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Enough Already About Toughness. Let's Think About Talent

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Old
05-12-2008, 04:51 PM
  #26
MTL-rules
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Originally Posted by JTG32005 View Post
You are saying this, but you just got thumped by a lower seed who just simply out toughed you in every aspect of the game. Montreal is hands down probably one of the top 5 talented teams in the league, but if you have 5 guys on the ice who don't want to get their noses dirty you're never going to win. Remove Komisarek and your toughness is cut in half. Some muckers and grinders need to be added to this roster this offseason if you want success to come.
Finishing 1st and being a top 8 team in the playoffs with mostly rookies...

I'd say that this team is already successfull...

Malone and Franzen are playing well because they have elite players around them doing all the skill works... put them in Mtl and they'll have zero impact...

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05-12-2008, 06:47 PM
  #27
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Originally Posted by LeafRefereeeeeees View Post
If you want my brutal assessment:

We have to continue improving both imo. I'm not married to our young guys. If we can make a move to upgrade our playoff toughness and not downgrade our skill like Ottawa did, I'm all for it.

It's not a black and white question. Look at Ribeiro. All he needed was a guy like Morrow and he's grown five feet.

The biggest problem imo is the puck movers and two-way defensemen. We need two more of those before Markov/Hammer get too old. Hopefully our farm has the answer. McDonough looks good on video. O'B is a good looking young guy. Komi is a solid complementary shutdown guy.

We also need to toughen up our bottom 6.

DING! DING! DING! Give the man a prize! This is exactly what we need to do with the players we do have. Surround them with the Ethan Moreaus and B. Morrows of the league.

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05-13-2008, 12:46 PM
  #28
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Could we take a break on talking compulsively about how what the Habs need is "grit" "toughness" " hard nose" players and all the rest of the Don Cherry bull? Look who's almost certainly going to be in the final: the Penguins and the Red Wings. Sure, they have plenty of guys who play tough ,drive the net,etc. BUT their real edge on the rest of the league is skill -- skill all over, skill in abundance, skill wherever you could want it. Put Hossa and Sundin on the Habs and I guarantee a Cup Final appearance at a minimum -- it's not going to happen, but that's what it would do. In the much-diluted and damaged NHL we have now, sure, a tough (but talented) team like last year's Ducks can out-do a talented (and not particularly tough) team like last year's Senators. By all means, lets be sure that we have the Claude Lemieuxs to go along with the Mario Lemieuxs (if only -- but you see the point; that type of player.) But in the long run, and almost always, teams win cups with great players.

Absolutely! I couldn't agree more. I was already sick to my stomach after game one of the Flyers series when the Anglo/Toronto/CBC/TSN/Score/Sportsnet media were saying the Flyers couldn't get a break. Excuse me? A freak deflection, a goal off a skate beside the net for them and we have two goalposts in the first period of the first game alone?

I kept waiting for Ron Maclean to explain the ruling on why the inevitable deflection of the scoreboard goal counter and for Millen to say "What a gritty goal" and for Bob Cole to say "Price looked shaky on that deflection off the jumbotron" when it happened.

Gritty? Gritty was being in ever single freaking game, never quitting and coming back to tie nearly every single time when the Flyers got the bulk of their goals on flukey/freak plays!

It's tired. Does anybody ever think about the grit it takes for the Euro kids to leave home at 17-19 yrs old, move thousands of miles away and not speak the language only to be told from day one that they're soft b/c of their passport. Jeez. How many gets at 18 get homesick when they move two hrs away--by car--to go to a university where practically everything is done for them anyway.

It didn't take any character for Andrei K to deal with his medical situation, move 8 times zones west, learn a language, learn a culture, be told he's soft and can't play defense, ride the buses for Hamilton and make the NHL.

Send Don's Kingston boys to Belarus. See how that goes.

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05-13-2008, 01:22 PM
  #29
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I see this team as a few pieces away from being serious contenders for the Cup. To start off with, we are not blessed like the Pens, who finished in the bottom 5 for eons, with top-end talent like Crosby/Malkin/Whitney/Staal/etc. Therefore, we must look at the Detroit model of success with drafting stars in the latter rounds of the Draft and cultivating them to elite status. For example, Kostitsyn sr./jr. could turn out to be our Zetterberg while Plekanec could turn out to be our Datsyuk. However, the most important aspect of the Red Wings success is experience. This is where the Habs are seriously lacking in, which will only be gotten with time. Now, back to what the team needs to be successful in the playoffs next season is three peices: a top-six forward with moxy and a nose for the net, a big and mobile number three centre, and a top-4 two-way d man. Ideal circumstances:

Kostitsyn-Plekanec-Kovalev
Kostitsyn-Koivu- ? (Rolston)
Latandresse- ? (Sundin)-Higgins
Lapierre-Chipchura-Begin
Kostopolous

Markov-Komisarek
? (Liles/Orpik/Norstrom/Stuart)-Hamrlik
Georges-O'Byrne/Valentenko
Bouillon.

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05-13-2008, 02:18 PM
  #30
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Originally Posted by Chris Nilan View Post
It didn't take any character for Andrei K to deal with his medical situation, move 8 times zones west, learn a language, learn a culture, be told he's soft and can't play defense, ride the buses for Hamilton and make the NHL.

Send Don's Kingston boys to Belarus. See how that goes.
I agree with most of your post, but your last sentence went over the top. In all fairness to players from both countries, and with total respect for the kids in Belarus who have much more to overcome outside of hockey in order to come to NA, Don's "Kingston boys" would go over there and deliver a sound drubbing to any club of a similar age. O calamity, it would not be even close.

As for having to go *live* there & play hockey, well I expect they would run home asap. "Oh Toto I don't think we're in Napanee anymore !"

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05-13-2008, 03:13 PM
  #31
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Originally Posted by bwoar View Post
I agree with most of your post, but your last sentence went over the top. In all fairness to players from both countries, and with total respect for the kids in Belarus who have much more to overcome outside of hockey in order to come to NA, Don's "Kingston boys" would go over there and deliver a sound drubbing to any club of a similar age. O calamity, it would not be even close.

As for having to go *live* there & play hockey, well I expect they would run home asap. "Oh Toto I don't think we're in Napanee anymore !"
Belarus was eliminated by the Czechs in a shootout. They could have used more depth than a couple of Kostitsyns. I'm not too impressed with all this rah-rah nationalism. I distinctly recall Canada being upset by the Swiss a few years ago.

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05-13-2008, 03:15 PM
  #32
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Originally Posted by MTL-rules View Post
Finishing 1st and being a top 8 team in the playoffs with mostly rookies...

I'd say that this team is already successfull...

Malone and Franzen are playing well because they have elite players around them doing all the skill works... put them in Mtl and they'll have zero impact...
I wouldn't be so sure of that. I'd like to have seen them in place against the Flyers, and you could add Holmstrom to that mix.

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05-13-2008, 03:50 PM
  #33
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Once again, we didnt lose to philly because of the lack of toughness, we lost because of oure lack of depth.

Begin-Smoke-Kosto
Streit-Lapierre-Dandy/Lats

We could also upgrade
Bouillon-Brisebois

This is an horrible bottom 6 forwards we had, if you look at the red wings, their 4 lines can hurt you and their defense (who is really small yet poised and tough). Signing big names is not the way to go, depth is. Carbo forgot what brought him to the playoffs in stiing Grabo and Ryder for pluggers.

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05-13-2008, 03:51 PM
  #34
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Originally Posted by MTL-rules View Post
Finishing 1st and being a top 8 team in the playoffs with mostly rookies...

I'd say that this team is already successfull...

Malone and Franzen are playing well because they have elite players around them doing all the skill works... put them in Mtl and they'll have zero impact...
I wouldnt go as far as "zero impact", but what you're saying is true... Malone was a nobody (kinda) until Crosby and Malkin became Penguins...

Holmstromm ? good player, thanks for the passes he receives from great players like Datsyuk and Zetterberg though, otherwise he'd be just a little better that what most teams have on their 3rd line...

Theses are the kind of players needed ONCE you have your skilled players, we can say whatever we want, sure the Holmstromm and Malone are doing good, but the reason the Pens are going to the finals is Crosby/Malkin... same for the Wings, thatnk to the Datsyuk, Zett, Lidstrom and Rafalski... without them, Malone and Holmstromm would be golfing right now...



Now... do we have player(s) of Crosby, Malkin, Zetterberg, Datsyuk or Lidstrom caliber ?


Hell! our best player just ended one of his best season with a PPG... no disrespect to him, but wich is easier, stop a 70 pts a season player or one of the guys I named ?

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Old
05-13-2008, 03:59 PM
  #35
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Originally Posted by Corey View Post
Belarus was eliminated by the Czechs in a shootout. They could have used more depth than a couple of Kostitsyns. I'm not too impressed with all this rah-rah nationalism. I distinctly recall Canada being upset by the Swiss a few years ago.
Really? Hmm..... I recall Canada getting bounced too. Should I stop thinking that Canada still produces the greatest hockey players in the largest amounts?

I'm sure Belarus could've done better with more depth. And... ???

Let me go OT for a sec:

What you call "rah-rah nationalism" I call an unwillingness to apologize for being good. I'm sick and tired of people saying that's it's racist, or even inappropriate at all, to acknowledge the fact that Canadian kids on most *club teams* can tour the world playing the best *club teams* and expect to win almost every time. At the WJC, anything can happen. At the Olympics, well, we know it's not automatic at all. But I was distinctly talking about junior age Canadian kids playing on a club team. There isn't a club team in Belarus, of equal age, that could match up. Not with the kind of emphasis that this country puts on hockey at such an early age.

If there's anyone out there who has to cling to the notion of dumb "nationalism" to downplay the facts, or degrade the messenger, then I submit you don't know your hockey or you're embarassed to be Canadian. Shame on you.

I really was trying not to get into this kind of argument, since it seems to be verboten on this board in particular to say so out loud, but when we're going to think about talent over toughness then I'll plant my flag right here and now: Canada is best place to look for talent that *also* comes with toughness. (My Canada includes Quebec, for the record.)

Are Canadian players the only skilled and gritty players in the world? No way.

But if you want skill that contains hard grit it's not a bad place to do some careful looking. I don't think the Habs' brass has scouted Canada very well in the last 10 years and it's a concern of mine that better evaluations be made of Canadian talent at the draft table. It makes me really wonder about people who don't get this. All of the years of success that our junior teams have had, going back say 20 years, then looking at the results in the NHL, and still people don't want to admit the truth. It's in style to be a real "diversity" person these days, to be so very correct as to say that every country produces players on an equal level. That's bird-brained.

I have real hope when I see guys like Ryan White coming up through the ranks. When I see Gui Latendresse progress so well like he has this year. When I watch P.K. Subban fly around the ice. Does it makes them automatically better than Weber/Emelin/A.Kost ?? No, it does not. But undeniably there's a streak of toughness, a hard dough, a touch of steel in the backs of Canadian kids that is more more universally found in Canada than it is elsewhere. In a country that feeds its young on milk that flows from the Stanley Cup via the teats of the CBC and RDS, you are more likely to find people who will do anything to win that prize than anywhere else in the world.

In short, find the most talented Canadians in the draft, and over the long haul you will end up with a team that is both tough and highly skilled.

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05-13-2008, 07:07 PM
  #36
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Originally Posted by SherbrookeW View Post
Could we take a break on talking compulsively about how what the Habs need is "grit" "toughness" " hard nose" players and all the rest of the Don Cherry bull? Look who's almost certainly going to be in the final: the Penguins and the Red Wings. Sure, they have plenty of guys who play tough ,drive the net,etc. BUT their real edge on the rest of the league is skill -- skill all over, skill in abundance, skill wherever you could want it. Put Hossa and Sundin on the Habs and I guarantee a Cup Final appearance at a minimum -- it's not going to happen, but that's what it would do. In the much-diluted and damaged NHL we have now, sure, a tough (but talented) team like last year's Ducks can out-do a talented (and not particularly tough) team like last year's Senators. By all means, lets be sure that we have the Claude Lemieuxs to go along with the Mario Lemieuxs (if only -- but you see the point; that type of player.) But in the long run, and almost always, teams win cups with great players.
It's mostly BS. The 2 things that hurt the Habs in the playoffs were 1-inconsistant goaltending(Price needs experience) 2-not scoring enough garbage goals(I think part of it is experience also).

They definitely don't need to tear up the team, just maybe add a bit here and there and let the kids grow...

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05-13-2008, 07:08 PM
  #37
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DING! DING! DING! Give the man a prize! This is exactly what we need to do with the players we do have. Surround them with the Ethan Moreaus and B. Morrows of the league.

That's why I have been saying for months that Koivu needs Latendresse and vice versa. Plekanec had A.Kostitsyn who goes to the net and is strong in the corners.

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05-14-2008, 12:04 AM
  #38
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It's not just facing the physical teams. The Habs also need a few burly players if they want to slow down a team like the Penguins. I can't think of a Habs line that would be up to it. While the Habs beat them the first 2 times they met this season, the Pens ihave improved too much for them to do it now.

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05-15-2008, 11:10 AM
  #39
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Originally Posted by Chris Nilan View Post

Gritty? Gritty was being in ever single freaking game, never quitting and coming back to tie nearly every single time when the Flyers got the bulk of their goals on flukey/freak plays!

It's tired. Does anybody ever think about the grit it takes for the Euro kids to leave home at 17-19 yrs old, move thousands of miles away and not speak the language only to be told from day one that they're soft b/c of their passport. Jeez. How many gets at 18 get homesick when they move two hrs away--by car--to go to a university where practically everything is done for them anyway.

It didn't take any character for Andrei K to deal with his medical situation, move 8 times zones west, learn a language, learn a culture, be told he's soft and can't play defense, ride the buses for Hamilton and make the NHL.

Send Don's Kingston boys to Belarus. See how that goes.
Terrific points conveniently overlooked by the euro-hater-gritty-canadian crowd.

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05-15-2008, 11:22 AM
  #40
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As for having to go *live* there & play hockey, well I expect they would run home asap. "Oh Toto I don't think we're in Napanee anymore !"
Are you acknowledging a mental toughness in the Belarus players that's lacking in the Canadian kids?

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05-15-2008, 11:31 AM
  #41
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Really? Hmm..... I recall Canada getting bounced too. Should I stop thinking that Canada still produces the greatest hockey players in the largest amounts?

I'm sure Belarus could've done better with more depth. And... ???

Let me go OT for a sec:

What you call "rah-rah nationalism" I call an unwillingness to apologize for being good. I'm sick and tired of people saying that's it's racist, or even inappropriate at all, to acknowledge the fact that Canadian kids on most *club teams* can tour the world playing the best *club teams* and expect to win almost every time. At the WJC, anything can happen. At the Olympics, well, we know it's not automatic at all. But I was distinctly talking about junior age Canadian kids playing on a club team. There isn't a club team in Belarus, of equal age, that could match up. Not with the kind of emphasis that this country puts on hockey at such an early age.

If there's anyone out there who has to cling to the notion of dumb "nationalism" to downplay the facts, or degrade the messenger, then I submit you don't know your hockey or you're embarassed to be Canadian. Shame on you.

I really was trying not to get into this kind of argument, since it seems to be verboten on this board in particular to say so out loud, but when we're going to think about talent over toughness then I'll plant my flag right here and now: Canada is best place to look for talent that *also* comes with toughness. (My Canada includes Quebec, for the record.)

Are Canadian players the only skilled and gritty players in the world? No way.

But if you want skill that contains hard grit it's not a bad place to do some careful looking. I don't think the Habs' brass has scouted Canada very well in the last 10 years and it's a concern of mine that better evaluations be made of Canadian talent at the draft table. It makes me really wonder about people who don't get this. All of the years of success that our junior teams have had, going back say 20 years, then looking at the results in the NHL, and still people don't want to admit the truth. It's in style to be a real "diversity" person these days, to be so very correct as to say that every country produces players on an equal level. That's bird-brained.

I have real hope when I see guys like Ryan White coming up through the ranks. When I see Gui Latendresse progress so well like he has this year. When I watch P.K. Subban fly around the ice. Does it makes them automatically better than Weber/Emelin/A.Kost ?? No, it does not. But undeniably there's a streak of toughness, a hard dough, a touch of steel in the backs of Canadian kids that is more more universally found in Canada than it is elsewhere. In a country that feeds its young on milk that flows from the Stanley Cup via the teats of the CBC and RDS, you are more likely to find people who will do anything to win that prize than anywhere else in the world.

In short, find the most talented Canadians in the draft, and over the long haul you will end up with a team that is both tough and highly skilled.
What do you personally know about the "streak of toughness, a hard dough, a touch of steel in the back..." as it relates to Emelin for instance?

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05-15-2008, 12:30 PM
  #42
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It's been a mantra for a decade now.

The Habs are in need of leadership, grit... and a legit enforcer.

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05-15-2008, 12:42 PM
  #43
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That's why I have been saying for months that Koivu needs Latendresse and vice versa. Plekanec had A.Kostitsyn who goes to the net and is strong in the corners.
If Lats were really good at going to the net he would be playing regularly with Koivu. He's had his opportunities to shine but he hasn't taken advantage of them. He's not yet Holmstrom or Franzen.

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05-15-2008, 12:47 PM
  #44
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It's been a mantra for a decade now.

The Habs are in need of leadership, grit... and a legit enforcer.
Maybe it's the style we play. Detroit always seems to have puck support and they have 3 elite puck movers on the blueline. They also have guys who go to the net AND STAY THERE (Holmstrom and Franzen). These same guys also dig the puck off the wall and give it to their other skill guys and THEN they go to the net again.

Also, when the late man comes into the picture, if the play isn't there, he'll go down low into the cycle right away. I don't notice us doing that. Usually we lose the puck soon afterwards. Detroit has way more possession time down low than we do.

Detroit also has a more active trap with the defense stunting up into the neutral zone.

Hey, gotta compare yourself to the best.

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05-15-2008, 01:00 PM
  #45
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Are you acknowledging a mental toughness in the Belarus players that's lacking in the Canadian kids?
No, I'm acknowledging that living conditions in Belarus are somewhat below what Canadian kids are used to.

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05-15-2008, 01:22 PM
  #46
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What do you personally know about the "streak of toughness, a hard dough, a touch of steel in the back..." as it relates to Emelin for instance?
I personally know nothing of Emelin. I haven't seen him play. I definitely didn't imply that he wasn't tough, though.

Quit cherrypicking, read my post again and consider the context of what you've quoted. I specifically said that those qualities are more universally (i.e. MOST likely) to be found in Canadian kids. As in percentage-wise Canadian kids have it more. Often that may come with less overall skills, but the mettle is more abundant, more often in Canadian kids. This is not meant to denigrate European or Russian players, nor to intimate that entire countries of kids can't find a handful of guts. I know very well that's bull, we have a terrific captain who is the proof !!

To be very clear: It think it's an obvious fact that you will encounter those "gritty" qualities more often in Canada than elsewhere. I would like to see better Canadian scouting by the Habs to take advantage, so that if we have to choose between equal skill / talent, we favour the people who come from the greatest - and toughest - hockey nation in the world.

Istvan you ought to actually write a post with your opinion and back yourself up, if you are going to argue. I don't mind disagreement, hell, that's what HF is for. But have the courtesy to put it out there instead of lobbing useless one-liners. I've made my point of view clear and am willing to defend it - just what are you trying to say?

I suspect that your reticence is hiding very little original thought.

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05-15-2008, 02:16 PM
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I personally know nothing of Emelin. I haven't seen him play. I definitely didn't imply that he wasn't tough, though.

Quit cherrypicking, read my post again and consider the context of what you've quoted. I specifically said that those qualities are more universally (i.e. MOST likely) to be found in Canadian kids. As in percentage-wise Canadian kids have it more. Often that may come with less overall skills, but the mettle is more abundant, more often in Canadian kids. This is not meant to denigrate European or Russian players, nor to intimate that entire countries of kids can't find a handful of guts. I know very well that's bull, we have a terrific captain who is the proof !!

To be very clear: It think it's an obvious fact that you will encounter those "gritty" qualities more often in Canada than elsewhere. I would like to see better Canadian scouting by the Habs to take advantage, so that if we have to choose between equal skill / talent, we favour the people who come from the greatest - and toughest - hockey nation in the world.

Istvan you ought to actually write a post with your opinion and back yourself up, if you are going to argue. I don't mind disagreement, hell, that's what HF is for. But have the courtesy to put it out there instead of lobbing useless one-liners. I've made my point of view clear and am willing to defend it - just what are you trying to say?

I suspect that your reticence is hiding very little original thought.
I would like to see some statistical data that the combination of skill and toughness is more abundant in Canadian players vs players from any other country. Assumptions don't always hold true. Using terms such as "undeniable" and "obvious fact" seems disengenous in the absence of data. I think it's possible that Finland, for instance, produces a similar percentage of skilled and tough players to Canada. I don't know this but I don't discount it. Then of course we may need to back up and be sure that we are using the same definition of toughness. I think that toughness, however we define it, is universal. I don't care where the Habs scout as long as they can ice a team that can compete for the Stanley Cup.

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05-15-2008, 02:38 PM
  #48
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I would like to see some statistical data that the combination of skill and toughness is more abundant in Canadian players vs players from any other country. Assumptions don't always hold true. Using terms such as "undeniable" and "obvious fact" seems disengenous in the absence of data. I think it's possible that Finland, for instance, produces a similar percentage of skilled and tough players to Canada. I don't know this but I don't discount it. Then of course we may need to back up and be sure that we are using the same definition of toughness. I think that toughness, however we define it, is universal. I don't care where the Habs scout as long as they can ice a team that can compete for the Stanley Cup.
I think hockey's gotten to the point where tough, gritty play is universal. Some countries have charcteristics, ie, I don't see many Russian grinder types, but toughness in terms of willingness to play thru stuff is no longer a Canadian thing. If fighting is really what we're talking about, well Canadian kids for the most part are brought through Jr. with this as part of the game.

Pro or con, that element is most often NA, and it seems that European players who can deliver a big hit, but for the most part don't fight, are criticized for not doing so, as there seems to be a weird notion that body checking should be relative to fighting. I wonder what part of Sweden Gainey's from ?

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05-15-2008, 03:40 PM
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The Habs don't lack talent. They don't lack grit or toughness in an overall team sense. But they do lack a top 6 player with a strong and consistent physical game. In the same way that if the team didn't have Kovalev, we'd be saying that the team has talent and skill overall, but lacks a gamebreaker. The Habs, IMO, need one player who can play a lot of minutes in different situations and be a constant physical presence.

Skill needs room on the ice, and sometimes you simply need a bulldozer on the wing to make that room. Both the Boston and Philly series revealed that the Habs are very reliant on speed and skill to create space and scoring chances. Of course those are crucial to a team's success. But when Boston and Philly played tight team defence, taking away time and space from the skilled forwards, they were stumped. They just couldn't get to the net.

Apart from Koivu and Kovalev, Higgins and SKostitsyn showed some willingness to play that game. While you want every player to be willing, you can't expect your smaller skilled players to always go to the front of the net to be abused by the Hatchers and Charas of the league. Likewise, you don't just want your skilled players to be willing to battle in the corners, you also want a player who relishes going into the corners to really give it to the other team's defencemen.

I don't think a trade or UFA is a realistic option. Latendresse has to take a leap in his development next year. Or we have to hope that Pacioretty somehow makes the quantum jump from college to NHL one year after being drafted. But it is a weakness, IMO.

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05-15-2008, 04:19 PM
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Vlad The Impaler
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcphee View Post
I think hockey's gotten to the point where tough, gritty play is universal. Some countries have charcteristics, ie, I don't see many Russian grinder types, but toughness in terms of willingness to play thru stuff is no longer a Canadian thing. If fighting is really what we're talking about, well Canadian kids for the most part are brought through Jr. with this as part of the game.
Yup.

There are universal characteristics to hockey. Where I think North American players have an advantage is in game culture.

North American players have been exposed to thousands of hours of NHL play through TV and coaching style. They "get" NHL refereeing and NHL game flow.

A lot of Europeans seem to suffer from the differences at times. Guys like Havlat and Kovalev are still prone to stupid retaliation penalties after years of play. And new guys like Kosty Jr. seem to be hit hard by the culture shock.

There's something very... "arbitrary" about the way this league enforces the rulebook and how players are expected to react.

I kind of see it as visiting another country and expecting to blend by only knowing the letter of the law. You'll still have a hard time to adjust because there's this gazillion things, unwritten laws, that you are expected to follow. Only time will allow you to blend and chances are even after several years, you'll still revert to what you grew up with at times.

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