Monday, February 23, 2015

Where is the creativity? . . . Giants lose their captain . . . Cougars big in Quesnel

Former NHLer Igor Larionov, who first starred with Red Army, has written an intriguing piece that appears on The Players’ Tribune website. For the most part, he deals with the lack of creativity in the North American game.
In part, Larionov writes:
“The problem is more philosophical and starts way before players get to the NHL. It’s easier to destroy than to create. As a coach, it’s easier to tell your players to suffocate the opposing team and not turn the puck over. There are still players whose imagination and creativity capture the Soviet spirit — Johnny Gaudreau in Calgary, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in Chicago just to name a few. However, they are becoming exceptions to the rule. Many young players who are intelligent and can see the game four moves ahead are not valued. They’re told “simple, simple, simple.
“That mentality is kind of boring. Nobody wants to get fired. Nobody wants to get sent down to the minors. If you look at the coaches in Juniors and minor league hockey, many of them were not skill players. It’s a lot of former enforcers and grinders who take these coaching jobs. Naturally, they tell their players to be just like them. Their players are 17, 18 years old — younger than I was when I joined the Red Army team.
“Say what you want about the Whiplash mentality (or the Soviet mentality), but if coaches are going to push kids at that age, why are they pushing them to play a simple game? Why aren’t coaches pushing them to create a masterpiece?
“Many young players who are intelligent and can see the game four moves ahead are not valued.”
The complete piece is right here and it’s well worth your time.
The Vancouver Giants have lost F Dalton Sward, their captain, perhaps for the remainder of the season. Sward suffered a break to his left hand during a 1-0 victory over the visiting Kamloops Blazers on Saturday and the Giants say he’ll sit for up to six weeks. . . . Sward, 20, has played in 294 regular-season WHL games, all with the Giants. . . . Meanwhile, F Matt Bellerive, who has been out with an illness since Jan. 25, is back practising; however, he has yet to be cleared for contact. . . . Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province has more on the Giants right here.
My friend Dickson Liong was there last week when the Vancouver Giants held Acceptance Day as they played host to the Moose Jaw Warriors. For Liong, whose stories you sometimes find on this blog, Acceptance Day has more than a little personal meeting. . . . His story is right here.
The Prince George Cougars began their trip to Kent, Wash., on Monday, by stopping in Quesnel to practise and hang out with players from the minor hockey association there. The Cougars will be in Williams Lake today (Tuesday) and 100 Mile House on Wednesday. . . . At day’s end Monday, the Cougars presented the Quesnel Minor Hockey Association with a cheque for $1,500. That resulted in the following tweet from Quesnel native Mitch Love, a former WHL player who now is an assistant coach with the Everett Silvertips. . . .


The Red Deer Rebels have added F Reese Johnson, 16, to their roster, bringing him in from the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers, whose season is over. . . . Johnson had 38 points, 23 of them goals, in 43 games. . . . The Rebels are without injured forwards Conner Bleackley, Brooks Maxwell and Evan Polei, so Johnson could get some playing time. . . . His older brother, Wyatt, has 23 goals and 23 assists with the Rebels, who next play Wednesday in Edmonton. . . .
Is there anyone who is hotter than Portland F Oliver Bjorkstrand? He has at least one goal in eight straight games. In that eight-game streak, he has put up 21 points, 12 of them goals. . . . Bjorkstrand played for Denmark at the WJC. Since returning, he has 42 points, including 22 goals, in 18 games. On the season, he has 82 points, including 43 goals, in 46 games. . . .
F Aaron Macklin of the Prince George Cougars will sit for a game after instigating a fight in the last five minutes of Saturday’s game against the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Cougars have been fined $500 for that incident. . . . Meanwhile, the Regina Pats were fined $250 for a warmup violation against the visiting Red Deer Rebels on Saturday. I have long believed that a “warmup violation” is when the pre-game coffee isn’t hot enough.

“According to the New York-based Women’s Sports Foundation,” writes Roy MacGregor of The Globe and Mail, “a survey of American studies of high-school and college athletes suggests that “girls and women suffer from concussions at higher rates than boys and men in similar sports – often significantly higher.” . . . MacGregor’s complete story is right here.


In Saskatoon, F Taylor Cooper scored the only goal of a shootout to give the Regina Pats a 5-4 victory over the Blades. . . . The Pats have won each of the last 14 regular-season meetings between these teams. . . . Cooper was the first shooter in the shootout and his goal stood up as the winner. . . . The Blades led 1-0 after the first period and had 2-0 and 3-1 leads in the second and third periods. . . . F Rykr Cole scored his seven goal at 5:47 of the third to get the Pats’ comeback started. . . . Cooper, in his first game back after being out with an undisclosed injury, tied it with his 22nd goal at 7:28 and F Luc Smith gave the visitors the lead with his second goal of the season at 9:04. . . . Saskatoon F Ryan Graham forced OT with his 16th goal at 9:48. . . . Cooper also had an assist. . . . The Blades got shorthanded goals from F Brett Stovin and F Nick Zajac. Stovin has 25 goals; Zajac has nine. . . . Graham also had an assist, and Saskatoon D Amil Krupic had two assists. . . . Regina G Daniel Wapple stopped 40 shots, eight more than Saskatoon’s Nik Amundrud. . . . The game, which started at 11:30 a.m., was billed as Team Up For Respect. Attendance was announced as 8,681. . . . Each team was 0-for-4 on the PP. . . . The Pats lost F Austin Wagner, who needed help getting to the dressing room after a third-period collision with D Colby Williams, a teammate. Wagner didn’t return. . . . Regina (33-19-7) is second in the East Division, 10 points ahead of Swift Current. The Pats have won three in a row. . . . The Blades (17-39-4) have lost four straight (0-3-1). . . . Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has a game story right here.


(all times local)
Kootenay at Swift Current, 7 p.m.
Portland vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.
Calgary vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:05 p.m.

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