Monday, January 5, 2009

Bronze Today Gold Tomorrow

Finishing 3rd is sometimes one of those heartbreaking events that can help fuel a fire or damage one's confidence. Judging from the way Evgeny Grachev (2008 3rd) played during the medal round of the World Under-20 Championships then believe the former.

Those who have been following Grachev like we have all season tend to think that Grachev could have played better during these games. That is a hard thing to argue with unless this was your first experience watching Grachev play.

Grachev and his Russian teammates earned that bronze medal by defeating the surprising Slovaks 5-2 with Grachev earning an assist in this game. Grachev finished his first WJC with 2-3-5 +3 4 PIMs in 7 games.

On the surface those numbers do not look bad given that this was playing against the best of his age group peers. However we want to see Grachev learn one lesson from this event and that is from this point on; do not take a back seat to anyone else, be the physical force you can be.

The Ranger's other representative Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) finished with 0-6-6 even 10 PIMs as his Czech Republic finished 6th and to be honest, Kundratek was the better player between the 2 Ranger prospects. We want him to make sure he packed his offense for his return to Medicine Hat.


Other Prospect News

Chris Doyle (2008 5th) missed the weekend games due to a pinched nerve in his back (thanks to Charles Reid of the PEI Guardian for the report). Doyle it appears has been playing with this injury for the last few weeks and then the injury got worse after Doyle delivered a check against Halifax.

The pinched nerve explains why Doyle's offense has slowed down during the last month and the news gets worse as there is no timetable for his return. We give Doyle high marks for playing as long as he did with that injury.

Antoine Lafleur (2007 2nd) appears to have won the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies starting goalie position after the Huskies traded Matthew Dopud to Rimouski (along with 2 others) for 6 draft picks. We wonder if the Huskies are looking more towards the future as they are currently 8th in the QMJHL and starting to fade.

Lafleur now has his best chance to show his skills or risk the Rangers not signing him at the end of this junior season. Lafleur has the talent, has the size (6'5) and the skill set to become a legit NHL prospect; the problem is that does Lafleur have the ability to develop the consistency to play at the higher levels.


We was Wrong

Congrats to Canada for defeating Sweden 5-1 and earning their record 5th straight gold medal at the World Under-20 Championships. We really thought that Sweden with all their talent would finally put an end to the Canadian run but credit Pat Quinn and his staff for an excellent job.

And before anyone moves Quinn to the list of possible replacements for Tom Renney; do not bother as Quinn has found a place where he is a winner and can make a huge difference. At his age; he does not need to screw with the NHL anymore and has found his niche.

Leave Quinn as the National coach of Canada's teams and this will not be the last gold that Canada wins. Quinn also coached Canada's Under-18 to gold last season so let him coach the Olympic team as well as the Under-20 team.

What Canada did by having Quinn coach their national teams is a lesson that USA hockey badly needs to learn. A full-time coach to develop a full-time program which just keeps developing winners.

Bad news folks this was a very young Canadian team that won in 2009, skip the 2010 games and just give Canada the gold as nobody else is in their class. Canada loses the gold next year only if they beat themselves.

(Grachev courtesy of the Brampton Battalion)

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