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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Post Season Q and A with Coach Sumner - Part 4

Last installment of my Q and A with Coach Sumner. I've been following the playoffs and it seems that we are on course for a Vancouver-Calgary finals. I think Kelowna has been impressive but I also think their road to the Western Finals has not been nearly as tough as Vancouver after Spokane gave the Giants all they could handle in Round 2.

I'll be taking a break for a while after today... I will post if anything good comes up but otherwise I need a bit of a break to recharge the writing batteries.

Hope you guys enjoy....

Hunnex - All teams go through injuries throughout the course of the season... but the injuries to Nielsen, Rai and Richard late in the season seemed to have a big impact on the team. How much do you think that affected the team at the end of the season?

Sumner - Nielsen directly affected us because we never got him back. With Rai and Richard it’s a little tougher to measure the toll we paid. Rai had a high ankle sprain and showed a lot of character by being ready to go by playoff time. He played well for us in playoffs but I don’t believe that he was healthy enough to be at his absolute best. Richard had finger surgery and played through much discomfort. Off the ice he wore a brace on his hand to straighten his finger right through playoffs. Similar to Rai, I don’t believe David was healthy enough to play at his highest level and this led to a disappointing season for him in the end.

We had four 19 –year-old forwards and with these three all out at the same time it gave a number of younger guys an opportunity to play. This gives us a much more experienced group leading into this season than might have been the case and this could prove to be the “silver lining” in those injuries.

Hunnex - You have some veteran, experienced, former NHL players in Turner Stevenson and Jim McTaggart behind the bench with you. Talk about the experience and wisdom that each one brings to the table for your coaching staff.

Sumner - Turner and Jim are both a pleasure to work with and have many great qualities that give us a balanced coaching staff. We all share the same philosophy of how the game should be played and that all involved must learn to put the team first. I encourage input and gather ideas from both on a regular basis as we prepare game to game throughout the season.

Turner played many years in the NHL and knows first hand what it takes to get there and then stay there. Even today he is an example for our players from a physical fitness standpoint. He demands a lot out of our players with conditioning and he’s usually right along side of them doing the hard work himself. He has instant credibility as a Stanley Cup winner and has much to offer our guys as hockey players trying to earn a chance at a pro career. He makes it very clear that there is no substitution for hard work.

Jim is a great communicator. He is very good at captivating our players as his audience while telling stories that seem to be going down one path only to nail you between the eyes with the point he was trying to make right at the end. He gives complicated issues clarity, and the players always feel that he is on their side. Jim demands a tough brand of hockey because it’s the only way to play the game in his mind. It’s what he grew up with, and what got him to the NHL.

Hunnex - Any lead on your Captain for next season?

Sumner - I won’t announce my decision quite this early because we don’t have a finalized picture as to what our team will even look like at this point. We know we had a tremendous leadership group that graduated and there will be some huge opportunities for a new group to move into these roles.

I have a good idea who will be captain but the supporting cast of assistant captains will be very important to this year’s team. We will start the season and see who all did the hard work to prepare and then select our assistants from the guys that distinguish themselves from the start of the season.


Many thanks again to Coach Sumner and Ian Henry with the Thunderbirds for making this happen.

I hope everyone enjoyed reading this year and I sincerely thank everyone for reading. Enjoy the summer...


4thebirds said...

Thanks so much for doing this blog Tyler. Really enjoyed reading it. Enjoy your time off! But will be checking in from time to time to hopefully get a bit of a hockey fix!

Anonymous said...

Appreciate the time and effort you put into your blog. Have a revitalizing summer! I'm looking forward to reading you reports from training camp.... HINT HINT!


stbird said...

Great job. I enjoy reading your blog, and its great that you are doing this during our off season. You deserve a break. Thanks aging and enjoy your summer. Can't wait for next season.

Anonymous said...

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The best blog in the Western Division

stbird said...

Did anyone hear about Ladislav Scurko? He stabbed a ref to death. Check out this link.;_ylt=Ar8Vt_B1gZZ04JSkQl5jqjt7vLYF?urn=nhl,158910

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