Hockey Canada fires back at IIHF article

The IIHF World Championships, held every summer (during the NHL
playoffs) that is supposed to feature the top talent from around the
world. Usually that’s the case, except when the players that are invited
are still in the playoffs or have some sort of injury that prevents
them from playing.

This season, a number of players have bowed out
of the Worlds, generally citing overall fatigue after a long season —
that included the Olympics — and likely a wholly disappointing playoffs
exit.

Szymon
Szemberg delivered a scathing attack
on those players that have
declined to play this season, saying that they have forgotten “what
brought them riches and fame”. He singles out a number of players, most
notably Sidney Crosby, who he says have no good excuse for not
attending. Tired? Ha! That’s just a wimp’s way out. Here are some
excerpts from his article:

You have heard this many
times before: “It’s an honour to represent your
country. I feel proud every time I put on the jersey.”

Well,
pride and honour seem to be very selective qualities. When a player
wants to play – in the Olympics, for example, where he finds the stage
big enough and the setting appealing enough – he talks about pride and
honour.

Tired is a divorced mother with two young kids who double
shifts as a
nurse assistant and cleaning lady to make ends meet.

Why is a
22-year-old Sidney Crosby tired when a 34-year-old Ryan Smyth is
answering the bell for his country despite having represented Canada at
the Worlds already on eight occasions?

He goes on to
question the decisions of Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Tomas
Holmstrom, Johan Franzen, Mark Streit, Niklas Backstrom, and Alexander
Steen, among others.

Deciding to single out Sidney Crosby, by far
the most polarizing name in hockey, was sure to draw the ire of some.
Before I get to my thoughts on this mess, here’s
Hockey Canada’s reaction:

Sidney Crosby‘s
the guy they singled out — he’s played in two finals (in 2008 and
2009), he’s played in the second round of the playoffs (this year), he’s
played in the Olympics for us,” said Salmond. “I don’t think it’s fair
to single him out. We respect where he is and we respect what he’s done
for us and I think what he’ll do for us in the future.”

Canadian
team captain wasn’t too happy either:

“I don’t think it’s fair to mention him,” said Whitney. “Obviously,
any big tournament would like to have one of the world’s top players,
(but) the IIHF doesn’t understand how hard the NHL is, how hard the
schedule is. …

“I think (the IIHF) should concentrate more on making it more
appealing for guys like (Crosby) to want to come over here and play.”

In principle, I can see where the Szemberg is coming from. The IIHF
goes to great lengths to put together some extremely competitive and
well-run international tournaments each season, and it’s frustrating
when the world’s best players turn them down.

Yet this is also a case of biting the hand that feeds you, as there
is likely zero chance the IIHF Worlds get any recognition without the
NHL players that attend each season.

This year, a good number of players invited to the Worlds played an
82-game season, in the Olympics and participated in the playoffs. I
don’t care if that player is 18 years old, that’s a heck of a lot of
hockey. With training camp starting in September, these players have
just a few months off to recuperate and take some time off. Some players
are able to continue to play or fight through injuries to play, but
that doesn’t mean they love the game any more than ones that turned down
a chance to play.

This is also a great chance for non-Olympic players to represent
their country internationally, with players like Steve Ott having a
blast in Germany.

As far as Crosby goes, if there is one player that no one should
question his loyalty to Team Canada it’s him. This is the guy who is the
savior of Canadian hockey, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime at
the Olympics. Pointing to Ovechkin and going “See!!” isn’t the same,
especially when you consider how things went for him and Russia in
Vancouver.

I understand the message, sort of, but that was far from the right
way to go about sending it.

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    These 2017 NHL Draft picks lacked hype … but not swagger

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    The interview process for draft prospects must be a real beating. Then again, it’s also an opportunity for hopefuls to push back.

    In the case of two smaller prospects, it meant providing some swagger in their answers, possibly impressing their new teams. If nothing else, Kailer Yamamoto and Michael DiPietro generated some refreshingly confident quotes.

    One would assume that the Edmonton Oilers picked Yamamoto with the 22nd choice for more than just a great answer alone … but still.

    Nice, right?

    Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek related a similar story about DiPietro, who the Vancouver Canucks nabbed with the 64th pick.

    Funny story: When one team at the NHL told him “We don’t think you can play in the NHL with our team, you’re too small” at the combine, he fired back with “well, I guess you have a problem with winning, then.” How do you not like that?

    If nothing else, those two aren’t shy.

    As a bonus story, check out the bumpy path Will Reilly – aka the “Mr. Irrelevant” of the 2017 NHL Draft – took to being chosen last overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins, via Puck Daddy’s Sean Leahy. From the sound of things, there are worse feelings than going 217th.

    The 2017 NHL Draft may have been “pumped down” from a hype perspective, yet it sounds like many of these prospects at least bring some moxie to the table.

    Kings, Golden Knights labeled 2017 NHL Draft winners; Bruins, not so much

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    It’s nearly certain that we won’t be able to determine the “winners and losers” of the 2017 NHL Draft until, say, 2022. If not later.

    Still, what fun is that?

    Quite a few outlets pegged some winners and losers, though sometimes the choices were more about themes like nations or player types than specific teams.

    For example: Puck Daddy gives a thumbs down to the “green room” experiment.

    Let’s take a look at some of the consensus picks.

    Winners

    Vegas Golden Knights

    GM George McPhee was dealt a bad hand when it comes to the lottery draft, so he instead made his own luck. And then he selected three players who could improve this team going forward.

    Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek especially liked the last two of their three first-rounders (Nick Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom), viewing Cody Glass as more of a no-brainer. Plenty of others were on board.

    Los Angeles Kings

    Gabe Vilardi fell to Los Angeles, whether it was because of shaky skating or some other reason. That potential steal (and some other shrewd moves) impressed the Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy, who assembled draft profiles for PHT.

    Again, Vilardi’s loss was considered the Kings’ gain, as slower skaters were considered losers by the likes of Post Media’s Michael Traikos.

    Philadelphia Flyers

    Boy, Ron Hextall is good at this thing, isn’t he? Philly drew high marks even beyond the layup of landing Nolan Patrick. The main area of disagreement revolved around the Brayden Schenn trade, though plenty came out on Hextall’s side there, too.

    Arizona Coyotes

    Boy, that negative press didn’t last long, did it? Between landing Niklas Hjalmarsson, Derek Stepan, and Antti Raanta in trades and savvy picks, they were a popular choice.

    Themes

    Smaller players, Sweden, and Finland drew semi-serious mentions as “winners.”

    Losers

    Boston Bruins

    The perception is that they played it too safe.

    Colorado Avalanche, for now?

    OK, this was more about draft weekend than picks, but people are criticizing Joe Sakic for standing pat. That could change, but the negative sentiment is there.

    Detroit Red Wings

    Another common choice. Some believe that their draft was the worst of them all, which isn’t great considering the declining opinion of GM Ken Holland overall.

    New York Rangers

    Lias Andersson was viewed as a reach by plenty, and his connection to the trade to Arizona might intensify the scrutiny.

    Themes

    Not a great draft for Russian-born players and/or guys who don’t skate quite swiftly.

    ***

    So, those are some of the near-consensus choices for winners and losers, via the brave souls who made rapid reactions to the 2017 NHL Draft.

    Ducks ink D Holzer to two-year deal reportedly worth $1.8M

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    As the dust settled on the expansion draft, the Anaheim Ducks’ defense is coming into focus.

    Sunday continued that pattern; the Ducks signed Korbinian Holzer to a two-year contract worth $1.8 million, according to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.

    You can break down the Ducks defense as more expensive players (Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, Cam Fowler, and Kevin Bieksa) and cheaper ones (Holzer, Brandon Montour, and Josh Manson).

    Only Vatanen, Lindholm and Holzer see contracts that go beyond 2017-18 – at least without an extension yet for the likes of Fowler and Manson – so Holzer provides a little bit of certainty.

    Is the $900K a minor overpay, though? Holzer played in 32 games for the Ducks this season after appearing in 29 in 2015-16. His impact has been pretty minimal, generating seven points while averaging 13:31 in ice time per contest (down from 14:45 the previous season).

    Granted he may get more opportunities to show what he’s capable of if the Ducks lose another piece. Then again, at 29, the Ducks likely know what they have.

    2017 Hockey Hall of Fame class to be named Monday; Selanne + who?

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    The 2017 Hockey Hall of Fame class is expected to be announced on Monday, and every indication is that Teemu Selanne will be on the list. Beyond that, well, there are a lot of question marks.

    NHL.com notes that there’s at least a possibility that Selanne will be the only NHL name to be part of this class, which would mark a first since 2010 (when Dino Ciccarelli was the lone addition).

    It’s a nice way to continue what’s been a buffet for hockey fans: the 2017 Stanley Cup Final’s conclusion, the expansion draft and then the 2017 NHL Draft. The HHOF announcements are a nice appetizer before free agency gets, well, frenzied?

    “The Finnish Flash” was also an obvious top choice in last year’s poll to see who should be in the class.

    Now, that doesn’t mean he is the only interesting name.

    For one thing, Daniel Alfredsson will be eligible for the first time, much like Selanne. “Alf” falls in the “Maybe” category with some interesting, debatable other options: Mark Recchi, Dave Andreychuk, Alex Mogilny, Jeremy Roenick, Paul Kariya, Chris Osgood, and more.

    The 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame class included Eric Lindros, Rogie Vachon, Sergei Makarov, and Pat Quinn.