Stan Butler's Diary

DAY FOUR, MOSCOW - Dec. 29, 2000
Post Game Report vs. Russia

I'm still sitting here wondering whether or not the best team won that game tonight. We played hard; we didn't leave anything out there. The reality is that I thought we outplayed them for much of the game.

Their goalie made some big stops and they got a couple of good bounces on their goals. But, no excuses. They won. We lost. I'm just not sure that they outplayed us. Max played another great game and he was unlucky on both of those goals.

After watching that effort, don't tell me we don't have a group of players as skilled as any in the world. And to go with that skill, there's a lot of heart. I'm very proud of the way we played the game. We could have laid back and played a dull, patient game.....waiting for them to make a mistake. But we didn't. We went at them hard and took the play to them for most of the night.

That's the Canadian way and that's what I told the guys afterwards. What is it about the games against the Russians that make it so close? Two good teams is the simple answer. But I think the deeper one is that you have two countries that produce players who are fiercely proud of their hockey roots. And that shows through in the effort they put forth.

The last close loss to the Russians that I was a part of was the gold medal game of the World Juniors in Winnipeg in 1999. I was an assistant coach to Tom Renney with that team. You know, I don't think my stress level is any different now as the head coach than it was as an assistant.

I'm a competitive guy and I have that same drive to succeed whether I'm the head guy or not. I learned a lot from Tom at that tournament. Here was a guy with as much international experience as any other coach his age in the world and I was able to learn from that. He defined my job description and made sure that all of his assistants knew that they were making a contribution. I've tried to do that here with my assistants. Kevin Dickie does a great job of pre scouting our opponents and runs the meeting with the players to go over out opponents. He's also on the headset during the game. Mike Kelly has done a fantastic job with our penalty killing unit. He also runs the defence during the games. Our video guy is Mark Howell and he goes through and breaks down video of our games and our opponents games and filters the information our way.

I wanted to mention all of those guys because I know they're feeling the loss against the Russians as much as I am. We're a team. And we're a team that is still on a mission in this tournament. I won't kid you. I know we're in tough. But as one guy said to me about this tournament: "You don't have to win all of the games. You just have to win the right ones"

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