Month: September 2016 (page 4 of 8)

Interview with Dicky Haiek

By George Da Silva – National Teams of Ice Hockey

We had the great pleasure of interviewing Dicky Haiek president of Club Argentino de Hockey sobre Heilo y en Linea. Mr Haiek has been involved in hockey in Argentina since 1995.

Can you tell our audience a little bit about yourself and a brief history of Ice hockey in Argentina?

My name is Jorge F. Haiek everybody call me Dicky, I am a System Analysis but I started my sporting life of Ice Hockey in 1985. In 1990 I lived in Montreal, Canada and studied and played in Concordia University,
When the Roller Hockey started in 1994 I tried the wheels and played in the First World Cup inline Hockey in Chicago 1995 for my Country Argentina. I returned to Buenos Aires and started to promote and develop the sport.
It started in cities and schools and then we built the first inline hockey rink in Buenos Aires. For 3 years I played in the FIRS Inline Hockey World Championships and when I knew that International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) started to organize WC of this sport I took a plane and went to meet with the staff of IIHF in the 1996 WC in Anaheim California, that’s when we form the Asociacion Argentina de Hockey sobre Hielo y en Linea (AAHHL) in 1997. Since that date we continue helping to develop both ice hockey and inline in Argentina.

You are the President of Club Argentino de Hockey sobre Hielo y en Linea, what can you tell us about the club?

When the AAHHL started in 1997 we were some players but now we are some clubs that promote and practice booth sports, thats why we created Club Argentino de Hockey sobre Hielo y en Linea (CAHHL). CAHHL is one of the biggest Clubs of Hockey in Argentina and we organize some teams to participate in different Tournaments.

What can you tell us what the hockey program are like in Argentina?

The program of Hockey in Argentina is based of Inline Hockey because we are not a Ice Philosophy Country like USA or Canada, most of our players learn to play inline hockey and then transfer successfully to the Ice. We have some players that started to move to North American to play Ice Hockey in the top level. My son is one of them, he moved to Ontario, Canada and is playing in AAA.

Inline hockey is very popular in Argentina how hard as it been to make ice hockey a viable sport in the country?

We need a Indoor Olympic size Ice Rink, meanwhile we have to continue to train our players in the small ice hockey rinks and inline camps in Argentina.
We have an Outdoor Olympic Rink in the south part of our country In Ushuaia and the players who live there are a very good players, I know that we can be on the top with the correct infrastructure.

Outdoor Ice Rink in Ushuaia, Argentina

There are two organization in Argentina running hockey the AAHHL which is recognized by the IIHF and the FAHH which claims to be the true leader in hockey in the county.  Why have the two organization not come together to form one Federation?

The AAHHL is recognized by all entities of our sport in Argentina and international (IIHF, Secretary of Sports, Argentina Olympic Committee, etc), and was the first organization to promote and develop booth sports, long after the other federation (FAHH) was created and is not recognized by any entity but did his best to achieve these recognition, FAHH have not been able to remove the AAHHL which is the official body Argentina ice hockey.
AAHHL is open to all the players and Clubs but the people who are in charge of the FAHH don’t want to join and work together. It is not true that the FAHH is the leader of the Ice Hockey in Argentina they have some players and most of that them participate in the AAHHL tournaments and camps.

Argentina has been taking part in the Pan American Ice Hockey tournaments in Mexico, how has this helped ice hockey develop in the country?

The Pan American Ice Hockey Tournament was a idea created for both Federations (Mexican and Argentina) 6 years ago. Is very helpful to our development because we can not to participate in the World Championships or Olympic Qualifiers. We started to participate with one team in 2014 and last year we participate with 4 teams 2 Men and 2 Women more than 80 players.

Do you see more Latin and South American countries taking part in the Pan American Tournament in the future?

For next years tournament Chile, Jamaica, Venezuela, Ecuador, USA and Canada are invited to 2017 Pan American tournament. I hope some of these countries will participate and start to be a Traditional Ice Hockey Tournament in the region !!!

When do you see Argentina taking part in the IIHF World Championships program?

We need the basic standards to participate (at least 1 Indoor Olympic Size Rink) in IIHF World Championships or Olympics.

Crosby, Marchand combine for 6 points in Team Canada win

By Canadian Press

Sidney Crosby couldn’t be stopped in Team Canada’s World Cup of Hockey opener.

The Canadian captain had a hand in four goals against the Czech Republic, finishing with one marker himself and two assists in a 6-0 win on Saturday evening.

It was the same kind of dominant performance Crosby offered at the end of the last NHL season, in which the now-29-year-old won the Conn Smythe Trophy in helping the Pittsburgh Penguins to a second Stanley Cup.

Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Joe Thornton, Jonathan Toews and Alex Pietrangelo also scored for the Canadians, while Carey Price pitched a 27-save shutout.

Michal Neuvirth made 44 saves in defeat, with Canada outshooting the Czechs 50-27.

Heavy favourites heading into the tournament, Canada took care of its first preliminary-round opponent as required. Division rivals from the United States couldn’t say the same earlier in the day, dropping a 3-0 afternoon affair to Team Europe.

The Canadians next game comes against the Americans on Tuesday night.

If concluding as a resounding win, the first few minutes of Saturday’s game were a little messy.

Czech winger Ondrej Palat came up with a quality chance just 41 seconds into the game and after Crosby was denied on a breakaway Canada took a pair of minor penalties. Canada was being outshot 6-1 after the first six-plus minutes.

Whatever early tension there was quickly evaporated. Canada gained steam in a hurry and after a few flurries at the offensive end broke through on the first goal of the game from Crosby. Grabbing hold of a rebound as he swung behind the Czech goal, Crosby flung a shot off the back of Neuvirth and into the goal.

Looking quick, while relentlessly pursuing the puck, Canada upped the lead to 2-0 with less than three minutes left in the first. After Bergeron won an offensive-zone faceoff, Crosby sent a backhand pass to Burns at the point. The NHL’s leading goal-scorer from the back-end last season firing a blast that Marchand tipped past Neuvirth.

It was the second of three points for Marchand.

The Canadians kept coming even in the waning moments of the first. Crosby forced a Czech turnover in the offensive zone with just seconds to go, the puck scooped up by Marchand, who dished cross-ice to Bergeron. The 31-year-old found the back of the net for the 3-0 lead with less than a second remaining in the frame.

Bergeron and Marchand have been a seamless fit alongside Crosby since the opening day of training camp. Head coach Mike Babcock said Crosby was best when paired with speedy, intelligent players who pursue the puck. Crosby and Bergeron have been an effective tandem numerous times for Canada.

Screening the goaltender on the play was Crosby.

Crosby kept it coming in the second. Veering to his right across the slot, Crosby whipped a wicked backhand pass to his left, with Thornton there to tap it in on the doorstep. It was the first goal the 37-year-old had scored for Canada since the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

Toews and Pietrangelo both found the mark on separate power plays, becoming the fifth and sixth Canadian goal scorers.

Price was tested only occasionally by the Czechs, appearing much like the highly-reputed goaltender he was before injury last season. The 29-year-old was square to pucks and limited rebounds, his shutout preserved late in the second period when Roman Cervenka rung a shot off the crossbar.

If there was one primary fault for Team Canada, even in victory, it was discipline. The Canadians took six minor penalties after seven infractions in their final exhibition tilt against Russia earlier in the week.

Jaroslav Halak stops 35 as Team Europe blanks Team USA

By Canadian Press

Marian Gaborik, Leon Draisaitl and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored, Jaroslav Halak made 35 saves and Team Europe upset the United States 3-0 on Saturday in a stunning opening game at the World Cup of Hockey.

Playing his first game since March 8 because of a groin injury, Halak was up to the task, especially in the third period.

Jonathan Quick allowed three goals on 17 shots but fell victim to blunders in front of him. A mistake by defenceman Ryan McDonagh allowed Europe to get a 2-on-1 rush for Gaborik’s goal, and a turnover by Hart Trophy winner Patrick Kane set up a 2-on-0 for Draisaitl’s.

The U.S. outshot Europe 35-17, went 0 for 4 on the power play and had a goal disallowed.

 Losing in regulation puts the Americans in a deep hole with only two games left in the preliminary round. They face favoured Canada on Tuesday night.

The U.S. went into the first World Cup game in 12 years as the favourite against a European team made up of players from Slovakia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Norway, Denmark, France and Slovenia. European coach Ralph Krueger declared earlier in the day: “We’re going to be a competitive team here today, and we’re ready to look America in the eyes.”

That was clear from the drop of the puck.

It didn’t help that the U.S. kept giving Europe golden opportunities. McDonagh’s ill-advised pinch freed up Frans Nielsen and Gaborik for a 2-on-1, and Quick had little chance of stopping it at 4:19 of the first period.

After playing only 4:45 in the first, Kane tried to skate through two European players and had the gaffe of the game. Draisaitl picked it off, executed a perfect give-and-go with Nino Niederreiter that made it 2-0 Europe 4:02 into the second.

At 14:10 of the second it looked like the U.S. was on the board with a power-play goal off the helmet of Derek Stepan. But after video review, referee Kelly Sutherland announced that van Riemsdyk intentionally directed the puck in with his chest.

Europe dealt the final blow at 18:32 of the second when Bellemare deflected Jannik Hansen’s shot past Quick.

Notes: U.S. coach John Tortorella scratched defenceman Dustin Byfuglien, forward Kyle Palmieri and goaltender Cory Schneider. Ben Bishop served as Quick’s backup. … Forward Mikkel Boedker and defenceman Luca Sbisa were scratched for Europe.

Coach Krueger’s strange journey to Team Europe in the hockey World Cup

By Eric Duhatschek – The Globe and Mail

The chairman of Southampton Football Club, just four games into the English Premier League season, is explaining how he came to make the improbable journey to coach Team Europe in hockey’s World Cup. This is Ralph Krueger, last seen in the NHL as the pre-Connor McDavid coach of the Edmonton Oilers.

Krueger’s dismissal after a single, lockout-shortened season in favour of Dallas Eakins was a head-scratcher back in June of 2013.

But in the long history of the NHL’s hired-to-be-fired set, arguably no one landed on his feet more emphatically than Krueger, a 57-year-old native of Steinbach, Man., who played his junior hockey in Canada and had an extensive sports résumé – just not in soccer.

It happened this way: Southampton, a team that finished a solid sixth in last season’s standings, is owned by Katharina Liebherr, a Swiss businesswoman who inherited the club from her father six years ago. Though Krueger was a long-time coach of the Swiss men’s national hockey team, the connection to the Liebherr family came because of his work outside of sport. Since 2011, Krueger has been a member of the Geneva-based World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on new models of leadership, which is how he came to get an interview for the Southampton job.

“I never had a plan to get into football at all. What I was excited about was the leadership challenge in and around the Southampton Football Club,” said Krueger, who said his first conversation with Liebherr in 2013 lasted three hours, and philosophically, they just clicked.

Soon after, Liebherr offered him the job, but Krueger was then acting as a special adviser to Canadian Olympic coach Mike Babcock going into the Sochi Games, and didn’t want to leave the team in the lurch. So he asked if she would delay the appointment so he could complete his Olympic commitment.

“She gave me that space, just as she’s giving me the space now for the World Cup,” Krueger explained. “I told her a year ago, ‘I’ve been asked to coach the European team.’ She said, ‘Is it going to make you a better leader?’ I said ‘Yes’ and so she said ‘Go.’ That’s the kind of woman she is.”

Uniting Team Europe will be among Krueger’s greatest challenges. Unlike the under-24 North American team, with players who can get by on youthful enthusiasm, Krueger is working with skaters from eight countries.

Not many championships have been won, outside of golf’s Solheim and Ryder Cups, under the rallying cry “Let’s win one for our continent.”

Anze Kopitar may bleed for Slovenia and Mark Streit will sweat for Switzerland, but getting them to play with the sort of energy and zeal usually associated with best-on-best international competition will test Krueger’s motivational skills. But it is something at which he has proved quite adept.

In his short stint with Edmonton, the prize free agent of the summer of 2012 was Justin Schultz, a graduating collegian who had the right to play anywhere in the NHL. Dozens of teams pursued him. When Schultz unexpectedly picked Edmonton – considered a coup at the time – he cited Krueger’s vision as one of his primary reasons for signing with the Oilers.

Presumably, Krueger will use the same persuasive voice to get his collection of European all-stars on the same page.

“There was some cynicism about Team Europe at the start, but I can tell you, all the guys have embraced it,” Krueger said. “All the players are going to have their country’s flag on their arms, so when Anze Kopitar walks into Team Europe, he still represents Slovenia in everything he does.

“Every time these guys played Sweden, Finland, Russia, the Czechs, Canada or the U.S. in their whole careers, they’ve always been the outsider, an underdog. Now, through the synergies of all these countries, playing together, they have a chance to look the big boys in the eye – and I think they will embrace that.

“From a system standpoint, in the end, we need to get them to play together on the ice – that’s the only thing that really matters. We can do all the off-ice stuff we want; if we don’t connect on the ice, it really won’t matter.”

However the World Cup experience turns out, Krueger will be back at his day job by early October, with the British soccer season in full swing. At Southampton, Krueger introduced an NHL-style hierarchy to the organization, doubling the size of the scouting staff and putting a general manager and a coach in charge of personnel decisions.

Upon arriving in Southampton, one of Krueger’s primary objectives was to build up the business off the field, so the team had the revenues to better develop players. Gareth Bale and others have come through the Southampton youth academy, and that is where they’ve devoted some of the new cash that Krueger’s initiatives have generated.

Will Team North America save the World Cup of Hockey?

By James Mertle – The Globe and Mail

No one at the NHL’s head office seems to recall precisely where the idea came from or who first brought it up. But Bill Daly believes that its origins are more than a decade old.

Back then, the NHL was still debating what to do about Olympic participation, with the Games in Turin, Italy, and interrupting their season yet again. One concept that was kicked around briefly was sending only 23-and-under players – the way men’s soccer teams do for the Olympics – instead of shutting down the entire league.

That never ended up happening. But the idea lay dormant at the NHL front office until the summer of 2014, when commissioner Gary Bettman, his right-hand man, Daly, and NHL Players’ Association head Don Fehr began discussing the format for a revamped World Cup of Hockey.

They knew that six countries would be there – Canada, the United States, Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic – but the next two entries were up in the air. The goals they came up with for the event were to (a) include as many NHL players as possible, preferably drawing all 184 from within the league, and (b) to avoid the ugly blowouts that have plagued almost every recent international hockey tournament.

With those guidelines, it was thrown to Kris King, NHL senior vice-president of hockey operations, and NHLPA executive Mathieu Schneider to lead the way with some concept teams. Dozens of options were pondered, including having A and B teams for both Canada and the United States.

Ultimately, however, a team of “young guns” – the way the NHL had attempted at various All-Star Games from 2002 to 2009 with YoungStars teams – had staying power.

Thus, Team North America was born.

“It wasn’t an easy decision, by any means,” said Schneider, who had the job of explaining the idea to concerned young players like Aaron Ekblad at the 2015 All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio. “We waffled back and forth several times. In the end, we decided we wanted to have the best players in the world on the ice. This is our tournament. We have a chance to do that.

“We knew we had the six core teams. We even discussed going with six, but we didn’t really like the idea that so many great players wouldn’t get the opportunity to play. So we started to really analyze it as a best-on-best tournament and putting together eight teams.

“We looked at what soccer does in the Olympics [with 23-and-under players] and that was kind of the idea that spurred that. When we saw the roster, that’s when we were like ‘Holy cow – these guys have a really good team.’ But, to be honest, the first couple guys we talked to, until we showed them what the roster might look like, they said, ‘We don’t want to show up and be embarrassed at the thing.’”

From the beginning, the notion of resurrecting the World Cup of Hockey has had its critics and skeptics. This is an event that has been held only once in the past 20 years: A 2004 tournament that had the feeling of an underwhelming cash grab, a series of forgettable exhibition games that were overshadowed by the looming lockout.

So when the NHL announced last September that the tournament would return with an unusual format, with two invented teams – North America and Team Europe, the backlash was predictable.

What wasn’t was how quickly minds have changed once they hit the ice.

The 2016 edition of the World Cup of Hockey gets going in earnest on Saturday in Toronto, but the preliminary-round games have offered a glimpse of what is to come. The hockey has been surprisingly competitive, with players already shifting into something resembling a top gear. Most of the buzz around the tournament, however, has been about Team North America, after lopsided wins over Europe were filled with highlight-reel plays by teenagers Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews.

While Team Canada’s exhibition games have had the highest TV ratings in this country, North America’s are not far behind, with nearly 600,000 viewers watching each of their tune-up wins. Meanwhile, tickets to see the young guns are in heavy demand on the secondary market, far surpassing that of any non-Canadian team.

Early indications are that the team many believed would hurt the World Cup’s credibility will instead be what makes it memorable, bringing in an audience anxious to see the top young players in the world play against the veterans.

“These guys can play,” King said. “Not that we’re surprised. But the way they play together is pretty neat. It’s going to make for an interesting tournament. It looks like it’s going to work. And they’ve become the adopted team for the younger people that I talk to. Of course, Canada’s going to be the team that their dads are going to cheer for, but I think the kids are cheering for North America.”

Olympic Oval to host Chinese hockey team

china ice hockey

By Richmond News

Women’s national squad will visit Richmond next month for training and tournament

The Chinese women’s national team is coming to the Richmond Olympic Oval next month for training and to participate in the Canada-China Women’s Ice Hockey Tournament.
The trip to B.C. (Oct. 15-25) is part of the process building up to the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, with the final roster expected to be selected from the current training group. The tournament is the key component of the Second Canada-China Sports Exchange.

The Canada China Sports Foundation (CCSF) are co-hosting the four-team event, along with the Griffiths Hockey Club. The final game and closing ceremonies are slated for the Olympic Oval.

“This is the second year that CCSF is hosting a Canada-China Sports Exchange,” explained CCSF secretary general Wu Zili. “Last year’s ‘Beijing Meets Vancouver: Olympic Cities Forum’ gave the two Olympic host cities an opportunity to exchange their experience, knowledge and expertise.
“(This time) we will provide the Chinese women’s team an opportunity to play tournament games and get training in Canada, the top ice-hockey nation in the world. This is of tremendous help for Chinese players to improve their skills and tactics, and better prepare them for the Olympics. This is what Harmony through Hockey, Hand in Hand for Olympic Dreams really means.”

The Griffiths Hockey Club is co-founded by B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame and B.C. Sports Hall of Fame inductee Arthur Griffiths.

Club president Victor Tsao pointed out that, as a top hockey nation, Canada can offer the most complete training methods and facilities, and, more importantly, provide the best development strategies and experience to help promote the game.

Club advisors, Griffiths and former Vancouver Canucks star Cliff Ronning, attended last week’s press conference at the Oval and welcomed the Chinese team. They promised to provide the best possible living, training and tournament experience for the players, in order to maximize their gain in skills and tactics.
The tournament will also feature three other teams — UBC Thunderbirds, provincial champion South Fraser TNT and the Pacific Steelers.

As a non-profit organization with the mandate to promote social welfare and charity through the medium of sports, the CCSF will donate revenues from tournament tickets and sponsorship to the Pacific Autism Family Centre in Richmond. 

Auston Matthews impresses World Cup coach, teammates!/cpImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/16x9_620/world-cup-czech-republic-north-america-hockey.jpg

By Neil Davidson – The Canadian Press

The World Cup of Hockey has yet to start but Toronto Maple Leafs teenager Auston Matthews has already made an impression.

“He’s just got better every day,” Team North America coach Todd McLellan said.

“He’s shown that he’s going to be responsible on both sides of the puck. [He] has a great sense of how to use his body on the ice. He’s a big man that protects pucks well. He’s able to use speed when he needs it. He’s able to slow it down and protect [the puck] when he needs it to use.”

The six-foot-two 210-pound Matthews “hasn’t taken a back seat to anybody — respectfully,” McLellan said.

“He has not been shy in the locker-room. He’s not been afraid on the ice,” the coach added. “He’s a pretty exciting player right now. Certainly the Leafs will have a fun one to watch for many years.”

Matthews, who turns 19 on Saturday — the opening day of the tournament — is one of eight Leafs taking part in the World Cup. The others are North American teammate Morgan Rielly, Milan Michalek and Roman Polak (Czech Republic), Leo Komarov (Finland), Nikita Zaitsev (Russia), Jhonas Enroth (Sweden) and James van Riemsdyk (U.S.).

Goalie Frederik Andersen was slated to play for Team Europe but withdrew due to injury.

Eager to play at ACC

Matthews, taken first overall in this past June’s NHL draft after performing well during a season in the Swiss league, says he is looking forward to playing at Air Canada Centre.

“It’s going to be awesome,” the Arizona native said. “It’s going to be a very special moment.”

North America captain Connor McDavid, the first overall pick in 2015, said Matthews is getting more and more comfortable with each outing.

“He’s a big body and he’s confident with the puck,” McDavid said. “He makes good plays. He already has a pretty good defensive game as well.”

North America, made up of players 23 and under, opens tournament play Sunday against Finland.


Laine captivating in the spotlight

By Paul WiecekWinnipeg Free Press

It’s a dressing room jam packed with NHL stars.

There’s Mikko Koivu. A couple stalls away is Valtteri Filppula. Over in goalie corner sits Tuukka Rask and Pekka Rinne.

Jori Lehtera, Aleksander Barkov, Teuvo Teravainen, Olli Maatta, Mikael Granlund — if they’re Finnish and can play hockey at a high level, they’re in that room somewhere.

And yet, for two days here this week in the bowels of the Verizon Center, the media mostly walked by all of them to get to the far corner of the Finland dressing room, where an 18-year-old blonde kid wearing a Winnipeg Jets T-shirt sat.

Patrik Laine understands it’s not supposed to work this way. In the stratified world of pro hockey, a kid who has yet to play a shift in the NHL is not supposed to get more attention than 10-year veterans.

So yeah, Laine admits it’s all just as surreal to him right now as it is to everyone else. Asked if there’s anyone in the Finnish dressing room that he grew up idolizing, Laine motions to a row of lockers across the room. “Almost everybody,” he says, “from that wall.”

It’s a funny line, one of many the Jets second-overall draft pick will drop with a deadpan delivery over the course of a couple days>

The kid, in other words, is great copy — on the ice and very definitely also off of it.

First things first. On the ice, your eye is drawn to him whenever he’s out there — and not just because he towers over almost everyone else at 6-foot-5 and, presumably, still growing.

He’s got a right-handed shot but can play either wing effectively and is one of those rare players who seems to have a magnet in his stick blade. In his North American debut in a pre-tournament World Cup of Hockey game here Tuesday night, Laine authored a night to remember, scoring a goal midway through the third period that history will surely record as just his first of many in an NHL arena.

But as memorable as Laine’s goal was, it was actually a play midway through the second period that perhaps had the Jets brass salivating most.

First, Laine blew by USA forward James van Riemsdyk in a race for a loose puck. Second, he turnstiled a very good American defenceman in Ryan McDonogh to get behind the U.S. defence, protecting the puck along the way with his ridiculously long reach.

And then finally, with a lightning quick flick of the wrist he let rip a blistering shot on USA netminder Jonathan Quick.

And so to review — speed, moves, puck possession and a deadly shot, the latter described to me this week by Finnish head coach Lauri Marjamaki as nothing less than “unbelievable.”

(Quick tangent: Sidney Crosby famously refined his shot firing into a clothes dryer in his parent’s basement; Laine learned to shoot using Coke cans attached to the four corners of a net in his backyard. He ruined a lot of cans and drank a lot of Coke, he says.)

(A second quick tangent: Laine does this thing during practice where he banks a puck off the boards, catches it softly with his stick blade and then juggles it using only the blade while he waits to take part in drills. It’s a demonstration of incredibly soft hands — and also a TV commercial waiting to happen.)

Laine called Tuesday’s game “a night I will remember for the rest of my life” on what was his biggest stage yet — a game in Washington. D.C. against Team USA, two days after the 15th anniversary of 9/11.

The fact it came against two Jets teammates in captain Blake Wheeler and defenceman Dustin Byfuglien just made it even more special.

It was by far Laine’s best effort in the three pre-tournament games he has played so far. And it suggests both that he can rise to an occasion and that the MVP honours he took down at last spring’s World Hockey Championship weren’t a fluke.

This kid can play already, and against the very best in the world.

But at least as much as what he’s done on the ice, it’s also what he’s done off the ice that has made Laine such a darling of the media right now.

Laine says what he means and he means what he says and that makes him as uncommon a hockey player off the ice as he is on it.

It is refreshingly rare in hockey to hear a player actually say what he thinks and fans everywhere would be better served if more hockey players spoke with such refreshing frankness.

But because they don’t, Laine’s frankness has been confused with brashness and before he’s even played a single NHL shift, he’s already rubbed some in the sport the wrong way.

It began last spring when Laine made headlines — and raised eyebrows — when he was quoted saying he felt he’d had a better season than Auston Matthews and clearly deserved to be the first-overall draft pick in June.

The fact Laine was right — he outplayed Matthews by many measures last season and capped off a remarkable year by taking down those MVP honours at the World Hockey Championship — was beside the point.

Hockey players just don’t talk like that — and especially not green youngsters.

And so I asked Laine here on Monday if he understood why some people took exception to such bold proclamations of self confidence.

It was an opportunity, I was expecting, for a very young man to talk about valuable lessons learned.

Instead — and I loved this part — he doubled down. “I know that’s how good I am and I can say that. It’s not a problem for me. And if that’s a problem for someone else, it’s not my problem. I don’t care what people think. I know I’m a good player and I’m going to stick with that.”

And with that, Laine was once again in the headlines.

By Tuesday, a popular hockey blog was running those quotes under the headline Patrik Laine Doesn’t Care If You Don’t Think He’s Great.

Now, there’s nothing wrong in that headline — that is, after all, basically what Laine said on Monday.

But there’s a nuance that seems to get lost with Laine in print. You can see for yourself with a Google search: his words regularly come across a lot more brash in print than when you actually watch him do an interview.

He sounds different than he reads, in other words. The way I took Laine’s comments on Monday was that he believes it is simply an empirically established fact that he is an outstanding hockey player and he’s not about to pretend he feels otherwise to maintain appearances.

You’re entitled to your own opinions, he seems to be saying, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.

Someone else said something similar a very long time ago: It really is hard to be humble when you’re great.

Without question, there’s a lot of brash young millionaires in pro hockey; Laine is not one of them, contrary to what you may have heard.

For starters, he’s uncommonly polite: he rises from his stool when reporters approach his locker, looks everyone in the eye as they ask him questions and then takes his time to offer a thoughtful and detailed response that makes you come away thinking he actually respects what you do.

He’ll learn. Boy, will he learn.

The Jets are the most buttoned down team in the NHL and the free-wheeling interviews Laine’s been doing until now are going to come to a stop when he gets to Winnipeg.

The Finns have simply been opening up their dressing room and letting Laine talk to whoever asks, for as long as they want. That will change dramatically with the Jets, who have always had minders listening in on every dressing room interview, ready to end those interviews the second things get, well, honest.

There is also the issue of how all this publicity for Laine will play in the Jets dressing room. It’s worth pointing out that the last Jets player who thought he was bigger than the team got his track suit thrown in the shower and then was run out of town a short time later in a trade.

I noticed Finnish captain Mikko Koivu was taping his stick and watching closely Monday morning as Laine held court before the media.

I wandered over to Koivu afterward and asked how it plays in the Finnish dressing room when a youngster like Laine is getting all the publicity.

“It’s been fine,” said Koivu. “You guys don’t know how he is in the room around all the guys. He’s very respectful and his work ethic is excellent. That’s something you always look at as a veteran is how the young kids commit. And he’s been very good with that.

“And in Finnish hockey generally, we’ve never really had a problem with (big egos).”

For what it’s worth, Laine was the last man off the ice both practices I saw this week.

Nobody knows better what awaits Laine once he gets to Winnipeg than Teemu Selanne and so I asked Selanne if Laine is going to have to be a little less, well, Laine in order to fit in once he gets to the NHL.

“That’s a great question,” said Selanne, who is with the Finnish team as a consultant this month. “And I don’t know that answer. I love to see guys with lots of confidence, but at the same time it has to come in a humble way. I’m not sure how it will go for him but it’s a good thing that his Mom is moving with him. Because he’s going to need a lot of help and support.”

Laine says his mother will accompany him to Winnipeg and he sounds just like any teenager when he’s asked what she will do for him. “The normal basic stuff at home — cooking and washing dishes and stuff like that.”

Sweet deal if you can get it. Laine says the two will live in a hotel to start, in part because he thinks it would be presumptuous to get a home in Winnipeg before he actually makes the team.

Selanne says his biggest concern when it comes to Laine isn’t how he will handle the media but how he will handle the monstrous expectations everyone has for him, including, by his own admission, Laine himself.

“The expectations right now are almost unfair,” says Selanne. “I think the fans, the media and the team has to be patient with him. People remember my rookie season when I came into the league, but I was already 22 when I started in the NHL, I’d already played in the Canada Cup, I’d played all over the place.

“It’s a totally different story when you’re 18 and haven’t really experienced much. It’s a new culture, a new city, a new style of hockey — there’s so much for him to learn and people forget that. Everyone just remembers there was another Finnish rookie who scored a lot of goals for Winnipeg, but the game is completely different now.”

Indeed, you can make a case that Selanne’s 76 goals as a Jets rookie in 1992-93 looks increasingly in today’s NHL like one of hockey’s unbreakable records, right alongside Bill Mosienko’s 21-second hat-trick.

Selanne says he will be watching closely to see how Laine, who until now has known only success in hockey, handles the inevitable disappointments and adversities that come with being a rookie in the NHL.

“I’ve told him to remember that you’re never as good as they say you are,” says Selanne, “and you’re also never as bad as they say your are.”

If the past week or so is any indication, Laine will be as hard on himself during the bad times as he is confident in himself the rest of the time.

Laine ripped himself publicly last week for his performance in Finland’s first pre-tournament game against Sweden, which suggests he may yet prove to be his own harshest critic.

The last word in all this goes to the kid. I asked him if he likes all the publicity and media.

“Yeah,” Laine replied, “just like everybody else.”

That’s a revealing answer, of course, because it suggests it hasn’t occurred to Laine that many — perhaps even most — superstar athletes actually loathe all the media that comes with having a special skill set.

It’s a good thing Laine likes it. Because this train is pulling out of the station at a high rate of speed.

There’s going to be no stopping it now.

Getzlaf scores in OT as Canada clips Russia

By The Associated Press

Ryan Getzlaf beat Sergei Bobrovsky on a breakaway at 3:29 of overtime to give Team Canada to a 3-2 victory over Team Russia in a World Cup of Hockey exhibition Wednesday night.

Bobrovsky made 45 stops, some of them spectacular, but couldn’t wrangle the puck when Getzlaf slipped it between his pads during the 3-on-3 extra session.

John Tavares and Patrice Bergeron scored for Canada. Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby assisted on Bergeron’s score while playing on home ice at Consol Energy Center.

Carey Price had 24 saves for Canada, which finished 2-1 in exhibitions before the eight-team tournament begins in Toronto this weekend.

Artemi Panarin had a goal and an assist for the Russians. Alexander Ovechkin also scored. Evgeni Malkin assisted on Ovechkin’s goal to match longtime Pittsburgh teammate Crosby.

The Canadians open the tournament Saturday against the Czech Republic, while Russia begins on Sunday against Sweden.

Canada is a heavy favourite to continue its run atop international play, a surge that started with a triumph at the 2010 Olympics and continued two years ago in Sochi when they grabbed gold again while the host Russians missed the medal stand completely.

Anything less than hearing “O Canada” play after the finals at the end of the month would be a disappointment, particularly on home ice. It’s a role Crosby and his countrymen thrive in though they’ve been a bit uneven during their three exhibitions, following up a 5-2 romp over the US last weekend with an up-and-down performance against Russia.

Crosby and Malkin both joked about facing off against each other on the same sheet of ice they’ve shared as teammates for a decade, with Crosby good naturally saying he may take a friendly shot at Malkin if the moment called for it. The moment ended up coming in the first period, when the two briefly met in the corner before Malkin skated away with both players unharmed.

Canada dominated the first period and took the lead when Crosby fed a streaking Bergeron, who slipped it by Bobrovsky to put the Canadians in front during a 20-minute stretch in which they out shot the Russians 14-5 and tilted the ice heavily to once side.

Russia slowly found its footing and finally converted when Malkin won a faceoff and dropped it to Panarin, who slipped it across the ice to Ovechkin. The Washington Capitals star drilled a one-time from his familiar spot in the left circle to tie it 3:40 into the third. Panarin put Russia up less than four minutes later when he jumped on a rebound to give the Russians the lead.

Tavares picked up his third goal in as many exhibitions by threading a wrist shot from the top of zone by Bobrovsky at 13:58. Bobrovsky sent the game to overtime with a series of spectacular stop in the final minutes of regulation, including a slick glove hand save against Crosby from in close.

Leon Draisaitl’s hat trick powers Europe past Sweden

By The Associated Press

Henrik Lundqvist got the hook after allowing five goals on 22 shots in Sweden’s 6-2 loss to Team Europe on Wednesday night in each team’s final pre-tournament game before the World Cup of Hockey.

Leon Draisaitl had a hat trick and Tomas Tatar and Thomas Vanek scored on the New York Rangers goaltender, who was a victim of giveaways and defensive miscues but wasn’t at his best. Jacob Markstrom replaced Lundqvist in the third period.

European captain Anze Kopitar added an empty-net goal.

Daniel Sedin scored on the power play and Patric Hornqvist at even strength for Sweden, which opens the World Cup on Sunday against high-powered Russia.

Jaroslav Halak stopped 34 of the 36 shots he faced to solidify the No. 1 goalie job for Europe, which looked ready to face the United States on Saturday after losing twice to the 23-and-under Team North America.

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