COACH SUTTER HOLDS COURT AFTER CANADA’S DECEMBER 27 PRACTICE
If you thought Canadian Head Coach Brent Sutter would be in a buoyant, over-exuberant mood after opening the tournament with a 5-1 win over Finland, think again. Sutter knows there’s still a ton of work to do before winning the gold medal becomes an imminent possibility. The former NHLer and owner of the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels briefed the media on various topics after Canada’s morning skate Tuesday.
On Guillaume Latendresse’s struggles versus Finland
I just went through with him what we discussed last night, about the way he needs to play to be effective, and the way he needs to play to help our hockey team and at the end of the day to help him as a hockey player. He knew that he wasn’t sharp last night, and he’ll get another crack at it tomorrow
On the selection of Justin Pogge
We went through a process with the goaltenders, and Pogge started coming along during the last half of the season last year. He had a great playoffs at that point in time. After Blair [Mackasey] evaluated all the players across the country, he felt that the four other guys that were [invited to the August Development camp] were…there because of the full seasons they had the year before. But Pogge’s come back this year, and he’s obviously a catalyst to the Calgary Hitmen and a very important part of their hockey team. I’ve seen him play enough since the start of the year to know that this guy makes saves and he’s a very good goaltender. He was a guy that I brought up to Blair and said that I definitely want him at our camp. He’s pretty calm, cool as far as he doesn’t get rattled too much, I know he was probably a little bit nervous there last night but I wasn’t worried about him he’s a pretty level headed even keel guy
On Kyle Chipchura
I’ll tell you something about Kyle. He goes out and gets hurt like he did last year [with a severed Achilles tendon], and to be honest, there was talk that he’d be out for at least a year, there was even some talk that he might be done, period. For him to rehab and to come back like he did and be able to get back in Prince Albert’s line-up before playoffs says a lot about him and his determination and his heart. Yet for me, it wasn’t a surprise because I knew the kid obviously coaching against him. You can spot leaders very easily on other teams. He was definitely a heart and soul guy, and that’s what he is on our team. He’s going to give you everything he’s got every shift. It might not always be the prettiest, but he gets the job done, and he pays attention to detail.
On the possibility of winning eight in a row at the World Juniors
The only thing that matters to me is for us to win tomorrow, period. This is about the players and giving them opportunities to…succeed in their dreams. Its about getting kids in situations where they may never get an opportunity like this ever again in their lives, and to me that’s what it’s all about. It’s about the players, and since becoming a coach, since coming back from the NHL, I’ve never wavered from that, even in our own organization in Red Deer. It’s about your players first and foremost, and that’s what’s important. All that matters is that tomorrow is our biggest game of this tournament to date, and when tomorrow’s over with, then the next day becomes the biggest day, and that’s the mindset within our team, and it hasn’t changed. It was that way last year with our team, and it’s that way with this team this year. We’re just taking it one game at a time and you try to be the best you can be in that game
On Steve Downie, who has the flu
He’s got a touch of the flu bug, and again, if we were playing today he’d probably be here and be playing. But he’s a little under the weather, so we thought we would just keep him away from the players and make sure he’s getting his rest and proper fluids, and everything involved with getting himself healthy as he can be for tomorrow
On when Devan Dubnyk will play in goal
Again, I’m taking it game by game. Pogge will play tomorrow, and we’ll decide the next day who’s going to play the following game. I’m not going to tip my hand one way or another how we’re going to do this. We are definitely going to go with Pogge tomorrow night [versus Switzerland], and make a decision the following day who’s going to be our goalie in Game Three.