AP's Coaches Blog; The Boys (and girls) of Fall

Well folks, I have a confession to make; I meant to write this article about a month ago. However, Summer Hockey Schools and my MBA entrance exam kinda got in the way. Alas, lets take a closer look at some hot topics around the hockey (and sports) world as we move into Autumn:

- I hate to burst every Canadian's bubble here, but the Toronto Blue Jays ain't goin' nowhere. The downtrodden blue birds have gone 3-7 in their last 10 games, and were spanked 8-1 in their own back yard by the lowly Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday. While it was nice to see my beloved Rays take 2 of 3 just north of the 49th parallel, the loss was a microcosm of why the Jays will not make the playoffs, let alone win a World Series in 2016. Toronto mustered just two hits on Wednesday, and their most well-rounded hitter (Mr Joshua Donaldson) is banged up. The egotistical Jose Bautista is hitting .225, and only one player in the Jays starting line up on Wednesday was hitting above .265 (Devon Travis). All I hear around town is 'oh the Jays have this guy and the Jays have that guy'... but how does this team win in September when they cannot hit for average? Throw in a bullpen that has absolutely no intimidating arms in the 6-7-8th innings, along with a very hittable starting rotation with no true "ace", and you have a recipe for disappointment.

- While I was a little late to the party on the Summer 2016 recap, I gotta say that the 5 weeks of day camps were a good time. I hope that all participants had fun, improved their skills, made some new friends, and grew as people.

- Congratulations to everyone (especially the #xhockeyplayers) who made AAA Peewee and Bantam teams! Playing at the AAA level is no small achievement, especially with the trimmed rosters. Great job by HNL in recognizing that 9 forwards and 6 defenceman is the right way to go at this level, and implementing the shortened rosters for the 2016-17 season. I look forward to spending numerous Friday and Saturday nights watching AAA hockey this winter (the days of weekend nights of bus crawls and George Street seem like a distant memory).

- I have been asked about a dozen times this month - "AP, what are your thoughts on the World Cup of Hockey?" My thoughts on the tournament are as follows: A) I love the team format. Combining the weaker European nations into one team, and having a "young guns" team was a great idea to attract fans to watch tournament games that don't involve Team Canada, Russia, Sweden, or the USA. B) The only downfall of tournaments like the WCH is the high risk of injury. Tyler Seguin, one of the top NHL players in the world, went down with an ankle injury and will more than likely be at less than 100% throughout the 2016-17 NHL season as a result. Players are going to get injured in this tournament, and the entity who will lose out is the NHL. If I was an Edmonton Oilers fan (or invested in the Edmonton Oilers), I would be very skeptical about having Connor McDavid playing in this tournament. C) I am predicting a Canada-USA final series, which will be must-see TV if the final games come anywhere close to the intensity of the exhibition game between the two teams last week.

- Oilers fans should keep an eye on Leon Draisaitl in the WCH; I think that the big German is in line for a breakout 2016-17 campaign. With Taylor Hall now playing in the swamp, Draisaitl will get every opportunity to play big minutes and (presumably) play on Edmonton's top PP unit all year. Draisaitl had 19 goals and 52 points in 71 games last season; I feel that the Oilers forward could be close to a point-per-game player this year.

- We are very excited about our upcoming Female-Only Power Skating program, which starts on Saturday, October 1st @ 1 pm (Capital Hyundai Arena). We are really hoping to build off the success of our Female Travel Program this past Spring, and hope to expand our Female programming in future years. The female game is really growing, and here at Xtreme, we want to be a big part of that growth!

Until Next Time,