Hitchcock very candid following loss to Russians

Alex J. Walling
5/19/2008 11:52:11 AM
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The Russians played well, the breaks went their way and it was a great series. Those were the comments from Team Canada coach Ken Hitchcock.  At the post game coaches press conference he was very candid in his comments. Here are a few gems.
"It was a great tournament and we played well. Maybe when we win so much, people don't realize that winning is not automatic. Canada had won 17 straight before the 5-4 overtime loss.
On the final game:
"It was the tale of two games. The first half or more was ours. The last part of the second, the third and brief overtime was theirs."
On the Russian players:
"There are many good Russian players that are not in the NHL and we saw that this week."
On the Nash penalty:
"It was, according to the rules, a penalty. We may not like the rule but it was the right call."
In fact Hitchcock not only answered those questions fired to him but also intercepted one aimed at his Russian counterpart who was asked if this Russian win signaled the start of a new area of Russian dominance on ice.
"No," said Hitchcock emphatically.
"This was a very good series and a good final but that doesn't mean dominance by any means. If you are looking for a yard stick to international dominance then you start with the Olympics.  Right now there are some very good Russians playing in NHL with a very good one in Detroit.  By the same token we have some great Canadians still playing playoff hockey.
Hitchcock did say that he wouldn't be surprised if Russia did very well at the 2010 Olympics. "They have lots of good talent at home and some great talent in the NHL.
Both coaches stated that this IIHF event was a great tune up for the Olympics.
"It was a terrific learning experience for our team and younger guys some who were playing international hockey for the first time,'' says the Team Canada head coach. "That will be invaluable experience for Vancouver."
For his part the Russian coach was complimentary towards team Canada.
"Canada dominated the first period and we had to do something. It was a close game and at times breaks decide a contest. Today the breaks went our way."
He did however admit the win was a big deal and a great effort for his country.  The last time Russia won the IIHF World was in 1993.
Some reporters tried to compare this Russian victory with the 1972 Summit Series and asked Vladislav Tretiak who was with the Russian team to compare.
"No comparison. Not even close," said the former goaltending great. "I doubt there will be anything again like 72. But it was nice to win the title this year especially since we didn't win it in Moscow last year."
I watched my first Russian game in this Colisee some 50-years ago and as I kid living in Quebec City we were told that the Russians were emotionless.  In fact, back then true communism was in effect because players would simply pick a game jersey out of a pile and drove the P.A. announcer crazy with all the line up changes.  There were no names on the back of the sweaters.
My, how have things changed.
Sure the jersey's a better but the Russians match the Canadians or others for emotion.  I don't think I've seen a more emotional but happy superstar as Alexander Ovechkin.  He was so proud of his team's accomplishment that he went around the media room kissing his medal and showing off a gigantic smile.
In following this IIHF World title the biggest thing that I witnessed both in Halifax and Quebec City is the realization that hockey in not only an international game but we are not the only ones in love with it.  Some Europeans places can match if not surpass this country in the 'love of the game' category.
And what a different feeling.  In both the Halifax Metro Centre and the Quebec Colisee, sweaters from so many foreign countries and some of those are very colourful and resemble a walking billboard, and gave us a touch of |Europe.
The other main entity was Quebec City.  To the fans of this historic place it brought back the memories of years gone by and the glory days of the Quebec Nordiques.  There seems to be little doubt that instead of looking for more "U.S. expansion cities", the NHL should start thinking about bringing back the NHL to this place.
For I'm Alex J. Walling
AJ can be reached via email at:

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