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Latvia WJC Discussion

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Old
12-10-2011, 06:36 AM
  #26
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Originally Posted by vorky View Post
I hope he will never play CHL.
I would rather see him going over to NA, if he really is the real deal. He would get much bigger attention from NHL scouts and NA/Latvian media. Would love another "Girgensons" case so soon again.

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12-10-2011, 12:17 PM
  #27
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I would rather see him going over to NA, if he really is the real deal. He would get much bigger attention from NHL scouts and NA/Latvian media. Would love another "Girgensons" case so soon again.
Exactly. There's no way any of them have a chance of getting drafted, not to mention making it to the NHL, without coming over. I suppose if they're content with being nothing more than third or fourth line players in the KHL there's no reason to make the move, but every Latvian that's played a game in the NHL in the past 20 years has gone the North American route.

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12-10-2011, 01:12 PM
  #28
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Exactly. There's no way any of them have a chance of getting drafted, not to mention making it to the NHL, without coming over. I suppose if they're content with being nothing more than third or fourth line players in the KHL there's no reason to make the move, but every Latvian that's played a game in the NHL in the past 20 years has gone the North American route.
nobody cares about NHL

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12-10-2011, 01:45 PM
  #29
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Originally Posted by v-man View Post
but every Latvian that's played a game in the NHL in the past 20 years has gone the North American route.
Balderis, Kercs, Pantelejevs...

Not only that, but playing in NA doesn't seem to have hurt Sprukts, Karsums or Darzins career's, does it?

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12-10-2011, 02:09 PM
  #30
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Balderis, Kercs, Pantelejevs...
Clever, but Balderis was over 20 years ago, and the other guys did play in the lower NA leagues once it was an option before having their cup of coffee in the NHL

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12-12-2011, 05:40 AM
  #31
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Not only that, but playing in NA doesn't seem to have hurt Sprukts, Karsums or Darzins career's, does it?
Not to mention Daugavinsh; to my surprise he managed to get into the NHL while playing for the Sens who have many good prospects right now.

The decision to leave for the CHL will hardly ruin Bukarts' career, and honestly I don't think that most young euro players suffer from playing in NA (there are exceptions), though it hurts their local hockey development system. If they leave at an early age, then the competition in their former league becomes worse and the local fans don't get a chance to see them play live. That's just my opinion.

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12-12-2011, 12:12 PM
  #32
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The decision to leave for the CHL will hardly ruin Bukarts' career, and honestly I don't think that most young euro players suffer from playing in NA (there are exceptions), though it hurts their local hockey development system. If they leave at an early age, then the competition in their former league becomes worse and the local fans don't get a chance to see them play live. That's just my opinion.
Yeah, but until Latvia has significantly more coaches capable of teaching the game at a high level, the best players will always leave for Russia, Scandinavia or NA, and quite frankly, it's what's best for the country in terms of developing talent for its national teams at this time. Latvian coaches are still teaching the old Soviet game, and that can't continue if they ever want a chance at placing higher than 7th at the Worlds or WJC. Countries like Denmark and Switzerland have quickly caught up and even surpassed them because they've adapted to a more North American style of play.

Like you said, the player exodus is not good for the level of local development, not only because it doesn't give the fans someone to cheer for, but also because it gives a lot of the better remaining kids an undeserved "star syndrome", which in many cases stagnates their development because they wrongly think that they're already world class players. Then they show up to the elite WJC and see that they're not even close, but for many of them, it's too late.

IMHO, the LHF should set up two teams of their best 15-17 year old players and hire respected Canadian junior coaches to work with them. This might keep the more talent players at home, get them ready for the higher paced, more skilled and physical NA game, and in turn give local fans something to cheer about. Although in the end, if this program does it's job, the best players will still leave, as they should. Latvia just doesn't have the population to support a competitive junior league, and having more than two teams playing in Russia is not economically viable. Even in Canada, players must move to where the action is.


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12-12-2011, 02:04 PM
  #33
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Yeah, but until Latvia has significantly more coaches capable of teaching the game at a high level, the best players will always leave for Russia, Scandinavia or NA, and quite frankly, it's what's best for the country in terms of developing talent for its national teams at this time. Latvian coaches are still teaching the old Soviet game, and that can't continue if they ever want a chance at placing higher than 7th at the Worlds or WJC. Countries like Denmark and Switzerland have quickly caught up and even surpassed them because they've adapted to a more North American style of play.

Like you said, the player exodus is not good for level the local development, not only because it doesn't give the fans someone to cheer for, but also because it gives a lot of the better remaining kids an undeserved "star syndrome", which in many cases stagnates their development because they wrongly think that they're already world class players. Then they show up to the elite WJC and see that they're not even close, but for many of them, it's too late.

IMHO, the LHF should set up two teams of their best 15-17 year old players and hire respected Canadian junior coaches to work with them. This might keep the more talent players at home, get them ready for the higher paced, more skilled and physical NA game, and in turn give local fans something to cheer about. Although in the end, if this program does it's job, the best players will still leave, as they should. Latvia just doesn't have the population to support a competitive junior league, and having more than two teams playing in Russia is not economically viable. Even in Canada, players must move to where the action is.
Get out of my head! I agree about with everything you said. I've written countless essays like this on multiple message boards, saying that getting involved in MHL at age of 17-20 is already way too late.

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12-12-2011, 02:23 PM
  #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by v-man View Post
Yeah, but until Latvia has significantly more coaches capable of teaching the game at a high level, the best players will always leave for Russia, Scandinavia or NA, and quite frankly, it's what's best for the country in terms of developing talent for its national teams at this time. Latvian coaches are still teaching the old Soviet game, and that can't continue if they ever want a chance at placing higher than 7th at the Worlds or WJC. Countries like Denmark and Switzerland have quickly caught up and even surpassed them because they've adapted to a more North American style of play.

Like you said, the player exodus is not good for level the local development, not only because it doesn't give the fans someone to cheer for, but also because it gives a lot of the better remaining kids an undeserved "star syndrome", which in many cases stagnates their development because they wrongly think that they're already world class players. Then they show up to the elite WJC and see that they're not even close, but for many of them, it's too late.

IMHO, the LHF should set up two teams of their best 15-17 year old players and hire respected Canadian junior coaches to work with them. This might keep the more talent players at home, get them ready for the higher paced, more skilled and physical NA game, and in turn give local fans something to cheer about. Although in the end, if this program does it's job, the best players will still leave, as they should. Latvia just doesn't have the population to support a competitive junior league, and having more than two teams playing in Russia is not economically viable. Even in Canada, players must move to where the action is.
That does sound like a good plan! I really wish you guys the best. Your fans are amazing. That really is a critical point at the end as well. Most hockey players have to move or travel quite a bit to play in Canada, even at lower levels. For example, the B.C.(province) Major Midget League has 11 teams. Which includes two teams on Vancouver Island (so it takes a 2 hour ferry plus extensive driving). The kids(aged 15 to 17, but often dominated by the younger age groups) pretty much spend every second weekend in a hotel. That doesn't include the wide range each team covers.
It would be difficult to get highly respected Canadian Junior coaches over there, but a good start would be implementing some form of coaching certification. I do not know what you already have, but Canada's is pretty well established. In some cases it can be fairly useless, but I went to what is called a Development 2 Clinic in 2010 and it was great. Development 1 is the certification required to coach competitive or rep hockey from Peewee AAA up to Major Midget. The Development 2 clinic is pretty much expected for major midget though and lower junior levels. I went and it was just 2 days spent in a classroom and a couple on ice sessions with about 30 other coaches who varied from Peewee AAA to coaching Jr. A or Canadian University hockey. It was an amazing exchange of ideas and philosophies. That was helped by the instructors who gave some structured lectures on certain aspects of the game. If Latvia could implement something along these lines it would greatly help(assuming you don't already have one). The most basic step would be to do what Hockey Canada does at the clinics for recreational coaches and even at development 1. They hand out a booklet with some basic drills and practice plans geared towards age specific development. It really helps cut out incompetent and painful to watch coaching that often still occurs competitive levels into Midget.

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12-12-2011, 05:39 PM
  #35
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Does anybody know if any Latvian born players will be included on the 'Russian Red Stars' Team that is touring North America this month? Specifically the game against UND in Grand Forks, ND on Dec 17. I wouldn't expect anybody who is on the WJC team to be playing, but maybe there are a few others.

I am hoping to see a good showing from Latvia at the WJC...always is hard to see how quickly Latvia as a country has fallen in the hockey world. Ive lived in Riga and it is always disappointing to watch our juniors get blown out of the water by the powerhouses.

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12-12-2011, 05:45 PM
  #36
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Originally Posted by nabbyfan View Post
Does anybody know if any Latvian born players will be included on the 'Russian Red Stars' Team that is touring North America this month? Specifically the game against UND in Grand Forks, ND on Dec 17. I wouldn't expect anybody who is on the WJC team to be playing, but maybe there are a few others.
yes, D Perejs (russian Порейс) will be at Red Stars MHL
roster

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Old
12-12-2011, 06:05 PM
  #37
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always is hard to see how quickly Latvia as a country has fallen in the hockey world. Ive lived in Riga and it is always disappointing to watch our juniors get blown out of the water by the powerhouses.
Fallen? Have we ever really been something more than also-ran at junior level? I don't think so.

Our hockey system is as poor as ever since the dissolution of SU. Though, we still somehow are in front of Belarus and Kazakhstan despite the huge money these two countries are devoting to hockey. Sometimes I do think that if weren't for the huge armadas of fans travelling to annual WC's at the spring in late 90's, our hockey would be in poorer state than Ukrainian. Our unexplained passion for hockey allowed hockey to survive despite the complete lack of any hockey foundations in the country.

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12-12-2011, 06:25 PM
  #38
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That does sound like a good plan! I really wish you guys the best. Your fans are amazing. That really is a critical point at the end as well. Most hockey players have to move or travel quite a bit to play in Canada, even at lower levels. For example, the B.C.(province) Major Midget League has 11 teams. Which includes two teams on Vancouver Island (so it takes a 2 hour ferry plus extensive driving). The kids(aged 15 to 17, but often dominated by the younger age groups) pretty much spend every second weekend in a hotel. That doesn't include the wide range each team covers.
It would be difficult to get highly respected Canadian Junior coaches over there, but a good start would be implementing some form of coaching certification. I do not know what you already have, but Canada's is pretty well established. In some cases it can be fairly useless, but I went to what is called a Development 2 Clinic in 2010 and it was great. Development 1 is the certification required to coach competitive or rep hockey from Peewee AAA up to Major Midget. The Development 2 clinic is pretty much expected for major midget though and lower junior levels. I went and it was just 2 days spent in a classroom and a couple on ice sessions with about 30 other coaches who varied from Peewee AAA to coaching Jr. A or Canadian University hockey. It was an amazing exchange of ideas and philosophies. That was helped by the instructors who gave some structured lectures on certain aspects of the game. If Latvia could implement something along these lines it would greatly help(assuming you don't already have one). The most basic step would be to do what Hockey Canada does at the clinics for recreational coaches and even at development 1. They hand out a booklet with some basic drills and practice plans geared towards age specific development. It really helps cut out incompetent and painful to watch coaching that often still occurs competitive levels into Midget.
They do officially follow an IIHF coaching certification program, and often have camps with top Canadian coaches to upgrade their skills, but there are many hockey schools and teams that hire their old buddies instead of the most qualified coaches available. If I remember correctly, one of the guys on the U20 team's coaching staff in one of the past few years wasn't even an accredited coach, which only came to light after the tournament. And it's not that these guys don't know the game at all, it's just that they haven't adapted or upgraded their skills and knowledge to include an understanding of way hockey is played by the majority of the world today. They still think that waiting for the perfect pass is the best and only way to score a goal, which is why Latvia always gets outshot by a two or three to one margin, even if actual scoring chances might be pretty even.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nabbyfan View Post
I am hoping to see a good showing from Latvia at the WJC...always is hard to see how quickly Latvia as a country has fallen in the hockey world. Ive lived in Riga and it is always disappointing to watch our juniors get blown out of the water by the powerhouses.
Really? Where have they fallen from? They're right where they've been for the last decade or so, if not slightly ahead. Sure they get blown out every once in a while, but they're never as bad as those games make them seem. Even the team that lost to Canada 16-0 the other year had defeated the Russians a few days earlier. It's just kids and their nerves, not being used to the pressure. They've also blown other teams out as well, including two consecutive 7-1 wins in '09.


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12-12-2011, 06:45 PM
  #39
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Originally Posted by nabbyfan View Post
I am hoping to see a good showing from Latvia at the WJC...always is hard to see how quickly Latvia as a country has fallen in the hockey world. Ive lived in Riga and it is always disappointing to watch our juniors get blown out of the water by the powerhouses.
10 years ago we were so far behind in juniors, that teams like Poland and France were beating us with ease. For the record, U20 results:
2000 - 17th place
2001 - 18th place
2002 - 21st place (Below Japan and just ahead of Croatia)
2003 - 17/18th place
2004 - 15/16th
2005 - 11/12th (Got the promotion to elite for the first time)

After that Latvia has been mostly bouncing from elite to Div.1 and back.

Untill 2006 results for our U18 team were even worse, but they are also now traveling to elite once in two years.

So i would say that our junior results are much better than they were a decade ago. Though i agree that our youth system is still a mess and main reason we are producing talents are because of our passion for the sport.

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12-12-2011, 07:50 PM
  #40
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Perhaps Fallen is the wrong word, but what I mean to get across is that for a country and people with such a passion for hockey, they can hopefully grow some more raw talent. But hey, just getting to see Latvia compete as its own team is good enough for me to be proud.

Heres for a good effort in Calgary.

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12-12-2011, 10:09 PM
  #41
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Any player to keep an extra eye on, except Girgensons, and why?

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12-12-2011, 10:52 PM
  #42
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Any player to keep an extra eye on, except Girgensons, and why?
Teodors Bļugers 1994 (Shattuck USHS, commited for MNS University). Offensively skilled C. I would keep an eye on him. Draft eligible. If he want to be noticed, he will need to produce from 2nd line, behind Zemgus.

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12-12-2011, 11:01 PM
  #43
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Teodors Bļugers 1994 (Shattuck USHS, commited for MNS University). Offensively skilled C. I would keep an eye on him. Draft eligible. If he want to be noticed, he will need to produce from 2nd line, behind Zemgus.
OK, thanks! I'm very excited to see Girgensons. Should be interesting to see this guy Blugers as well!

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12-13-2011, 04:28 AM
  #44
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Yeah, but until Latvia has significantly more coaches capable of teaching the game at a high level, the best players will always leave for Russia, Scandinavia or NA, and quite frankly, it's what's best for the country in terms of developing talent for its national teams at this time. Latvian coaches are still teaching the old Soviet game, and that can't continue if they ever want a chance at placing higher than 7th at the Worlds or WJC. Countries like Denmark and Switzerland have quickly caught up and even surpassed them because they've adapted to a more North American style of play.

Like you said, the player exodus is not good for the level of local development, not only because it doesn't give the fans someone to cheer for, but also because it gives a lot of the better remaining kids an undeserved "star syndrome", which in many cases stagnates their development because they wrongly think that they're already world class players. Then they show up to the elite WJC and see that they're not even close, but for many of them, it's too late.

IMHO, the LHF should set up two teams of their best 15-17 year old players and hire respected Canadian junior coaches to work with them. This might keep the more talent players at home, get them ready for the higher paced, more skilled and physical NA game, and in turn give local fans something to cheer about. Although in the end, if this program does it's job, the best players will still leave, as they should. Latvia just doesn't have the population to support a competitive junior league, and having more than two teams playing in Russia is not economically viable. Even in Canada, players must move to where the action is.
Coaches are a big problem, I absolutely agree (the problem is even bigger in kids hockey). I don't see why we can't invite NA head coaches and form a team staff around them (something that we recently did with Nolan). Well, I actually do see a reason: high salaries of NA coaches.

I don't say that we need a strong local junior league, that's utopia, but we should try to keep our main adult championship active and improve it. Solid junior prospects can play in Russian leagues (like they do right now: 3 MHL teams, then SK Riga '95, '96 & '97 in St. Petersburg championship tourneys). Though coaches remain a big question, but in time they will learn.

In the 90s or early 00s there was no real option for our juniors but to leave for other countries. Now there are alternatives, a lot of steps are being made in the right direction, and I hope teens seriously consider playing here before leaving.

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12-13-2011, 09:03 AM
  #45
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Coaches are a big problem, I absolutely agree (the problem is even bigger in kids hockey). I don't see why we can't invite NA head coaches and form a team staff around them (something that we recently did with Nolan). Well, I actually do see a reason: high salaries of NA coaches.
Canadian coach would probably quit his job in Latvia after two days, when he would realize that under our job description coaching means a whole lot more than just coaching kids. He would need to become a coach, GM, equipment manager, bus driver, etc. at the same time. Can't imagine foreigner being able to do his job here without knowing our language.

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12-15-2011, 03:51 AM
  #46
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Haha, so true. Though as I mentioned, I don't think our schools would get the money needed to even invite a Canadian coach.

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12-16-2011, 06:47 PM
  #47
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Yeah, but until Latvia has significantly more coaches capable of teaching the game at a high level, the best players will always leave for Russia, Scandinavia or NA, and quite frankly, it's what's best for the country in terms of developing talent for its national teams at this time. Latvian coaches are still teaching the old Soviet game, and that can't continue if they ever want a chance at placing higher than 7th at the Worlds or WJC. Countries like Denmark and Switzerland have quickly caught up and even surpassed them because they've adapted to a more North American style of play.
I tend to disagree... Ozolins, Skrastins, Irbe, Balderis, Zholtock... they all grew up and developed as players under Latvian coaching and left Latvia already at 19 or later. It wasn't anything different than Granlund developing in Finland or Kuznetsov in Russia until the age of 20.

The players are leaving, imho, not because of the quality of coaches but because they KNOW that there's no scouting here, no perspective, no anything (well, it was so at least until Dinamo Riga and MHL team appeared). They could play in Latvian league and that was all they could achieve- the same goes for Danish players who leave to Sweden or CHL for the same reason- if you're already a minor star at local level at the age of 18, what else can you do?

Denmark and Switzerland didn't catch up with us. We had to catch up with Denmark, Norway etc. in U20 U18 player developement as the collapse of the Soviet Union left a huge hole in everything- coaching, finance, equipment... Yes, we developed Irbe, Ozolinsh, Zholtock before, when the system was still in place (junior club- farm club- Soviet league club) and they all went through that system to NHL but later on it all collapsed. Many people think that these countries caught up with us because of our success in WC at the end of 90s but team Latvia then was still relying on many players not born and coached in Latvia, Soviet "imports'' who happened to play for Dinamo Riga and stayed here after independence. Junior hockey wise we were about at the current day level at the beginning of 90s and then, due to the hole torn out by the collapse of the system, we slided a bit down and had to catch up.....

I think this ''Soviet style" thing is a myth. There are good coaches, Miļūns, the head coach of U20 IS A GOOD COACH and he knows more than only Soviet style. What tangible good has North American influence given to Belarus hockey last few years? But before they developed Kostitsyns and Grabowski... coaching the good old Soviet game.

Soviet style is what we are. I don't think we should lose it, it can always be improved by other coaching methods from abroad but we're not a 3rd world hockey country that needs someone to teach us the basics of hockey.... We have 1500 junior hockey players against Swiss 13 000 (or Canada's 500 000), even Denmark has a bigger pool to choose from..... So that's another reason why we don't have these stars.

We don't know how a player of the age of 20, developed in Latvia, would look like because we haven't seen a talent actually staying in Latvia until that time. Maybe with Dinamo Riga... However, as I said... with 1500 junior players and 17 rinks in a country you can't really hope to produce Gretzky and Lemiuex every year....


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12-16-2011, 06:57 PM
  #48
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Any player to keep an extra eye on, except Girgensons, and why?
Pelšs from WHL, started season slow but in the last few games (10 or so) has showed that maybe still has a chance at NHL some day. He's drafted so everything is in his hands.

Big D-man Koļesņikovs from QMJHL was already mentioned, overager who maybe could hope for a draft in the 7th round 28 games 21 pts

Bļugers, already mentioned, scoring leader of Shattuck St. Mary's... should be drafted this year anywhere from 3rd to 7th rounds

Two NHL draft elligible 1994-borns Jevpalovs and Lipsbergs from MHL's HK Riga, in last 10 or so games in MHL the 94 borns have been among leaders, getting a goal for their line in almost every game... If not the bad start of season when they had to play in the 4th line for some time with limited TOI, I think their numbers in MHL would look much better... IMHO, they are better than, say Lipsbergs 37 games 15 points say. But still, they are playing with guys born in 91, even 90

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12-16-2011, 07:24 PM
  #49
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Originally Posted by Latgale_fan View Post
I tend to disagree... Ozolins, Skrastins, Irbe, Balderis, Zholtock... they all grew up and developed as players under Latvian coaching and left Latvia already at 19 or later.
You make your points well, but tell me, what has changed in these last 20 years, because we have not produced anything of such calibre since late 80's? The coaches are still here, we got more arenas than ever before and more kids playing hockey as well. What's the missing ingredient?

There were players that got drafted out of BOL, so it's not like anyone simply failed to attract the interest of scouts. Was there really a much talked 14/15/16 year old that lost his way because of the lack of options?

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12-16-2011, 07:28 PM
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Latgale_fan
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Originally Posted by v-man View Post
IMHO, the LHF should set up two teams of their best 15-17 year old players and hire respected Canadian junior coaches to work with them. This might keep the more talent players at home, get them ready for the higher paced, more skilled and physical NA game, and in turn give local fans something to cheer about. Although in the end, if this program does it's job, the best players will still leave, as they should. Latvia just doesn't have the population to support a competitive junior league, and having more than two teams playing in Russia is not economically viable. Even in Canada, players must move to where the action is.
You said that every Latvian that has played in the NHL in last 20 years has gone NA route. I disagree, certainly not Zholtock, Skrastins, the same can be said about Ozolins. They didn't play junior hockey in Canada or USA, maybe spent some time before in lower leagues but they came to NA already at 19-20 from Pārdaugava or Riga Stars (short lived successors of Dinamo Riga, playing in the Russian league at the beginning of the 90s).

Also- about teams 15-17 that should be set up. IT'S ALL HAPPENING! In Latvian league there is a team of players born in 1995 and it's doing rather good for their age, there are 17 year olds in MHL (Jeļisējevs, Jevpalovs, Lipsbergs), they are in MHL B (Riekstiņš, Kulda, Kondrāts, Sarkanis), in LM 2 (Freijs, Ozoliņš) Latvian league... not to mention that there are teams playing in St. Petersburg championship etc. Yes, there are no Canadian coaches but I presume REALLY GOOD Canadian coaches cost money and probably would love to stay and coach in Canada than to move to Latvia...

Some people in Latvia really have these strange ideas about local junior hockey (the myths)

1) Young players in Latvia (say 16-22) have no place to play hockey, good level hockey = there are an MHL team, two MHL B teams and basically all the Latvian league is a junior league or such a league where a junior can easily find a place on roster of every team. And I haven't seen a single junior in MHL B, Latvian league etc. who has overgrown that level and has no possibility to develop further. Even if we had Girgensons or Pelšs in Latvia, they could play for our MHL team and maybe also have some ice time with Dinamo Riga. Another thing is... what to do when you're already grown out of the junior age?

2) All based on parents' enthusiasm- actually in Ventspils, Jelgava, Daugavpils, probably also Liepāja hockey schools help parents and players with equipment etc. I dunno much more about Riga but it's not as tragic as some people might want to say that oh hockey is not accessible. It's an expensive sport, let's be real, in any country but there are clubs that are making it more accessible.

3) Latvia hasn't got good coaches. We need to import (and usually from everywhere, some even want to get German tragedy of a hockey coach here???). Let's be honest... now. 90% of Canada's coches are probably sh**, like in any other country. If all Canadian coaches were brilliant, they'd win everybody with 15-0 at every Olympics (Russia has 8X smaller junior hockey player pool to get talents from, despite the fact it's population is good 5-6 times bigger). If you have 500 000 junior hockey players to choose from, you are sure to find Nugent Hopkins or Skinner every year and a Lemieux or Crosby along the way. I'm not saying we should be ignorant to anyting that happens outside Latvia but we need to take everything with a grain of salt, not rush towards introducing every new thing, destroying what we've built and accumulated for 80 years of our hockey history.....


Last edited by Latgale_fan: 12-16-2011 at 07:38 PM.
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