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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

WWYDW: Summer Hockey

Tony Gallagher was a guest on TSN 1040 earlier this week to discuss Canucks prospects and the WJC Summer Showcase. There have been a few well-publicized battles between Canucks Army and Gallagher in the past, but that doesn’t mean he’s incapable of making salient points. I’d actually argue it’s something he does with relative frequency.

Gallagher had a bone to pick with the showcase and the concept of playing hockey in the summer in general. The Canucks have a history of bad luck with prospects playing summer hockey that goes back further than Elias Pettersson aggravating an injury earlier this month. Jared McCann also suffered an injury in 2014 at a summer event.

Gallagher’s argument was essentially that high-end teenage players already play too much hockey to begin with and would be better served hitting the gym in the summertime, and getting some rest. I’m inclined to agree given how important a prospect’s first summer is in their development. What I think is irrelevant, though. We’re here to find out what you think.

What do you think of summer hockey? Should the Canucks keep their players out of the summer showcase in the future?

Last week I asked: Where do you see Subban heading in the next year or so? Does he have a future with the club? Do you think the team should be patient, or cut bait while he still has some name recognition?

Goon:

Green and Baumgartner have had lots of time to get to know Subban and what he’s capable of over the past couple of seasons in Utica. It’s ultimately Green who decides who is in the lineup every night – if he wants Subban and thinks Subban deserves a shot, he’ll be there.

I hope we get a chance to see whether he can hack it at the NHL level. Given that management brought in players like Del Zotto and Gagner in the off-season, it seems like they’re more open to playing the high risk/high reward game that is Subban’s calling card.

Van City:

I think he definitely has a future with the club, I just see him as a late bloomer who needs a bit more development

Billy Pilgrim:

I don’t think he will earn a spot in training camp (but at least keep him around longer this year!), as it is likely not enough time to prove that he has improved enough defensively. But if he proves that he has rounded out his game and deserves an NHL roster spot after a month or two with Utica, make room for him by trading/demoting Wiercioch. I think it’s worth hanging on to him for at least another season at least, as his offensive upside has value beyond what you probably get back in a trade. His AHL stats line looks an awful lot like Adam Clendening’s, though, so we should temper our expectations for Subban as a Canuck or as trade bait.

Moderated Post:

Unless Benning’s changed his mind again about what he wants the team to look like, Subban’s path to the NHL is blocked by Stecher. Stecher did well last season and Benning has a vested interest in seeing him succeed.

Jyrki21: 

I think this iteration of management made up their minds very quickly about Subban (remember what a chore it was even to sign him), and have been hesitant to move off that first impression. So while some may allege that the name recognition gives Subban unwarranted hype or even an inside track, all else being equal, I think the odds have been largely stacked against him from the beginning. At this point, with whatever “reputation” he has (which is probably a combination of simply observing that he is small and the fact that all offensive defensemen are just sort of presumed to be net negatives these days despite any math), it would be near-impossible for him to earn his way onto the team, and I expect he will be cashed in for a late pick during or just before the season.

I think back to last time the Canucks were really bad, and I remember a number of phoenixes rising from the ashes despite not having the highest of expectations at the time — Näslund, Bertuzzi, Aucoin, Cooke. The luxury you have when your team is in a trough is that you’re not operating with no room for error. Give the kid a chance, why not?

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  • TheRealPB

    Are there any teams that don’t participate in the summer tournaments, development camps and training? I don’t disagree that we tend to overtrain all athletes, especially junior ones and in all sports which are increasingly competitive and organized and seem a lot less fun. I notice that in college hockey too where the athletes show up on campus mid-summer and are in skating drills and scrimmages within a week. The NCAA is perhaps the weirdest with hockey of all its sports as students can commit to a school as early as 14 but most of them don’t actually show up till they finish Tier 2 or the USHL or a prep school — the average age of NCAA players for their first year is 20.6 years. All that adds up to way too much hockey for young players I think.

    But I also think that’s the way the sport as a whole is trending. So it’s not really a “Canucks” thing. And if the Canucks were to hold their players out of summer activities I would guarantee the management group would be decried for being regressive and not committed to player development, mostly because it runs against the grain of what everyone else is doing. But maybe I’m wrong — is there a single pro franchise that doesn’t do this with their prospects?

  • Bert

    Yes – considering LinBenning are obsessed with bulking up every young player they bring in, surely the time is better spent lifting weights, doing the Grouse Grind and entering as many pie-eating contests as possible…

  • Dirty30

    The trend in hockey seems to be to telescope careers — start younger and finish younger. Seeing another guy like Gordie Howe play in his 40’s, 50’s is unlikely. Even guys like Jagr, Doan and Iginla are finding 40 is the end.

    So young guys start sooner, train and play harder, but have shorter careers in all likelihood.

    That makes participating in summer camps likely as part of their career trajectory. Showing up out of shape and playing into fitness won’t fly today. Having a smoke on the bench and a beer between periods would get you booted off the team these days.

    So should kids play hockey year-round? Probably not. Will it happen anyway? Yes.

  • Dirk22

    As long as there is a summer tourney it would be weird for the Canucks not to allow their prospects to play – that being said the tournament is a waste of time. As Gallagher says, just a TSN cash grab.

  • Gregthehockeynut

    The way Bo Horvat vastly improved his skating in off season training is a great model for these new prospects to follow. The speed players on the small side would definitely benefit more from a structured fitness and nutrition program as well. Young players facing each other are not experiencing seasoned pro match ups. A mentoring program with veteran players like Malholtra would be a good choice instead of these exhibitions.

  • ManicSt

    I agree with Gallagher on this, and I think he’s mentioned in the past that bringing players out to summer development camps is equally a waste of energy and money, and the resources could be better spent on putting together training plans for players in their home towns while letting them rest.
    I’m inclined to agree. Flying players around the world and having them play in “showcases” only really teaches them to stick out rather than win games, risks injury, and creates fatigue from so much travel (yes, it even hits young people). As well, it keeps them from just getting away from the business and politics of pro sports and being young and enjoying their lives. They can still work on conditioning, as well as skating and other skills without being at a whole bunch of pressure-filled but not really meaningful events. Fatigue takes years to set in, and putting all this wear on players at this age catches up to them later on. Minimize it.

    • detox

      Gallagher is just sour. Kids can refuse if they are worn down or for whatever reason they want to use.

      How long is it between the end of chl regular season and the showcase? I’d guess some kids would be playing in a summer league if they weren’t playing in the showcase.

      all this stuff is usually looked at on a case by case basis.

  • defenceman factory

    From a fan perspective I enjoyed the summer showcase.

    Players had 4 games over a week and most hadn’t played competitively for a few months. Rep team tryouts start in early September. Every one of these kids has spent at least a couple weeks of August on the ice at hockey schools since they were 9 years old or younger. Playing hockey in August is not a phenomenon that starts at 18.

    The Canucks should absolutely not restrict their prospects from participating in the summer showcase. These kids grow up dreaming of representing their country in international play and this mini tournament gives them a chance to improve their chances of making the world junior team. Why would you deprive a player of that opportunity? I think Gadjovich improved his odds of making team Canada because of the summer showcase. Ask Gadjovich what he thinks of the idea of the Canucks maybe depriving him of that chance.

    Every one of the players has parents, coaches, trainers and doctors to help them make informed choices. They don’t need advice from crusty old farts like Tony Gallagher. If asked, I bet virtually every one of those kids badly wanted to be in the showcase and were ecstatic with the opportunity.

  • Rusty bucket

    As a S/C coach that works with predominately hockey populations, I feel, and so do my colleagues, that developing players NEED to get off the ice, out of their skates, and into the weight room in the offseason. Not just to become stronger and faster, but to counter the postural and biomechanical changes that they acquire through playing so much hockey.

  • Sandpaper

    I think all these kids should have to go out to the workforce every summer to help build stamina. I would suggest they try being scaffolders for a good strength training. See if they can make it in the real world.

  • All pro hockey players play too much in North America, not just the young ones. It’s almost like the powers that be (and the coaches who are petrified of squad rotation) forget that it’s a high-speed contact sport. The game would probably be better served by more rest and better health all around. Injuries already have way too much of an impact as it is.