With the 2008 World Championship scheduled for Canada, the Finnish national team figures it will have its best chance of winning with a Canadian behind the bench.
Doug Shedden, who was last seen in North America in 2005 coaching the Toronto Maple Leafs farm team, has been named by the Finnish hockey federation as head coach of the team for the 2008 tournament in Halifax and Quebec City. It marks the first time a Canadian will have coached the Finns and the news has received a fair bit of criticism in that country, but GM Jari Kurri is convinced the right decision has been made.
Â“You can't make everybody happy,Â” chuckled Kurri. Â“It's a touchy subject back home because we're talking about the national team and people think it should be a Finnish coach. But we think this is a great chance for us.Â”
After not being re-signed by the Maple Leafs when they moved their farm team to Toronto from St. John's, Shedden took a job last season with IFK Helsinki. He moved to Jokerit this season and has them in second place in the Finnish Elite League.
That Shedden is a Canadian who has spent most of his coaching career on the smaller ice surfaces helps, which is why Shedden's contract is only for the '08 tournament. After that, he will turn it over to assistant Jukka Jalonen, who will be Finland's head coach through the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
Â“(Shedden) has a good reputation as a coach back in Finland and a lot of people have realized that,Â” Kurri said. Â“We think he can help us with the Canadian style. He has been very successful back home and very well-liked as a coach and he brings something to the game that maybe will give us a chance to learn.Â”
POX ON PENGUINS: Does anyone really believe the recent Â“impasseÂ” in negotiations for a new arena in Pittsburgh represent the end for the Penguins in Pennsylvania?
This is just another step in the process, the part where one side gets all huffy and uses its gamesmanship to speed up the process.
And if this does fall apart and the Penguins do end up moving to Kansas City, a pox on all their houses, particularly on the Penguins for getting too greedy and taking the quick fix in a free rink. Before they move, perhaps they should ask the Phoenix Coyotes how well it has worked out moving from an established hockey market with tradition to a place that has all the makings of a great placeÂ…except for the fact that nobody knows anything about hockey or cares about it.
Many industry observers maintain the Penguins are being given more than an adequate deal to stay in Pittsburgh and even with the promise of a new rink and half the revenues from it, probably won't do as well in Kansas City. A brand new rink will be cold comfort when the novelty wears off and the Penguins are no longer the most exciting young team in hockey. Then they run the risk of becoming the Kansas City Scouts reincarnated.
SAY WHAT?: Not to disparage another publication, but we think THN's ranking of GMs in the NHL, which is in our most recent issue, is just a little more accurate reflection than the one ranking all GMs in professional sports in Forbes, at least from a hockey standpoint.
We have Ken Holland of the Detroit Red Wings ranked No. 1 and point to his three Stanley Cups as evidence. Forbes based its ranking on a completely objective numerical formula and ranked Holland 90th out of 98, last among the 25 NHL managers ranked.
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