The Stanley Cup Finals: As seen from the pressbox

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Following the NHL draft and with Free Agent Frenzy on the horizon, the Stanley Cup Finals are an afterthought.

But when you have a chance to ask one of the teams’ assistant coaches what he thought of a polarized final, you take it.

Vancouver Canucks assistant coach and New Harbour, NL native Darryl Williams and I sat down a couple of weeks ago to talk about his experience in the Cup final. Not everything made it to the page, so here are a few more of his comments.

Williams says the Canucks couldn’t get the necessary momentum in the series past the first two games, wins at home.

“Then we had a couple of injuries and the suspension to Aaron Rome and it seemed like things changed at that point. I don’t know if it was the mentality of our team or just that Boston was very close in those games and getting back to Boston helped them feed of the crowd.

“It seemed like they got the momentum, and once they got it, it was hard to get it back.”

One of the most frustrating aspects of the final was watching Tim Thomas steal the show with one the greatest goaltending performances in Stanley Cup history.

“It seemed like every time we had a quality opportunity, it seemed like it hit him and sometimes it think it did just hit him. He was always there. You look at his style and think, ‘how do you teach that?’

On the flipside, Robert Luongo delivered, at best, an inconsistent performance in the final. Williams believes the netminder shouldn’t be made a martyr by Canucks fans.

“It’s a little bit unfair because he carried us for three rounds. He did such a great job, got us into the final and the games we did win, he didn’t give up anything.”

Part of Williams’ job involves breaking down scoring opportunities for the Canucks and their opponents. Throughout the series, he says the number of scoring chances weren’t that different; the disparity showed up in the quality of chances.

“The number of pucks we put in areas we decipher as being able to go in the net or where the goaltender has to make a good save, weren’t much different on both ends. They seemed to get inside on our guys a little more than we got inside on their defence.”

••••

When the Montreal Canadiens’ Pierre Gauthier made the team’s first pick at the NHL Entry Draft in St. Paul-Minneapolis, Minnesota last Friday, he was booed lustily by fans inside Xcel Energy Center. Why? Because he chose to speak in French first, then English.

Well, Pierre. You asked for it. And as far as I’m concerned, you should have known better.

As a somewhat proud Canadian (I’m completely embarrassed by the likes of Justin Bieber and Celine Dion), I’m not suggesting it’s okay to boo anyone’s language or accent. That said, I am suggesting that when addressing an arena full of Anglophones, show them some respect and speak their language first, then address your followers back home in what passes for French in this country. The NHL, unlike Canada, is not bilingual and should not be treated as such outside the Bell Centre.

••••

To Danny Williams, Glen Stanford and anyone else involved in the new NHL team: JUST NAME IT! What’s it going to be guys? People are dying to know.

That said, isn’t it funny how people are more concerned with what the team will be called than the makeup of the team.

 

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