while Bernd Brueckler made 32 saves in the loss.  Despite losing, Austria received a standing ovations from a capacity crowd of nearly 10,000.  "It always looks unlucky to miss a tie if you come so close," said Austrian coach Herbert Poeck. "But the Russians dominated the first half of the game and so I was very happy with the way my team came back."
Elsewhere at the world hockey championship Saturday, it was: Slovakia 2, Belarus 1; and Finland 2, Denmark 1.
Later at Vienna, Marian Gaborik's goal at 16:32 of the third-period gave Slovakia the win, despite an outstanding effort by Belarussian goalie Andrei Mezin.  The Slovaks out shot Belarus 52-19 and didn't beat Mezin until 1:45 of the third period, when Marian Hossa opened the scoring.  Just 1:41 later, Konstantin Koltsov tied things up and Belarus looked set to ride their goalie to the draw until Gaborik's late goal.  Jan Lasak made 18 saves for Slovakia.
At Innsbruck, Niko Kapanen assisted on Jere Karalahti's first-period goal and scored the eventual winner 1:43 into the third frame to lead Finland.  Fredrik Norrena lost his shutout bid with 58 seconds left when Kasper Degn beat him. He finished with 14 saves.  Peter Hirsch kept Denmark in the game with a stellar effort, finishing with 30 saves.
-Referenced from www.sportsnet.ca

Canada over Lativia in a close one

INNSBRUCK, Austria -- It was down to a one-goal game and the fans were cheering "Latvia, Latvia, Latvia."
An upset was in the offing in Canada's opening game at the World Hockey Championship.
Nine minutes into the third period, Canada's three-goal lead over Latvia had shrunk to one and the two-time defending world champions looked a little on the ropes. They had lost the momentum and they knew it.
Brendan Morrison opened the scoring at 2:55 of the first on a power play when he moved in from the left point and ripped a slap shot to the top corner. The lead lasted less than a minute as only 34 seconds later, a turnover in Canada's zone allowed Latvia to tie it.
Nash then caused the turnover that let Simon Gagne set up Joe Thornton for a power play goal 7:49 into the second frame. Latvia tied it just over three minutes later and then Nash and Patrick Marleau scored at 15:32 and 16:50 respectively for what should have been a comfortable three goal cushion.
Morrison took a charging penalty at 5:40 of the third and Janis Sprunkts scored at 6:16. Nash followed with an elbowing penalty at 6:54 and six seconds after he returned to the ice, it was a one-goal game with penalty of time to get the equalizer thanks to a goal by Karlis Skrastins. Truth be known, the Canadian defence coughed the puck up in their own zone after they had a couple of chances to clear it and that led to the goals more so than the penalty by Nash.
Team Canada responded with a hard effort for the remainder of the game and Brodeur made key saves to keep the Latvians from issuing a postage stamp commemorating the event. Nash then completed the hat trick at 14:17 to give Canada breathing room.
-Referenced from www.sportsnet.ca (complete article written by Alan Adams)