Greg Wyshynski

  • Wit and wisdom of Mike Babcock, World Cup edition

    Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 4 hrs ago

    TORONTO – Mike Babcock, head coach of Team Canada and the Toronto Maple Leafs, is a delight in a press conference, managing to be insightful one moment and then cantankerous the next and then insightfully cantankerous after that.

    Like, for example, these three answers during his media availability on the eve of Game 2 of the World Cup of Hockey final, with Canada leading Team Europe 1-0 in their best-of-three. Babcock talked about his success as a coach in the NHL and internationally, and how he approaches Thursday night’s game.

    Enjoy!

    Q. What defines you as a coach? What’s your secret?

    BABCOCK: “It’s called ‘good players.’ I finished dead last in the National Hockey League last year, over an 82-game period. Worst coach in hockey. So let’s not get carried away here. It’s been a good month.”

    Q. How has your work as a professional coach prepared you for this?

    “ I want to make this clear: We’ve talked way too much about me today. You need players.”

    Q. What’s the preparation like for a coach before a game like this?

    “Like, I’m going to do what I do. That’s what you do. You do what you do. So I’m going to do the same thing.

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  • Team Europe finds Canada’s flaws, its own confidence in loss

    Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 5 hrs ago

    TORONTO – Frans Nielsen of Team Europe said playing Canada is an exercise in dashed expectations and sudden frustration.

    “You feel like you’re doing good, you’re creating chances and then just a small mistake and they score. So it’s so tough,” he said.

    Of course, this is also how every team that’s faced Team Europe described that experience, to the point where hockey power like Sweden has offensive paralysis set in while worrying about a gaffe.

    “You’re right,” said Nielsen, with a laugh, “but Canada is just so good.”

    That they are. Canada moved to within one win of hoisting – or clenching or snuggling orwhatever the hell you do with this thing – the World Cup of Hockey after their 3-1 win over Europe on Tuesday night in their best-of-three final. It was the closest game Canada had played in the tournament, and a remarkable turnaround for a Europe team that gave up 83 shot attempts in their preliminary loss to the host nation.

    But if you ask Canada, the game was close because they laid an egg.

    So what can they improve on?

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  • Empty seats, subdued crowd in Canada World Cup win

    Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 18 hrs ago

    TORONTO – The house was rocking, as fans filled nearly every seat, raising their voices throughout the game with the knowledge that their team was playing with championship glory on the line.

    That was the scene as the Toronto Blue Jays took on the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre in front of over 44,000 fans on Tuesday night.

    Down the street at Air Canada Centre, where Team Canada was playing Team Europe in Game 1 of their best-of-three series in the World Cup of Hockey final, the atmosphere was different. The crowd was subdued, and quiet for stretches, despite having the dominant home team two wins away from an international hockey championship. The fans finally came alive in the third period when Canada did, as they defeated Europe 3-1.

    “It’s different,” said defenseman Alex Pietrangelo of Canada. “Once the game got going, the excitement was there. But you play against the Americans, you play against the Russians, and it’s obviously different.”

    Most of the credit goes to Team Europe, whose puck-control game has syphoned the energy out of the Air Canada Centre more than once in the World Cup tournament – by design.

    Then there were the empty seats:

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  • Andrew Shaw already clowning in Montreal, could face suspension (Video)

    Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 19 hrs ago

    When the Montreal Canadiens acquired Andrew Shaw from the Chicago Blackhawks and handed him a six-year contract, GM Marc Bergevin praised him as a “character guy.”

    While some might dispute that label, this is actually fairly accurate. Shaw is a guy. And he is a character. Which is why he’s already clowning as a Canadiens player, and could be suspended for it.

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    Shaw’s team was playing the Washington Capitals in an exhibition game on Tuesday night when he may have been slew-footed by Jay Beagle of the Capitals.

    Shaw was upset at the trip (slewfoot?) and the result was…this: pic.twitter.com/F3rw2zO7ke

    — Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) September 28, 2016

    UPDATE: 

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  • Canada gets scare, outlasts Europe in World Cup Game 1

    Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 20 hrs ago

    TORONTO – Before Game 1 of their best-of-three World Cup of Hockey final, Team Europe coach Ralph Krueger offered a mission statement for his players.

    “We want to make it difficult for Canada to win the World Cup. We’d like to get in the way of that,” he said.

    Mission almost accomplished. Team Europe, made up of non-North American players who didn’t have national teams in the World Cup, gave the Canadians their most difficult game of the tournament and biggest scare, before the host nation settled down for a 3-1 win on Tuesday night in Toronto.

    Canada takes a 1-0 series lead. Game 2 of the series is on Thursday night at Air Canada Centre.

    Once again, it was Canada’s dominant top line of Brad Marchand (1 goal, 1 assist), Patrice Bergeron (1 goal, 1 assist), and Sidney Crosby (2 assists) that led the way.

    Marchand continued to make the World Cup his bar mitzvah as an offensive star, notching his fourth goal of the tournament just 12 seconds after his minor penalty for cross-checking expired. Smartly trailing the play as Boston Bruins teammate Patrice Bergeron skated, Marchand lifted the puck over goalie Jaroslav Halak (35 saves) for the 1-0 lead at 2:33 of the first.

  • NHL ‘negative’ on 2018 Winter Olympics, addresses Ovechkin threat

    Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 1 day ago

    TORONTO – As the 2016 World Cup of Hockey enters its final games, attention turns to that other big hockey tournament coming up in PyeongChang, South Korea.

    But the chances that the NHL is going to bring its players to the 2018 Winter Olympics are dwindling by the day, according to the League.

    “I think time is very short to make a decision, and I’m not sure there’s been a lot of progress made in the past six months, and I’m not sure there’s any prospect for progress to be made,” said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly. “So on the basis of that, I’d say that I’m more negative today than I was two weeks ago.”

    The NHL received an update from the International Ice Hockey Federation during the World Cup, and the IIHF said there’s still much work to be done in securing the financial backing the NHL is seeking from the International Olympic Committee.

    Among the issues: Travel costs, player insurance costs, better accommodations for the athletes and their guests, as well as considerations about “the physical layout of the Olympic Games, and whether the location of the Olympic Games makes that run smoothly,” said Daly.

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  • Wayne Gretzky’s hilarious story about incognito Hall of Fame visit

    Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 1 day ago

    TORONTO – Wayne Gretzky has always been a special kind of sports legend. Not just that he’s considered the greatest hockey player of all-time, but because he’s also an unabashed hockey fanboy. His passions for the game’s history are as considerable as his talent playing it.

    But when you’re Wayne Gretzky, getting a chance to indulge in that history at a place like the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto can be difficult because, well, you’re WAYNE GRETZKY. Everyone there knows you and, if they don’t, will know you when they see you standing next to a photo of Wayne Gretzky breaking Gordie Howe’s scoring records, and being like, “Hey, that’s Wayne Gretzky!”

    So one day, Wayne Gretzky decided to go to the Hall of Fame as a regular guest, and somewhat incognito.

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    Hilarity ensued.

  • Artemi Panarin wants $6M per season on new deal: Report

    Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 1 day ago

     

    Chicago Blackhawks winger Artemi Panarin won the Calder Trophy last season and helped Patrick Kane to his Hart Trophy with outstanding play on their top line. He’s entering the last year of his entry-level contract, and he’s looking to get paid.

    Which, if you know your recent Blackhawks history, is sort of a problem.

    According to the Chicago Tribune, Panarin is seeking a six-year deal with in excess of $6 million per season. From the Tribune:

    Panarin’s agent, Tom Lynn, said last week that the sides were in discussions on a new deal for the winger, who will be a restricted free agent following the 2016-17 season.

    Obviously, when it comes to the Blackhawks and new contracts, your thoughts go to all the players that have had to leave Chicago due to their deals or demands for new ones. Brandon Saad, a pretty damn talented young forward, is a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets for that very reason.

    You’d expect he gets the money. And then, after that, we’ll see what other dominoes have to fall. Because they always do when Stan Bowman signs one of his key players.

  • Canada’s NHL superstars swallow pride, ice time for wins

    Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 1 day ago

    TORONTO – Usually, it’s a welcome sight when a team’s fourth line hits the ice against yours. It might be a high-energy, low-talent group that’ll make you hustle, or maybe an ill-fitting group of spare parts that exists to give the other nine players a breather once every few shifts.

    But when Canada’s fourth line hits the ice at the World Cup of Hockey? You’re staring at Joe Thornton, a point-per-game player for the San Jose Sharks last season who has 1,341 points in his career. You’re starting at Matt Duchene, who scored 30 goals for the Colorado Avalanche last season. You’re staring at Ryan O’Reilly, considered one of the finest two-way forwards in the NHL who had 60 points for the Buffalo Sabres last season.

    Oh, and if you happen to draw Canada’s third defensive pairing? Then you’re facing Alex Pietrangelo, the St. Louis Blues’ top defenseman, and Brent Burns, who had 75 points last season and was a Norris Trophy finalist.

    So … good luck.

    What makes it even more special is that fact that this collection of NHL all-stars check their egos, forget about their ice time and buy into the national team concept without a second thought.

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  • Is Ralph Krueger the man to defeat Canada juggernaut?

    Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 1 day ago

    TORONTO – There are similarities between Ralph Krueger and Mike Babcock. Their international success as hockey coaches. Their cerebral, psychological approach to the game. Their wry humor in postgame press conferences.

    And also water skiing.

    Water skiing?

    “We’re both fanatic water skiers, so we compare our best water ski results on a regular basis, and that’s all we’ve talked about when we run into each other here,” said Krueger, head coach of Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey.

    “He loves water skiing. I love water skiing. His daughter’s one of the best in the world, so I follow her,” said Babcock, head coach of Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey.

    Babcock and Krueger are meeting in the World Cup of Hockey final, a best of three series beginning on Tuesday night between the tournament host – a juggernaut that’s trailed 89 seconds in its four wins – and an underdog European team that was created for wayward players that didn’t have their nations represented in the tournament.

    And now, for his last trick, Krueger has a chance to score what would be one of the biggest upsets in sports history: Taking out Canada, which might not be completely implausible for Krueger.

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