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Behind the Bench, January 13th - Junior Hockey News

Published: Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021  
By: Michael Moore


Um yeah. So in the first few days of the new year my laptop was hacked into and my personal and financial information was compromised. Thankfully, my banks were able to get things sorted out and my mother still knows who I am. The damage was significant. My laptop did not recover from the viral, malware, spyware removal process. So, it needed to be replaced. I have spent the last few days attempting to recover as much of my work and files as possible. It has been exhausting to say the least. Most of my work was in the cloud so my loss was limited. However, not being a usable computer for many days has left me playing catch up ever since (I heard Cleveland won). 

Therefore this week, I have very little insight into our hockey world as a result of the aforementioned catastrophe. Some Juniors are playing but it seems like Youth hockey remains limited to a great extent across most of North America. Some vicinities are slowly reopening their facilities and increasing the ability to play. (I did hear that New Jersey has expanded its capabilities the past week.) 

All of this first week’s chaos certainly dampened my spirits with a brand new year newly underway. I knew I needed to stop and reset. Like many of our players, I too have goals and aspirations that I am pursuing. Getting down and wallowing in these setbacks is tantamount to defeat. I must endure and move forward. Coach Littler sent me this article as it seemed relevant to realigning with my goals and attacking them with vigor. It struck me because it is about the Nashville Predators. It is about moving forward and putting everything into the objective without hesitation or regret. 

The Preds are not my team (just the opposite) but their season, like most of our lives, was bumpy last year (to say the least). More importantly, the city of Nashville too was smacked with unforeseen calamity. Yes, the Buffalo Bills but also they suffered a terror attack when a vehicle loaded with explosives detonated in their urban core. Sorta makes my laptop and banking issues seem kinda small in comparison. Yet like me, the Predators are making the most of the recent problems and the past season’s failings. They are pushing for the future and are going all-in to make the most out of the abbreviated season without regret.

Paul Skrbina, Tennessean

Regrets, the Nashville Predators have a few from last season.

The power play struggles. The penalty kill struggles. The offensive struggles from some of the team's highest-paid players. The rare changing of a head coach, from Peter Laviolette to John Hynes, midseason.

"We're admittedly coming off a year where I think as a team and individually we could have done better," Poile said after the team finished 35-26-8 and was eliminated in the return-to-play play-in round. "The ask is to change. The ask is to be more committed, more passion."

So Poile has been making changes and spreading a new mantra during the offseason and preseason: Play with no regrets. He said the team, including himself, could have done some things differently. That some of the team's core players — Ryan Johansen, Matt Duchene, Filip Forsberg, for example — are going to have to play better, plain and simple.

"What I'm saying is, some regrets," Poile said. "I hope the players have the same feeling."

So far, that seems to be the case. "In years past we've always been the team that outworks," defenseman and associate captain Ryan Ellis said. "The last couple of years we've been the outworked team."

Johansen, who had one of his worst seasons last year with 14 goals and 22 assists, said he is looking forward to looking forward while not forgetting the past. Not forgetting they went to the Cup Final in 2017 and won the President's Trophy the following season. Won two division titles in a row.

"We have standards as individuals and as a team,"

he said. "Especially how we were viewed as a team there for a few years, right at the top and projected to have a chance to win the Cup. We let that slip a little bit. That's something that's frustrated us. We know what this team can be capable of."

Which is proving people wrong, Johansen said. Which is avoiding taking "a step back the last year and a bit," like Ellis said. Which is living up to contracts and reaching high expectations.

Forsberg said he felt some of the core players performed better in the "bubble" last summer than during the regular season, something he believes can be carried into this shortened season.

After playing nearly 400 fewer minutes together last season than the season before, Forsberg hopes he and Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson can stick together longer this year as the team's top line.

"We can be tougher to play against,"

Forsberg said. "A lot of the thought process was going on before the bubble. I played better in the bubble than I did in season and that's something I want to keep building on."

Poile addressed Forsberg's first point by signing players such as Mark Borowiecki, Luke Kunin and Nick Cousins, grinders who don't shy away from being physical.

With just over $5 million in available cap space, Poile said he's prepared to do more should the team find itself in position to be successful come the trade deadline, which is April 12.

"I better get organized and be prepared because this is a short season," Poile said. "It's not like you get to play 65 games or so before you get to the trading deadline. It's going to be around the corner before we know it. ... We have some money available if and when we wish to expend that. ... Let's see where the season takes us. If the trading deadline becomes an important date, so be it."


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Team VHC

Author: Michael Moore
Michael is a professional hockey scout and advisor with Victorious Hockey helping North America’s top hockey prospects fulfill their ultimate playing potential.

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