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Scott Niedermayer, Dominik Hasek and Robert Reichel are among a class of seven to be inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame next May in Prague, the IIHF announced on its website Thursday.
Niedermayer, a four-time Stanley Cup champion with the New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Ducks, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013. A member of the Triple Gold club, he led Canada to the gold medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and 2010 Vancouver Olympics as well as the 1991 World Junior Championship and the 2004 World Championship. He also won the 2004 World Cup of Hockey with Canada.
Hasek, a member of the 2014 Hockey Hall of Fame class, may be best remembered in the Czech Republic for his performance at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, when he led his country with a shootout win against Canada in the semifinals and shut out Russia 1-0 in the gold-medal game. Hasek was one of the preeminent NHL goalies of his era, winning the Vezina Trophy six times, five with the Buffalo Sabres, and the Stanley Cup twice with the Detroit Red Wings.
Reichel, another Czech standout, was captain of the national team on eight occasions, starting with the 1990 World Junior Championship. He went on to win gold with the Czech Republic at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, where he had the decisive shootout goal against Canada in the semifinals, as well as the 1996, 2000 and 2001 World Championships. Reichel played 11 NHL seasons and was a two-time 40-goal scorer, finishing with 252 goals in his career.
The 2015 IIHF Hall of Fame class also features: Fran Rider as a Builder for her work in the creation of women's hockey at the international level; Maria Rooth, the catalyst for Sweden at the 2006 Turin Olympics as they upset the U.S. women in the semifinals en route to a silver medal; Lucio Topatigh, who played 20 seasons for Italy and will receive the Richard "Bibi" Torriani trophy; and Monique Scheier-Schneider of Luxembourg, who will be the 2015 recipient of the Paul Loicq Award.
"We are extremely proud of our newest class of inductees," IIHF President and Committee Chairman Rene Fasel said in a release on the federation's website. "These men and women have contributed to shaping our game through successful careers made possible by their determination to succeed and their dedication over a long period of time. They played at the highest level, and, in the case of Fran Rider, created the highest level. They represent the very essence as to why we have a Hall of Fame."
The new class will be inducted during the medal weekend of the 2015 World Championship.
Throughout the annals of hockey history there have been a number of interesting personalities both on and off the ice, from players to coaches to front office and staff members. However, one of the most fascinating story tellers in the past 40 years who seemingly pops up in international hockey every decade or so was back in Budapest, Hungary, during the international break in November.
Lou Vairo is back again, this time with the Italian Ice Hockey Association. After working with the U.S. and Dutch men’s national teams in the past, Vairo, while still working for USA Hockey, joined the Italians in an advisory capacity as they are building a “made in Italy” grassroots program, where the men's national team would be made up of strictly Italian-trained players.
Vairo first got involved in international hockey when he was the head coach of the U.S. junior team from 1979-82. During that stint he was in charge of advanced scouting for the 1980 U.S. Olympic team as well. “This position consisted of me being in contact with Craig Patrick, who was down on the bench, through a walkie-talkie. Herb Brooks wanted me to come down between periods and we would also meet every morning and evening. I held the same position in Salt Lake (2002 Games) as well but that was more of an official capacity. Times were different back then, we were being a bit sneaky back in 1980,” Vairo recalled.
Later he was head coach at several World Championships with the U.S. He would also work in the NHL where he was the assistant coach for the New Jersey Devils for two years, after which he had his first taste of working with a European federation with the Netherlands.
Vairo received his first introduction to Italian hockey when Fassa hired him for the 1987/88 season. During his three years with the club and the following two in Milan, Vairo had the opportunity to really see the ins and outs of Italian hockey during a five-year stretch, and this is one of the reasons why he accepted the position of an advisor.
With his international experience he understands the situation the Italians are at right now. In the past 35 years the Italian national team usually had several North American-raised players, mostly of Italian heritage, that were key players on their team. At the 1992 World Championship for instance, Italy had only four Italian-born players on the team.
“I am in a position right now where I will advise and recommend. The Italians will have to make the decision. I don't want to make any decisions, I just want to give my advice. It’s their hockey, it’s their country, it’s their program and they can decide what they think they should do,” Vairo said.
He is clearly a great source of information for both on and off ice issues that the Italians may come across. One of the reasons he is in an advisory capacity is because he does not want to leave the job that he loves at USA Hockey, which has been the Director of Special Projects as well as implementing the diversity task force.
The interim coach of the Italian team for the tournament in Budapest was Ivano Zanatta, who was one of those Canadian-Italians on the Italian national team in the late 1980s and early ‘90s. He thinks that it’s a good idea to go for a strictly Italian-team based on the decrease in popularity of the sport in Italy.
“After many years there was a decrease in the registration of players. Basically players do not see the light at the end of the tunnel at the U20 and U18 ages. They ask themselves ‘so now what?’ This is something that has been neglected for many years and not dealt with maybe the right way. I understand the federation, and they have to do something. Your base has to be Italian players,” Zanatta said.
“One of my recommendations is to try to limit the number of imports and Italian-Americans,” said Vairo. “Don't try to do it in one year, spread it over four or five years, a little less each year until you have all Italians, especially in the national team. Besides that they can play, they are good players, we saw that here in the tournament.”
It sounds like Ivano Zanatta is on the same page like Vairo, however, surprisingly he uses Hungary as an example Italy could possibly follow since Hungary has revamped its hockey development program a couple years ago and placed Glen Williamson in charge from ages U13 all the way through to U18.
“I have to pay my compliments to Glen Williamson as he has made huge strides with what he has done with Hungary, and that is taking huge steps forward with the home product and produced players. We have to copy and paste this, we don't have to reinvent the wheel. These are things that are difficult decisions and hard decisions but they are the right decisions to make in the future, to have a strong base in the future where you can add the naturalized players if needed,” Zanatta said.
Both Zanatta and Vairo agree that they liked what they saw in Budapest from the Italian squad despite not winning the tournament. They liked how the team worked together and that they showed that these are the right type of players to build the foundation of the future of Italian hockey on. The next step for Vairo might be to give some advice on who the next national team coach should be, but he would not have to go far to find someone who is already on board with the ideas.
“I want to be a part of Italian hockey, I want to contribute,” said Zanatta after the last game of the tournament against Hungary. “I have been fortunate to coach in Switzerland and the KHL. I’m collaborating and working with Italian hockey. I believe in the new program and the President Tommaso Teofoli. They have the right idea. Now all they need is courage, stick to the program and give it some time.”
After relegation last spring in Minsk, the Italians will play in the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A in Krakow where they will face Kazakhstan, Japan, Ukraine, Hungary and host Poland.
The top-two teams will qualify for the top division in Russia in 2016 but for Italy promotion might not be the main focus this time but rather building a base for the future if they enter the event with a team of home-grown player rather than with ten North American-born players like at the 2014 Worlds in Minsk. The answer will be known in four-and-a-half months from now.
When Lou Vairo moved from New York City to Austin to coach the Austin Mavericks in the late 1970s, he was just looking for an opportunity.
Vairo got that opportunity and he cashed in — big time. Vairo, who is being inducted into the USA Hockey Hall of Fame in Minneapolis/St. Paul Dec. 4, coached the Mavericks for three seasons and went on to coach in the Olympics, the NHL and all over the world.
Vairo had his hands full with the Mavericks as he was the team’s coach, general manager and sometimes served as the team chef or team bus driver.
“I loved every minute of it,” Vairo said. “That was my big opportunity to move up in hockey.”
Vairo led the Mavericks to the USHL national championship in 1976, but he also did plenty of work behind the scenes. The Mavericks weren’t exactly drawing big crowds when Vairo first arrived in Austin, so he did everything in his power to let people know about the team.
“We built it up,” he said. “The ownership was great, and we went door to door. We did whatever we could to get people on our side.”
Jim Webber of Austin was one of the eight owners of the Mavericks and he made Vairo’s hiring official with a handshake back in 1976. Webber said Vairo’s impact was felt all over the city of Austin.
Vairo, who is a master chef, taught cooking classes in town, lived with and fed a group of players who couldn’t find housing in town, and was generally a positive presence.
“Everybody that knows him knows what a great guy he is and he’s a great family man,” Webber said. “He’s really, really a special person and that’s evidenced by the fact that he’s been nominated into the Hall of Fame.”
Vairo remembered the joy of developing players at a young age and helping them land on college squads. He also remembers how hard it was for American players to make it before the 1980 Olympics when team USA won the Gold Medal after it beat Russia in the ‘Miracle on Ice’ in the semifinals.
“In those days, it wasn’t easy for American players to get recognition,” Vairo said. “We hadn’t yet proven ourselves as a hockey nation.”
Vairo was a head coach of the US Junior National team from 1979-1982 and he was a scout for the 1980 Gold medal winning team. Vairo was the head coach of the 1984 US Olympic hockey team, he spent time as an assistant coach for the New Jersey Devils, and he coached six seasons in Holland and Italy.
Vairo learned much of his tactics by studying with legendary Soviet coach Anatoly Tarasov, and he brought what he learned to the Mavericks and the other teams he coached on.
“He coached a European style of hockey,” Webber said of Vairo. “For the most part, there was no fighting. He didn’t go for that and he didn’t allow his kids to fight. He was a no-nonsense guy who was tough on his players. He was kind of a father figure to them.”
Vairo has lived around the world and he’s coached in a lot of places. Through it all, he said he’s never been happier than he was when he lived in Austin. Although he didn’t like the mosquitoes, the hot summers or the cold winters, Vairo looks back on the people of Austin very kindly.
“I enjoy people more than anything else,” he said. “When I lived in Austin, you didn’t have to lock your house and everybody was so pleasant. They were decent, honest, hard working people. You can’t find better people in the world, and I’ve been all over the world.”
Webber has kept in touch with Vairo over the years and he said you can’t say enough about how good of a person Vairo is.
“You almost have to meet him and spend a little time with him to see what kind of human being he is,” Webber said. “Our family is really close to him.”
The other USA Hockey Hall of Fame inductees include Jeff Sauer, a St. Paul native, who coached 40 years of college hockey, Brian Rafalski, who played 11 seasons in the NHL, and Karen Bye Dietz, a River Falls native who was one of the elite forwards on the US women’s team from 1992 to 2002.
Former National Hockey League player and coach Pat Quinn passed away on Sunday after a long illnes.
A bruising defenseman as a player, Quinn - a native of Hamilton, Ont. - won the Memorial Cup in 1963 with the Edmonton Oil Kings prior to a 14-year pro career, nine years of which were spent in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Vancouver Canucks, and Atlanta Flames.
Quinn went on to coach the Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, Canucks, Maple Leafs, and Edmonton Oilers over the course of 22 years. He reached the Stanley Cup Final twice, with the Flyers in 1980 and the Canucks in 1994.
Internationally, Quinn coached Team Canada to gold medals at the 2002 Winter Olympics, 2008 IIHF World U18 Championships and 2009 World Junior Championship, as well as the 2004 World Cup championship.
Legendary Russian hockey coach and player Viktor Tikhonov passed away Sunday at the age of 84.
Tikhonov is best known for coaching the Soviet national team during its most dominant stretch, winning three Olympic gold medals and eight world championship gold medals, along with a Challenge Cup victory and a Canada Cup title.
He also captured 13 consecutive Soviet league titles as a coach and enjoyed a successful playing career, winning four Soviet titles. He retired from hockey in 1996.
Igor Shesterkin made 12 of his 25 saves in the third period and Russia completed the six-game Subway Super Series by holding off the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League 3-2 in Rimouski, Quebec, on Thursday.
Russia won four of the six games against teams from each of North America's top three junior leagues. The Russians won both games against the Western Hockey League and split two games against the Ontario Hockey League and the QMJHL.
Ivan Fishchenko opened the scoring at 16:06 of the first period when he beat QMJHL goaltender Philippe Desrosiers (Dallas Stars) for his first goal of the series. Vladimir Bryukvin and Vyacheslav Leschenko, each of whom is eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft, scored in a span of 5:21 in the second period to put Russia up by three.
Shesterkin (New York Rangers) was less than 13 minutes from earning his second shutout of the series; he shut out the OHL 4-0 on Nov. 13. But Nicolas Meloche, who's also 2015 draft-eligible, scored with 12:49 remaining to break up the shutout bid, and Anthony Deluca's power-play goal with 7:29 to play cut Russia's lead to one goal.
Shesterkin, who was in goal for three of Russia's four victories in the series, made 12 saves in the first and third periods; Russia outshot the QMJHL 8-1 in the second.
Desrosiers finished with 18 saves.
Some major changes took place in the German Ice Hockey Federation’s hierarchy this summer, with the new management wanting things to change from the ground up. Long-time German Ice Hockey Federation employee Franz Reindl was selected as the new DEB President (Deutsche Eishockey-Bund), gaining 73.5% of the vote from the summer’s General Assembly. With that, he replaced Uwe Harnos, who made it known before the vote that he would no longer be a candidate for the position he had held since 2002.
In recent years, there has been quite a struggle between the organizers involved in the German ice hockey scene, particularly at the professional and amateur levels across the country. It’s now the presiding feeling that if anyone can bridge the differences over the long-term, it will be Reindl, who has been involved in Germany’s professional and international ice hockey scene since his own playing career for the SC Riessersee, which began in 1972.
In light of these changes, Hockey’s Future got in touch with long-time U20 coach Ernst Hofner, now serving as the country’s Sports Director, to discuss what this all means for the future of German ice hockey and how the organization plans on fostering young talent towards creating a better national team – and perhaps more players like Leon Draisaitl along the way.
Hockey’s Future: Mr. Hofner, the German Ice Hockey Federation has a new president and is taking a different approach towards things. What are your thoughts on this change?
Ernst Hofner: With our new president and his new cabinet, we’re definitely on the right path, because the new cabinet is very good and capable of working together and thus, being a family.
HF: What is going to change now in the German ice hockey scene and what will the national team look like in ten years?
EH: The cooperation between the professional leagues and the German Ice Hockey Federation will, in the future, be based on mutual respect. Our momentary goal is to educate the current U13/U14 players in a better way with respect to both their technical abilities and in a tactical manner in order to make them more capable of competing internationally. This naturally should lead to the national team being much better in ten years time (by 2024).
HF: Our website is all about future NHL players. President Reindl is hoping quite vigorously that he’ll be able to watch a German national team in 15-20 years time that will play for a medal in the World Championship, much less in the Olympics. What is changing in the development of young German players now that could go towards making that goal possible?
EH: We’ll be recruiting more players for the sport of ice hockey in a systematic manner. The players are educated and further developed as per a planned method. The players will then be tested in international junior competition and raised to a level necessary to compete internationally.
HF: Speaking of young players, you were the coach of Germany’s U20 team for many years. As part of that, you’ve seen a lot of games and a lot of players. In your new role with the DEB, you’ll surely be doing a lot more of that at all age levels. Of what tasks exactly does your current role consist of?
EH: I’m now the official Sports Director of Deutschen Eishockey-Bund e.V. (DEB). I observe games and players all over the country with the goal of getting them into the nation’s top national team. I’m responsible for developing a unified practice and game plan structure together with the DEB coaches from the U16 to the men’s national team. An additional focus of my job is improving both the mental and athletic fitness of the players.
HF: What do you feel DEL and DEL2 clubs can or should be doing to improve the situation in German ice hockey? Or do you think that what’s going on right now, with the new, more cooperative structures, is the most optimal route to take?
EH: The DEL and DEL2 organizations are currently on the right path in being optimally active in developing young players with perspective and are showing the readiness to invest even more in this area. It’s the feeling we’re getting from them. In addition, our system here in Germany of having so-called Promotional Licenses, (Ed. note: where teams can reassign their young, signed players to teams in the DEL2 or the nation’s third-highest professional level of play, the Oberliga) allows young players to be placed in the best possible situation for their development and get the type of ice time they need in conjunction with where they currently are in their careers. This is something we’re definitely seeing as very effective in the progress of young players who have finished their junior careers.
HF: How do you feel about some of the young talent leaving Germany no later than at the end of their DNL playing days to seek out new challenges, usually in North America? For example, the most recent German WJC team you coached in Malmo consisted primarily of such players…
EH: In the future, this currently high number of players heading over to North America is going to sink, maybe dramatically, because the perspectives for players in Germany are quite simply changing drastically. This will have a massive impact on the current trend.
HF: Pat Cortina, head coach of the men’s national team, also participated in the last WJC in Malmo and is now taking over the reigns as the head coach of the U20 team, which he’ll be guiding through the upcoming WJC in his home country of Canada. This dual function is not very common, although recently practiced by, for example, Sean Simpson for Switzerland. What advantages does the DEB feel can come of this?
EH: The advantage is that players in the U20 team will already be very familiar and used to the system he is implementing in the men’s team, as well. This will allow them to adjust much easier to the needs and expectations at the men’s level, both domestically and internationally. And we’re not talking about just the play on the ice. They’ll also be used to and practicing the same thing athletically off the ice, in preparations for games, and with respect to mental fitness, which is very important for a program like Germany’s.
HF: You’ve coached and worked with the Edmonton Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl for a number of years now. How did you experience seeing him get drafted this past summer and what do you think about him having been taken third overall, something completely unheard of from a German-born and raised ice hockey player?
EH: Right from the beginning, Leon Draisaitl was one of the best players in Germany. In every step of his development, at every age level, he was about the best the country had. I have long felt he’d have the opportunity to be a first round NHL Draft pick and I was incredibly excited and happy for him to see him get taken third overall.
HF: In your opinion, what is the most impressive part of Leon’s game and capabilities?
EH: The most impressive aspect of his game is that he can protect the puck in the offensive zone like few players I’ve seen. He also possesses incredible hockey sense and an above-average nose for the net.
HF: Do you feel that Philipp Grubauer, Korbinian Holzer, Konrad Abeltshauser, Tobias Rieder and Tom Kuhnhackl are future NHL players?
EH: Tobias Rieder has already played his first NHL games and I feel he’s well on his way to one day becoming a regular at the NHL level. Philipp Grubauer also has a few NHL games under his belt and I fully believe he can become a long-term NHL goalie. Konrad, Korbinian and Tom all have some strong attributes and the prerequisites. Should they continue to work really hard on their game, I feel all three of them can make the jump to the NHL.
HF: Are there other young players who are currently active in Germany with whom you’ve worked who you believe may get a shot at the NHL later in their career?
EH: I feel a few young German players in Germany can play in the NHL one day, for example, Tim Bender or Dominik Kahun (both currently with the EHC Red Bull Munich). I think this’ll also be the case for Yannik Moser (Ohio State) and Frederik Tiffels (Western Michigan), who of course are already playing in North America.
HF: Without wanting to say too much, does Germany have the next Leon Draisaitl or Christian Erhoff playing somewhere, maybe in current U16 ranks?
EH: It’s difficult to make an evaluation of any sort at that age. We have a few young promising talents, but much of their development will depend on how they go about continuing their development and what their work ethic is.
Growing up in Canada I was a huge hockey fan, but it wasn't until the 1972 summit series and the 1976 Canada Cup that I became a big fan of international hockey. The best players in world all playing on a sheet of ice.
over the years Ice Hockey as grown and is still growing all over the world. On this website you find Video Hi-lites of International Games, Ice hockey News, National Team Records, All Time Results, Scores, Schedule to upcoming games and all International Tournaments from around the world.
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