Applause to Newfoundland soccer (see story on this page), which has figured out coaching, competition and facilities are the keys to greater success abroad.
The results aren’t there yet, but I’m willing to bet Newfoundland will show steady improvement at age group and senior nationals in a couple of years’ time, thanks in no small part to the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association’s emphasis on coaching and skill development, and the addition of field turf surfaces in St. John’s, Mount Pearl, C.B.S. and Corner Brook.
In fact, I can’t quite figure out why other sports haven’t clued into the fact coaching is the foundation to player development, why sports like baseball and hockey, for example, do not get with the program and bring in highly-qualified coaches to work with the local coaches and, of course, the players.
C.B.S. soccer has just started it, and we’ve seen what the Irish and Welsh influence has had on our rugby players.
But there’s another factor that’s directly linked to results, but one that has in the past been ignored, to a certain degree — conditioning.
Newfoundland and Labrador, given its population base, can never really expect to compete with Ontario or Alberta in national play, but there is no reason why this province cannot go head to head with the Atlantic provinces, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
To do so, Newfoundland must look for every edge, and one of those advantages is conditioning.
The other team might be better skilled, but if this province’s athletes are better conditioned, the pendulum will swing in Newfoundland’s favour in the 70th and 80th minutes, or the fourth quarter or late in the third period.
It’s something that has not gone unnoticed with Michelle Healey and Rod Snow, the province’s chef and assistant chef-de-mission for Canada Games.
No longer is athlete conditioning merely encouraged — it’s now non-negotiable.
Nobody asked me, but ...
I’ve watched Nicklas Lidstrom play a number of times, at the 2006 and 2010 Olympics, and the 2008 Stanley Cup final, and I’ve interviewed and seen him interviewed. And Lidstrom comes exactly as advertised — an embodiment of a professional. I recall during the ’08 final, in the Red Wings’ dressing room, Lidstrom was approached by that fool, Cabrel Richards, whose alter ego is Cabbie On the Street, first with The Score and now, occasionally, with TSN. "Hey dude, throw a couple at ya?" Richards asked Lidstrom. Richards got on with his usual nonsense, but I watched Lidstrom answer each question with the same patience and class as if he was talking to a Sports Illustrated reporter ... So, if you’re ranking the Top Five all-time great defencemen, where does Lidstrom rank? For my money, it’s Bobby Orr, Doug Harvey, Ray Bourque, Denis Potvin and then Lidstrom ... The Guards Athletic Association is still around, but it appears to be so in name only. There’s no longer a Guards baseball team, and I don’t know of any other sport in which the Guards are involved ...
Can’t believe some children are still playing hockey this time of year. Whatever happened to the days when you threw aside your hockey sticks for a bat or a soccer ball in the spring, and got the skates sharpened again in the fall? ... The Allan Cup will be played in Newfoundland in 2015. The question is: where in Newfoundland will it be played? Mile One would seem to be a logical choice, given the size of the building and the ample hotel rooms in the city. But when you have 38 American Hockey League regular-season games, plus playoffs, I’m not so certain amateur hockey is a hot ticket, even if it is for a Canadian championship ... Mount Pearl and Conception Bay North senior hockey teams are bound and determined to get what they feel is their share of proceeds from the 2010-11 Herder Memorial Trophy championship, so much so they are taking the Avalon East Senior Hockey League to court. A Statement of Claim has been filed in small claims court in which the Blades and CeeBees indicate they are entitled to $10,000 apiece of Herder money ...
When will the St. John’s Baseball League get the ball rolling on a fundraising effort for have Field Turf installed at St. Pat’s Ball Park? Actually, the league and minor baseball should hook up to get a minor field built on that foolish, little soccer pitch adjacent to St. Pat’s, and construct an office and storage complex for minor to the current clubhouse/dressing rooms. And, at the same time, spruce up the old ball park ... Why are the Canadiens looking to recycled coaches Marc Crawford and Michel Therrien to fill the void in Montreal, rather than some bright, young coach from the minors or junior hockey? Right, the guy must know how to speak French, and Guy Boucher’s already working. Remember a time when people were hired for their abilities, and not because they could speak two languages? ... My guess is Patrick Roy is biding his time (and counting his money) with the Quebec Remparts juniors until the Quebec Nordiques, Part Deux, arrive in the provincial capital when the new rink is built ...
Robin Short is The Telegram’s Sports Editor. He can be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org