On December 17, 2013, In Opinion, By Peter Hassett
Everyone’s got an opinion about Tom Wilson‘s hit on Brayden Schenn. While some might quote that old aphorism about how everyone has an opinion and a certain private part, I think it’s good to understand the variety of perspectives out there. By hearing each other out, we can learn and synthesize and think critically and become more tolerant of people with whom we don’t agree.
And then, maybe, we can all stop sending mean tweets to @russianmachine.
Kuznetsov is unlikely to don red, white, and blue anytime soon. The Russian team that is. What did you think I meant? (Photo credit: Alexei Kudenko/RIA Novosti)
The Russian National Team has listed 33 players for its preliminary roster at the Channel One Cup, an annual international tournament for pro European players to be held in Sochi on December 19-22. In a surprise to many observers, including me, Evgeny Kuznetsov is not on the roster.
The young forward, a veteran of the World Juniors and World Championships with Sbornaya, seems to have fallen out of coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov‘s good graces. Even when Kuznetsov was playing well, Bilyaletdinov hadn’t hesitated to put Kuznetsov on a checking line. In the last 18 months, now that Kuznetsov is struggling, he seems to have lost his spot altogether.
On November 28, 2013, In Opinion, By Peter Hassett
Wednesday’s 6-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators was awful. The Capitals are now barely about .500 and haven’t won a game in 11 days. But despite all that, we are filled with gratitude. The world isn’t so bleak as their W-L record or their Fenwick Close possession score.
Please join me while we take stock of the things we are lucky to have in our hockey lives. And then let’s eat!
Latta poses with his milestone puck. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)
The Washington Capitals have had a wealth of fourth line enforcers over the last decade: Stephen Peat, Donald Brashear, Matt Bradley, and even Matt Hendricks. But don’t lump center Michael Latta, the other guy in the Filip Forsberg/Martin Erat trade, into that category.
Over the first month of the season, Latta has been playing some of the most inspired hockey of his career. And it’s because he’s doing a little bit of everything well.
None of that is too uncommon, but Latta also has some offensive talent. He had 38 points in 76 games between AHL Milwaukee and Hershey last year. This season, he has been Hershey’s second leading scorer before getting called up to the Capitals. He is blossoming as a player, translating the finishing ability he’s been developing in Hershey into his first NHL point: a beautiful assist on John Carlson’s goal.
When the Martin Erat trade happened last year at the trade deadline, many people (including me) criticized George McPhee for trading away the team’s second best prospect for an aging forward and a nobody. Latta is belying that descriptor, and he may yet have a long career in the NHL– just like Forsberg.
Take a look at Latta’s week and you’ll see why I’m excited.
In an interview to Alexey Shevchenko of KHL Fanzone in September, Washington Capitals prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov emphasized his eagerness to jump to the NHL after the season’s end yet again. However, he said that a five- to seven-year offer in Russia might get him “thinking.”
It’s tough to blame Kuznetsov for wanting a secure financial future, but there’s one problem: He will never get that type of deal in the KHL. Let’s examine Kuznetsov’s comments from the interview.
San Jose rookie Tomas Hertl was amazing against the New York Rangers on Tuesday. He scored four goals in 11:12 of ice, including a spectacular nifty between-the-legs move on Martin Biron (who sported a .762 save percentage). It was a showboat move– most players would be afraid to try it in a real game for fear of missing– but it worked, and it got the broader sports world talking.
The Capitals don’t intend to tinker with their lines just yet, while the rest of the league seems dedicated to making Caps fans miserable. It’s been a four-day break in which players are still getting paid, but everyone still seems as grumpy as a non-essential government worker.