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Latvian hockey on the rise?

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09-09-2012, 11:40 AM
  #1
BalticWarrior
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Latvian hockey on the rise?

With Zemgus Girgensons and Thedore blueger drafted respectively #14 and #52 overall,and very talented guys comming in for 2014 draft like Rihards Bukarts,Haralds Egle,Vasiļonoks and few others,can you really say that Latvian hockey is on the rise?Will we get our Golden age again,from times where we had guys like Zholtok,Irbe,Ozolinsh on the roster?

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09-09-2012, 12:28 PM
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As an outsider looking in, what's the biggest cause of this revival? KHL team / farm system? What's the state of development & reach of the game in Latvia?

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09-09-2012, 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Sokil View Post
As an outsider looking in, what's the biggest cause of this revival? KHL team / farm system? What's the state of development & reach of the game in Latvia?
Well i think (maybe some wont agree with me) it`s combination of KHL,MHL(Rihards Bukarts whos in now playing in HK Rīga beeing only 16 years old,already is a likely candidate to be called up to Dinamo Riga) and just the fact that in the age groups of 94,95,96 theres plenty of talented players,due to hockey boom of the 90`s when Latvia had its first success in Elite hockey,thats when new rinks where built and parents sent their kids to hockey alot more.

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09-10-2012, 06:34 AM
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Indeed, I won't agree. Once again, KHL/MHL has nothing to do with the success current batch of players. For example, you simply cannot credit MHL for the development of Bukarts, because he's been lighting the league up since his first game in the MHL, just like Sidney Crosby didn't become a superstar because of Rimouski Oceanic of QMJHL.

KHL will help in long term, in a way that more parents will want to sign kids up for hockey, because of current celebrity status of every half-capable skater we have.

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09-10-2012, 07:29 AM
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It's good to see the quality of hockey and prospects coming out of Latvia improving. Always nice to see countries become more competitive in international play.

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09-10-2012, 02:30 PM
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Gotta love an underdog story

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09-12-2012, 09:07 AM
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Indeed, I won't agree. Once again, KHL/MHL has nothing to do with the success current batch of players. For example, you simply cannot credit MHL for the development of Bukarts, because he's been lighting the league up since his first game in the MHL, just like Sidney Crosby didn't become a superstar because of Rimouski Oceanic of QMJHL.

KHL will help in long term, in a way that more parents will want to sign kids up for hockey, because of current celebrity status of every half-capable skater we have.
I agree about the absolute importance of dedicated hockey parents. To be really good at a sport 99% of all people have to start very young (always the exception off course but its very rare these days -> the danish cyclist Nicky Sørensen started as 19, and have since become danish road race champion 4 times and won etapes in both Tour de France, and Vuelta Espana; but he was a runner before that). People that becomes world class players would probably have become world class in another sport had they chosen that from an early age. So all sports are in competion for the really great talents. Some people just have the talent for work ethics, technical skill, athletism or smart play. So if people choose other than hockey it's very often because of lack of TV-exposure or the cost of equipment, or hockey rinks in the area. Football and basketball etc..basically just need a pair of shoes.

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09-12-2012, 09:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justinov View Post
I agree about the absolute importance of dedicated hockey parents. T So if people choose other than hockey it's very often because of lack of TV-exposure or the cost of equipment, or hockey rinks in the area. Football and basketball etc..basically just need a pair of shoes.
Exactly. That's why, for example, Ukrainian hockey is where it currently is. Ok, situation in Donetsk is now rapidly changing, but why would your average (not hockey diehards) parents take their kids to hockey school in Kiev, I really don't know, because hockey simply isn't cool or fashionable.

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09-12-2012, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by ozo View Post
Exactly. That's why, for example, Ukrainian hockey is where it currently is. Ok, situation in Donetsk is now rapidly changing, but why would your average (not hockey diehards) parents take their kids to hockey school in Kiev, I really don't know, because hockey simply isn't cool or fashionable.
Thats unless Kiev gets an KHL franchise.

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09-12-2012, 11:03 AM
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Thats unless Kiev gets an KHL franchise.
Berkut?

From what I hear, the storied Sokil franchise is in all sorts of trouble financially.

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09-14-2012, 06:42 AM
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Exactly. That's why, for example, Ukrainian hockey is where it currently is. Ok, situation in Donetsk is now rapidly changing, but why would your average (not hockey diehards) parents take their kids to hockey school in Kiev, I really don't know, because hockey simply isn't cool or fashionable.
With hockey going forward in so many countries, why is it uncool in Ukraine? I could understand if it was the cost of equipment. Is it because it's somehow connected psychologically to the communist era - "outdated granny-game"? Or maybe because as Ukrainians hockey feel to "Russian" and they want to choose a sport that defines more a new Ukrainian nationalism?!
In Denmark we have struggled for years (actually in the press that really first changed in the late 90's where Denmark started to win matches) against the general perception that hockey was a sport for undisciplined lower class hooligans (both with fighting among players and spectators). Has hockey that kind of bad reputation in Ukraine?

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09-14-2012, 06:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Helo View Post
Thats unless Kiev gets an KHL franchise.
But if the ukrainian have a negative attitude, and the KHL team will be filled up mostly with russian players to be competitative.....will it change anything??

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09-14-2012, 07:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justinov View Post
With hockey going forward in so many countries, why is it uncool in Ukraine? I could understand if it was the cost of equipment. Is it because it's somehow connected psychologically to the communist era - "outdated granny-game"? Or maybe because as Ukrainians hockey feel to "Russian" and they want to choose a sport that defines more a new Ukrainian nationalism?!
In Denmark we have struggled for years (actually in the press that really first changed in the late 90's where Denmark started to win matches) against the general perception that hockey was a sport for undisciplined lower class hooligans (both with fighting among players and spectators). Has hockey that kind of bad reputation in Ukraine?
Not really. Yes, in the nineties and early 00's hockey got too expensive and a lot of traditional hockey hotbeds dried up, so it has led to the point that your average-to-decent Ukrainian player chose to rather play in Romania than in Ukraine. Thus the local league competition was basically amateur and it got no press attention or sponsorship money. Basically poor teams played in tired arenas with tiny crowds. Even the countries flagship team has been on the verge of bankrupcy for years.

This year Ukraine's NT managed for the first time in their history get relegated to third division and again a new low was set. U18 and U20 teams are third tier teams for a while when in the early nineties all Ukrainian teams played in Elite tiers.

All this in more detail is covered in Ukrainian hockey threads on this board so I won't repeat myself again, but the tide slowly is changing (largely thanks to Donetsk), but in reality it will take years for Ukraine to catch up with the teams they once were equal or even better - I mean teams like Latvia, Denmark or even France and Slovenia.


btw, the only place in the world hockey is viewed as commie/Russian sport is Estonia.

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09-14-2012, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by ozo View Post
Not really. Yes, in the nineties and early 00's hockey got too expensive and a lot of traditional hockey hotbeds dried up, so it has led to the point that your average-to-decent Ukrainian player chose to rather play in Romania than in Ukraine. Thus the local league competition was basically amateur and it got no press attention or sponsorship money. Basically poor teams played in tired arenas with tiny crowds. Even the countries flagship team has been on the verge of bankrupcy for years.

This year Ukraine's NT managed for the first time in their history get relegated to third division and again a new low was set. U18 and U20 teams are third tier teams for a while when in the early nineties all Ukrainian teams played in Elite tiers.

All this in more detail is covered in Ukrainian hockey threads on this board so I won't repeat myself again, but the tide slowly is changing (largely thanks to Donetsk), but in reality it will take years for Ukraine to catch up with the teams they once were equal or even better - I mean teams like Latvia, Denmark or even France and Slovenia.


btw, the only place in the world hockey is viewed as commie/Russian sport is Estonia.
In order for hockey to succeed in Ukraine I think Kiev needs a successful team with 5-7 Ukrainians who actually play and showcase younger, homegrown Ukrainian talent by developing their own prospects, etc. I've never been to Ukraine, but from what I gather Kiev is the most influencial and most populous city in Ukraine. It is very necessary that hockey succeed here if the NT ever wishes to succeed and if hockey wants to grow at a meaningful rate. It's great to see Varlamov, Kvitchenko and Kasyanchuk all (re-)enter the KHL this year, but more than 4 Ukrainians will need to play at the top level if they want to see the KHL make a difference in Ukrainian hockey.

Also, why is hockey seen as a Commie/Russian sport in Estonia?

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09-16-2012, 04:14 AM
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I think the biggest problem for Belarus and Ukraine is the (especially) youth coaches' salaries and the countries proximity to Russia...

I'm not saying that in Latvia kids and youth coaches get high salaries, definitely not, but what I've heard from our coaches is that in Belarus the coaches who work with small kids and early teens receive laughable salaries... and as their mother tongue is Russian and the mentality is about the same, they rather move to Russia, to big hockey schools to coach there and students from local universities who themselves are still learning hockey come in their place... That's why if one looks at Belarus and sees the ice arenas being built, the money invested in equipment etc. and strong national league and support from the president, he wonders why youth hockey in Latvia is still better than in Belarus, as we donn't have a league at all here... but it's all in coaching, the situation is far from ideal and not even that good in Latvia but as I've heard it's catastrophy in Belarus or Ukraine. You can have a 100 arenas in the country but if there are no good coaches, you won't achieve anything.

The current rise in number of talents in Latvian can probably be explained by the fact that the arenas built up in early 2000s are giving their first crop of players, also economic situation improved in Latvia all the time while these guys grew up 9except last few years) so coaches had better financial situation and more and better equipment was bought... Let's see how it will look with age group of youngsters born 2002, 2003, as they would take up hockey as economic crisis hit- how many of them are there (hoe many parents could afford to send their kids to hockey trainings) and how good they'll be?

But the following few years, from what I've seen and heard, age group 1994-1997 look very good.

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09-16-2012, 05:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Latgale_fan View Post
I think the biggest problem for Belarus and Ukraine is the (especially) youth coaches' salaries and the countries proximity to Russia...

I'm not saying that in Latvia kids and youth coaches get high salaries, definitely not, but what I've heard from our coaches is that in Belarus the coaches who work with small kids and early teens receive laughable salaries... and as their mother tongue is Russian and the mentality is about the same, they rather move to Russia, to big hockey schools to coach there and students from local universities who themselves are still learning hockey come in their place... That's why if one looks at Belarus and sees the ice arenas being built, the money invested in equipment etc. and strong national league and support from the president, he wonders why youth hockey in Latvia is still better than in Belarus, as we donn't have a league at all here... but it's all in coaching, the situation is far from ideal and not even that good in Latvia but as I've heard it's catastrophy in Belarus or Ukraine. You can have a 100 arenas in the country but if there are no good coaches, you won't achieve anything.

The current rise in number of talents in Latvian can probably be explained by the fact that the arenas built up in early 2000s are giving their first crop of players, also economic situation improved in Latvia all the time while these guys grew up 9except last few years) so coaches had better financial situation and more and better equipment was bought... Let's see how it will look with age group of youngsters born 2002, 2003, as they would take up hockey as economic crisis hit- how many of them are there (hoe many parents could afford to send their kids to hockey trainings) and how good they'll be?

But the following few years, from what I've seen and heard, age group 1994-1997 look very good.
Very interesting info about the coach situation and the importance of economy to get both new arenas and influx of hockey players. So it might look that Latvia will have their second golden hockey age coming up, but then it might go down again from age group 2002 and forward. So is the coach situation in Latvia weakening at the moment because of the crisis?

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09-16-2012, 05:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Justinov View Post
Very interesting info about the coach situation and the importance of economy to get both new arenas and influx of hockey players. So it might look that Latvia will have their second golden hockey age coming up, but then it might go down again from age group 2002 and forward. So is the coach situation in Latvia weakening at the moment because of the crisis?
It`s a possibility(lets hope not),but currently the coaching situation is not as bad as in 07 or 08,because Latvia is currently getting out of the crisis and it takes time.

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09-17-2012, 09:07 AM
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It`s a possibility(lets hope not),but currently the coaching situation is not as bad as in 07 or 08,because Latvia is currently getting out of the crisis and it takes time.
Yeah, Denmark had all the luck with coaches, since alot the foreign superplayers of the 80's and early 90's actually stayed in Denmark after ending their career and has been coaches for the clubs and some has continued to different U18 and U20 national teams (Todd Bjørkstrand as the real shining example). They most certainly didn't coach in Denmark for the financial reasons alone, but since they had a hockey club needing their expertize in their town.

It seems to me that some of the former Latvian NHL stars has to start up some youth building - that would also hugely increase the PR value if you as a kid could get for instance Ozolins or Irbe as coach - even if it was just part time.
Otherwise if you could get some foreign Dinamo Riga stars to marry and settle in Latvia so that they could coach after ending their career?! Only having coaches from one nation could easily bring a kind of uniformity and decrease influx of ideas.

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09-17-2012, 03:02 PM
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Yeah, Denmark had all the luck with coaches, since alot the foreign superplayers of the 80's and early 90's actually stayed in Denmark after ending their career and has been coaches for the clubs and some has continued to different U18 and U20 national teams (Todd Bjørkstrand as the real shining example). They most certainly didn't coach in Denmark for the financial reasons alone, but since they had a hockey club needing their expertize in their town.

It seems to me that some of the former Latvian NHL stars has to start up some youth building - that would also hugely increase the PR value if you as a kid could get for instance Ozolins or Irbe as coach - even if it was just part time.
Otherwise if you could get some foreign Dinamo Riga stars to marry and settle in Latvia so that they could coach after ending their career?! Only having coaches from one nation could easily bring a kind of uniformity and decrease influx of ideas.
There are all kinds of youth camp our players make for example if i remmber correctly there was bartulis and someone else cant remmber who organized this stuff,but thats only for few weeks,nothing very serious.

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09-19-2012, 05:06 AM
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There are all kinds of youth camp our players make for example if i remmber correctly there was bartulis and someone else cant remmber who organized this stuff,but thats only for few weeks,nothing very serious.
Yeah it's probably a more structured early training that could bring great results.
As an example I can show you the web site of Heikki Karvinen (the dad of Jannik and Michelle Karvinen). A finnish hockey player that went to play in Denmark...stayed and ended up as great coach. He has been coach for many youths on different danish teams (especially Rødovre) and have made DVD's with hockey coaching for different age groups on technique and scating. Danish scaters that have followed his technique training system are the following ex-Rødovre players: Mikkel Bødker (NHL), Jannik Hansen (NHL), Lars Eller (NHL), Morten Madsen (drafted, MODO), Nichlas Hardt (Jokerit).
Not bad for a small suburb. His website is in danish, but I have tried to tell the most important above.
http://www.karvinenacademy.com/heikki/heikki.html
One of my friends has a 12-13 year old son that has just had him as coach in Rødovre this last year.
Coaches like that is the reasons why Herning and Rødovre have produced hockey miracles. It can happen anywhere, also in provincial Latvia. A good coach can actually turn out several NHL players, even though they only start with like 10 U10 players each year as it can be shown from Rødovre. Talent can to a high extent be created if you start early on with structure.

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09-19-2012, 06:06 AM
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Yeah it's probably a more structured early training that could bring great results.
As an example I can show you the web site of Heikki Karvinen (the dad of Jannik and Michelle Karvinen). A finnish hockey player that went to play in Denmark...stayed and ended up as great coach. He has been coach for many youths on different danish teams (especially Rødovre) and have made DVD's with hockey coaching for different age groups on technique and scating. Danish scaters that have followed his technique training system are the following ex-Rødovre players: Mikkel Bødker (NHL), Jannik Hansen (NHL), Lars Eller (NHL), Morten Madsen (drafted, MODO), Nichlas Hardt (Jokerit).
Not bad for a small suburb. His website is in danish, but I have tried to tell the most important above.
http://www.karvinenacademy.com/heikki/heikki.html
One of my friends has a 12-13 year old son that has just had him as coach in Rødovre this last year.
Coaches like that is the reasons why Herning and Rødovre have produced hockey miracles. It can happen anywhere, also in provincial Latvia. A good coach can actually turn out several NHL players, even though they only start with like 10 U10 players each year as it can be shown from Rødovre. Talent can to a high extent be created if you start early on with structure.
Wow,thats great,sometimes value of a good coach is underestimated,but for hockey to frow you need good coaches.
For example i can give you a negative example from Latvian hockey-Tambijevs coach of HK rīga,guy gets praised here because of his earlier successes,altough he didnt do anything it just so happend he got a very talented bunch by doing nothing (Jevpalovs,Indrašis,R.Lipsbergs) NOW when most teams leaders are either in Dinamo Rīga (Indrašis,btw great start for him 5 games 2+2) or in CHL,NOW when they are gone,he cant even use our most valuable 16 year old properly Bukarts,He was 2nd in scoring in HK rīga but then great genius Tambijevs decided to put him on 4th line ofcourse now he can`t produce when he gets only few minutes on ice.

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09-19-2012, 06:37 AM
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Wow,thats great,sometimes value of a good coach is underestimated,but for hockey to frow you need good coaches.
For example i can give you a negative example from Latvian hockey-Tambijevs coach of HK rīga,guy gets praised here because of his earlier successes,altough he didnt do anything it just so happend he got a very talented bunch by doing nothing (Jevpalovs,Indrašis,R.Lipsbergs) NOW when most teams leaders are either in Dinamo Rīga (Indrašis,btw great start for him 5 games 2+2) or in CHL,NOW when they are gone,he cant even use our most valuable 16 year old properly Bukarts,He was 2nd in scoring in HK rīga but then great genius Tambijevs decided to put him on 4th line ofcourse now he can`t produce when he gets only few minutes on ice.
As much as I hate Tambijevs (only as a coach), give him a break, it's no about winning at this stage. No one at the end of current kids career will remember because they went "deep in the MHL playoffs that year", right? I'd take losses in all 50+ games if only I could ensure that one more extra kid becomes a really good player for us in the future. Just like majority of regulars on SC, I'd of course would prefer Belavskis, but when given talant (like U18 WC) Tambijevs delivers, so I'm not sure he for sure is destroying something at HK Riga currently. That said I wouldn't be said if he was given a license to walk. And the job given to someone with a little bit of experience in any coaching.

As for Justinov's idea of keeping Dinamo foreigners here and morphing them into coaches, it's basically a pipe dream. Not every great player can become a great coach. Still Latvia is no Denmark, I can't remember one foreigner in any sports who after retiring stayed here. Maybe if Hartigan was kept for some years, it could of happened, but currently? I don't think so. (DR should go after Schastlivy , him maybe we could keep here for obvious reasons)

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09-19-2012, 06:44 AM
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As much as I hate Tambijevs (only as a coach), give him a break, it's no about winning at this stage. No one at the end of current kids career will remember because they went "deep in the MHL playoffs that year", right? I'd take losses in all 50+ games if only I could ensure that one more extra kid becomes a really good player for us in the future. Just like majority of regulars on SC, I'd of course would prefer Belavskis, but when given talant (like U18 WC) Tambijevs delivers, so I'm not sure he for sure is destroying something at HK Riga currently. That said I wouldn't be said if he was given a license to walk. And the job given to someone with a little bit of experience in any coaching.

As for Justinov's idea of keeping Dinamo foreigners here and morphing them into coaches, it's basically a pipe dream. Not every great player can become a great coach. Still Latvia is no Denmark, I can't remember one foreigner in any sports who after retiring stayed here. Maybe if Hartigan was kept for some years, it could of happened, but currently? I don't think so. (DR should go after Schastlivy , him maybe we could keep here for obvious reasons)
But this is the thing Tambijevs DOES NOT provide,how can you put rihards bukarts on 4th line when was 2nd in scoring? Why? to put Ainars"Bust"Podziņš in the 1st line?

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09-20-2012, 02:20 PM
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But if talking about latvian prospects individually the one whos has been been impressing the least is Rihards Bukarts,if gets moved from 4th line to first again,maybe then things will change.

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09-20-2012, 02:23 PM
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Any chance Bukarts makes the jump to NA next year? If he's not showing anything right now he'd be best served by giving the CHL a try and getting used to the NA game, if the NHL is his ultimate goal. If not he could stagnate like his brother.

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