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10-29-2013, 06:12 AM
Mr. Know-It-Nothing
Join Date: Oct 2009
Country: Finland
Posts: 5,638
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While I generally see Erkka's point that the Olympics are generally not a tournament for the inexperienced, and I can especially understand how putting a full unit of them out there at once can be a big risk, but does that really mean you have to totally go to the other end of the spectrum and demand that every player of the squad is not a rookie?

You don't really find a coach who's more seasoned than Erkka. Yet when I look at his comments, I get the feeling that doesn't he really realize that players come in different size, shapes, their fitness and skill levels and overall hockey sense vary greatly. Some may have certain aspects off the charts, while others are far below the average required for a tournament like this. And no matter how much experience a player has, he can't use it to make up for shortcomings in those departments.

Don't get me wrong, experience is an important quality. It's a highly important team quality. Having a squad make-up that can allow you to have enough experience to throw on the ice in any situation is a desirable spot to be for any coach. However, that does not mean one should demand a certain level of experience from every individual player - especially if that means major sacrifices to those departments you can't make up with experience.

I got extremely uneasy when I perused through Erkka's comments yesterday. I'm fully aware that sometimes a man can simply pick his words badly and the media - especially in Internet journalism - is simply publishing a lift here and there, which may further stilt ones meaning, but still. When asked for his thoughts specifically concerning the youths, simply saying "every player who can prove they can play on high enough level is a viable candidate, no matter their age or origins" would have sufficed. But instead, Erkka said something along the lines: "They're the guys on the bubble. We need to meet them, see them play, and while it is not impossible to make it without previous experience from major tournaments, one needs to put up good showings."

Does that sound like a coach who's seriously considering them? Not really. Sounds more like a coach who's paying the young ones some lip service, but is simply looking for any excuse to drop them out.

I've always thought what makes some coaches overvalue experience as an attribute. Sometimes it feels like a simple excuse. The truth could be, that you're thinking along the lines of having a certain squad with certain players. Sure, some of them may be a bit past their prime, but you still know 'em and have good memories of them. Now, all of a sudden, out of the left field there's some new kid doing some ripples. He looks fast, skilled, and ready. And he's threatening the very slot you had, in your mind, already dealt to a more familiar guy. Yet you just don't have the heart to leave the old veteran out. You let sentimentality get on the way of reason.

A coach who thinks like that is not cut out for his job. And I really hope Erkka is not really a coach like that, because he can be down right brilliant in every other aspect of it.

In the end, it's a call no one should make all by himself. And I think there's one kind of a guy who knows what it takes even better than the coach - a player who's been in a spot like that before. In the end, they're the guys who will be heroes or losers based on the outcome. Not the coach.

So let's take Määttä for example. Jussi Jokinen has been to the Olympics before, and he's been to numerous World Championships. And for technically every instance, he's been a top-six player for Team Finland. He sure should know what it's like to be out there when the game is on the line. And if he says a kid like Määttä should make it, it's really an opinion no one should argue with.

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