As most of you are aware of, I'm not a particularly huge fan of the 5'9" center straight out of Ottawa, Ontario. I nitpick everything he does on the ice and don't give him enough credit, which most people don't seem to be doing anymore. Roy was on a career pace last season in every category across the board before he went down with his injury. It was also Roy who came back for Game 7 of the Flyers/Sabres series last year - not at 100% - because he wanted to try and help his teammates. I was actually extremely excited when he came back and was hoping maybe he could get a point or anything to help the team but to no avail. This year, he is the center of discussion when trade is brought up and hasn't played up to par this year.
Why am I thinking about this so much?
My brother Corey and I had a discussion with Nick Mendola on Saturday evening about the Sabres (mainly general thoughts) and Roy came up. Nick mentioned several of the points I made note of above, and that's when my brain really began churning. Perhaps I tried too hard to look for flaws in his gameplay because I don't respect the type of person he is. My big issue with athletes is that I judge them first on personality, and secondly on hockey skills. I got lucky with my favorite player being kind of good at hockey and from multiple things I've read, he has a good heart too. If you peruse through Roy's Twitter, he kind of comes off as a douchebag for the lack of a better term. I've heard several stories from female friends about how he acts towards women in public. He is clearly a womanizer. We've all seen the drunk photos that are plastered all over Google. I just have no respect for the type of person he comes off as and that's probably why I've disregarded how well he can play for so long.
This season isn't going well for a lot of guys who aren't named Thomas Vanek or Jason Pominville. Roy is third on the team in points with 25 in 49 games. 9 of those points are goals. Last year, he had 10 in 35 games before his season ended shortly. Actually, he was on a point-per-game pace last season. How much of the Sabres disastrous season's blame can you place on him? Not all of it - or at least, he doesn't deserve all of it. As a whole, the team really fell apart after the Lucic hit on Miller which has been discussed a million times by vast amounts of media outlets and even just blogs. Roy is one of the top guns who we should be looking at to score the big goals but he hasn't been doing it. Drew Stafford hasn't been doing much of it either. Before Vanek's injury, he had one goal in ten games. Pominville has been particularly the steadiest out of every player on the team but he's also played every game. We shouldn't be going around pointing fingers because I think everyone on the team has a part to play in this season going down the drain. It's not over yet, though. I have a good feeling that the core players are really going to step into their roles in this post-All Star break if their recent play has anything to show for it. Last night's game, while they lost, was a sign of hope that maybe they believe this season isn't over yet. We have to believe that, too.
So Derek, I'm sorry about being so hard on you these past few years. Go out there and help give this team something to believe in again.
It's amazing how these events unfolded so quickly. Only about two weeks ago was it mentioned that Atlanta could possibly move up to Winnipeg. Phoenix had been in a ton of danger for maybe three years prior to that and when they were told they would stay in Phoenix for another year, the NHL looked elsewhere. I had a feeling in my gut that the Thrashers or Panthers should be moved over the Coyotes to Winnipeg, mainly because I thought moving them back to where they have previously been was just stupid. I'm sure it would have been an entirely awesome experience for Shane Doan though. Regardless, this deal going down in only about two weeks was really crazy and you have to wonder how Gary Bettman feels about all of this. I'm sure Winnipeggers don't care in the slightest, they're just glad that they have a team back.
The thing that confuses me the most is this unnamed Winnipeg team playing in the Southeast division for next season only so that they can get used to the change. Considering that they are more North than the Wild and they're playing for the East is strange to me. I'm sort of looking forward to seeing them twice next year but I just wonder how much those ticket prices are going to be. Also, which team from the West will make a move to the East? Columbus, Nashville, and Detroit are up for talks. I would personally love to see Nashville in the East to create a bit more competition. I don't like Detroit but Columbus' time zone is Eastern. It would be easier to add that onto the Eastern Conference. I guess that will be all decided within the next coming season.
Congratulations again on this, Winnipeg fans. Also, congratulations to Canada on their seventh team. You finally got it.
With the recent departure of Team Austria in the A-Division of the World Championships, it got me thinking about an article that I had read which was posted on the IIHF website prior to them being ousted. It was a little snippet into the life of head coach of the national team, Bill Gilligan, which had the wheels in my head going.
Within some European countries who do not develop many NHL players (like Austria and Slovenia for examples), they do not have many rinks or hockey programs because hockey is not the number one sport of even close to that. If you look at who has come out of Austria such as Vanek, Grabner, and Nodl – all three of them came over to North America at a young age to reach their dream of making the NHL. Do you think at this day and age; the young kids in Austria with a lack of guidance and proper hockey experience will get them to the NHL by staying in their country? Probably not.
Vanek came here when he was 14 to play in the ECHL and then played for the Gophers. Grabner came and played for the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL and was quite the star there. Then Nodl pretty much took the same route Vanek did and played for the same team he had in the ECHL. I did some research to see if Anze Kopitar had developed within Slovenia but then learned that at either 16 or 17, he left to play in Sweden. He had been told he would not have a chance in the NHL unless he ‘left the country’.
There’s probably major concern for this; seeing as if Austria, Slovenia, and some other countries could perhaps get more hockey schools, they would develop a lot more players within the country. The kids are becoming more interested in the sport thanks to the guys mentioned above but they’re only being motivated to leave the country when they get to be older. I would personally love to see Austria get plenty of rinks and schools to help kids there. I think they could be a hockey powerhouse if they tried.
Vanek actually made comments on the current situation with how the national team is run in Austria:
Now let’s talk about the Austrian squad. I’ve read Matthias Trattnig’s interview with Laola1 today and have to completely agree with his criticism. I am and always have been proud to play for Austria, the state of things in the national hockey federation just makes it hard to do so. You feel like at a summer hockey-camp when you join the national squad not like in a professional team. While it’s an important factor it’s not only to do with getting food and water but with other basics like wearing the same uniform already in practice. Other “small” hockey-countries like Italy and Norway warm up in the same tee-shirts. We do the warm-up completely mixed up. Matthias is wearing a Red Bull-shirt, Bernd Brückler a Russian shirt from his club and I warm up in a Buffalo-shirt.
Of course, that’s not all. What’s really bad is the fact that there’s just not enough staff. We have just on physical therapist and one equipment manager – by far not enough for a national squad, especially at times like a world championship where you play every other day. 15 or more guys would need a massage after a game, but there’s only time for like 3 or 4 to get one. The equipment manager is also overstrained with so much work in so little time.
The players are supposed to be professionals. True, but the same should be said about Hockey Austria. We want to come and play well, but, as I said above, the officials don’t always make it easy for us.
It’s hard to say for us why that is so. We as players don’t have any insight into the finances of the hockey federation. We have no idea if all the money is getting to where it should really end up. But I think it’s alarming that similar hockey nations like Italy and Norway can do so much better than we. We’ve talked to Hockey Austria manager Giuseppe Mion and president Dieter Kalt sen. last year but nothing much has changed.
It’s interesting to see his thoughts on everything and how truly upset he seems to be over how unprofessional the national team is. It makes me wonder if he’s going to try and make a difference after his career is over.
If you’d like to read the article I mentioned earlier, check it out here if you’re interested: Have Puck, Will Travel.