A slovak website osporte.sk has started to publish blogs from Slovakia´s coach Glen Hanlon about the World Championship. I thought the blog was very interesting read and might be also interesting to read for international fans, so i decided to translate it and post it here:
The players are my family now
"Since this is my first blog about my time spent in Slovakia, I think it is important to share my thoughts and feelings from these last three weeks. We close the string of preparation games with 3W-3L. First two games against the Czech republic weren´t a real indicator of the play of our team. We played a lot of young players, who will be with us in the future, but right now they definitely aren´t ready to play at the world level.
The next stage of our camp was succesful. Too bad that we couldn´t travel to Belarus, because of the Islandic volcano. I was a part of the organization comittee in Belarus and I looked forward to Slovakia´s apearance in Minsk. In the last moments it got cancelled and we had to go an alternative way. Noone has an idea, how much oranization such hockey games need. Hotels, traffic, food and with this connected trouble- and of ourse the hramonogramme of games, were done during one day. The cooperation of all countries was needed, but in the end Ján Taraba with the help of Ján Filc did it. And in the end it was a great experience.
One of the reasons why I wanted to coach a national team was travelling. And this trip has to be one of the best I ever had. I´m still amazed by how central Slovakia is situated and how easy I can get to other beautiful countries. Except from great travelling, we also won two games... One in OT and that´s were the team began really to behave like a team. We went through teambuliding off the ice and the stay in the South Bavaria town Fussen also put the team more together. I believe that the team´s unity is one of the most important parts that a team, which wants to win needs to have. All in all we have 5 basic team points and this is one of them. These points together with the motto for this year´s team "One team, one country, one goal- TO WIN", are what the players need to have in their eyes and ears every day. Maybe the biggest plus was the arrival of two future stars. Tomá Tatar and Richard Pánik have adapted with the team with their elated game. Now it´s up to them to cope with succes, to stay focused on on practising and be highly motivated for the next few years. If they make it they will definitely become fan favourites in the future.
Negatives were our PP and a lot of penalties. Discipline,good special units and good deffense lead to wins at the WHC. So in the next stage of training we had to work on them a lot.
Then our camp moved to Skalica. I love the town and it´s surroundings. The personal of the hockey arena did everything, so we´d have the best possible conditions. I also met good people in our hotel, which I liked. The food was great and the rooms were beautiful. A hotel like this would cost 300 dollars in a North American town. It´s great, especially, since it´s much cheaper here.
Our captain Richard Lintner is a golf fanatic and he managed to play some. It definitely did him good, because he played great on the ice and he added a goal on the PP. I really value his work and leadership, that he brings to the team. He sacrificed a lot of time that he could have spent with his family and he won´t earn a single Euro. Players like this really love hockey. All in all from a coaching point of view this year´s team is very interesting. We have a lot of young players and also a lot of those, that will play their first WHC ever. They are cheerful all the time and give everything on the ice. You can´t expect anything more from a player.
First win against Latvia was exciting. Our fans saw a young offensive team, that will make youthful mistakes, but also work hard on reparing them. In the 2nd game we had a lot of opprtunities, but we didn´t manage to score. Our PP formation worked hard again, but didn´t score any goals. We´ll have to work on it in Germany. But we can skate well and we outshot the Latvians 31-17. After the game we had pizza in the locker room and the players went home before the flight to Koln, where the play will already be serious ,during the short time they got off. Already then I knew I was gonna miss them. My wife and son are in Vancouver, because my son can´t miss school. My wife is a teacher, so missing school is not a possibility for junior....Poor kid...Since he is 8 years old he is in a beautiful stage of life, in which it is beautiful to spent time with him. I miss them and the players will have to become my family. Until the meeting in Bratislava it was suddenly so quite...
We wanted to give just one day off to the players. After the game Richard Lintner came and said it would be good not to skate anymore and to start with three practices in Germany. It was a good idea. In times like that time-off is as important as practice. The tactical side of our game also worked. I´m sure that the excitment of Koln and the tourney will help to bring the level of our game even higher.
At the end of training camp I had to do the hardest thing in a coach´s life. We had to release five players. I always get a bad feeling in my stomach and the memory of telling the sad news to the players stays with me for a long time. A day before releasing the final nomination I didn´t want to talk to the media about it much, because they would focus on the negatives around the released players and not the positives around the players that made the final nomination.
That´s all for now. The next blog will come from Germany. I´m excited also for our players and in I await our first game against Russia in suspense."
"I´m currently in the locker room of the Cologne Lanxess Arena writing these lines. Recent night was very good for us. A win at the WHC is always a fantastic experience. The emotions are literally glowing from us. I would really want every hockey fan to be with us in a locker room after a game like this. On the other hand after a lost game I wouldn´t want that for anyone. Last night was even more intriguing because we managed to get back from an 0-2 deficit.
People around made big uproar about our win, because I coached Belarus before. I´m trying to explain to everyone that a win at the WHC isn´t about a personal victory. I spent 5 beautiful years in Belarus and I have lifelong friendships there. But now Slovakia is my team and my friend. This is the hard part about coaching, but life goes on. I hope that with yesterday´s game this chapter is closed. We will have nice memories left, but our passion and will are beating for Slovakia now and we´re grateful it´s that way.
This WHC is very well organized and the atmosphere against the game in Russia was the most boisterous I´ve ever seen. Our fans were deleading a Russian dominance, however we have great videos from the crowd, where the Slovak fans are on. We will use it as a motivation for players. I would like to assure everyone that we feel their support everywhere- here and at home. After last game three Slovak fans in jerseys and with flags came to us. It was already an hour and half after the game, however they were waiting, so they could beckon our bus. I thought that I´d stop the bus and take them into the hotel with us. Until I came to realization, we were already away. This is he difference between NHL and hockey on international level. There is no bigger honour than playing for your country.
We built a lot in this team on players that weren´t supposed to be here orginally. I think it is time for a muse and a debate about the players that are representing us here. In yesterday´s game Vladimír Draveckŭ, Tomá Bulík and Tomá Tatar were our checking line against a center from the NHL and two KHLers. Vlad and Buli played in the Slovak Extraliga and Tomá is still a junior. For me this is something like a tale. Also the effort of Peter Budaj was awesome. That is kind of a tale for me as well. Also the leadership of Richard Lintner is the best I´ve ever seen. And that is an another tale. I don´t know what he´s saying, but he colors smiles on the faces of the players. A locker room, where everyone is laughing is a really great place.
We definitely have to start thinking about Kazakhstan. A day before the game we will have a meeting where we will talk about penalties and we will aslo make a video analysis. Then time for good sleep will come an another exciting game day will come. We need to find out why we start the games so slowly. An another negative is that Roman Kukumberg might not play tomorrow. However belief into the system and solid team play can outmatch all injuries."