Saturday, May 10, 2008

Coaching Spezza

"I think Jason Spezza has reached the stage of his career where he really wants to be coached. To this point I think he's done it mostly on talent. But I think he now realizes he needs more than that natural talent to go to another level.

"I can see here that he wants to be coached. He wants information. I think he's come to the realization that he needs coaching help to get better."
Canada destroyed Germany today at the world championships, a 10-1 slaughter that I'm sure drew quite an audience on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in May.

Well, maybe not.

This tourney's been short on intrigue so far, but the Spezza chronicles are starting to get interesting. Hitchcock's hardly playing the Senators star, has him down on the fourth line, and today had some pretty peculiar comments in the Edmonton Sun about him.

This is a veritable all-star team, so perhaps there's no shame in sitting more than usual, but either Hitchcock's wrong here or there's some serious reason for concern for Ottawa fans.

What does he see that Bryan Murray didn't? And is this really the best way to coax something useful out of Spezza at a short international event?

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At 8:13 p.m., May 10, 2008, Blogger Phoff said...

I've never really liked Hitchcock and this quote doesn't make me like him more.

Spezza is far from being my favourite player, but there were only 5 other NHLers who had more points than him in the regular season.

What "level" does Hitch think Spezza need to get to? One can argue that there is a "level" between Spezza and a group like Ovechkin, Crosby, Malkin and Iginla, but these guys are in the stratosphere. I'm not sure there's room for anyone at that level.

Could Spezza benefit from a good coach? Of course! If Tiger Woods still regularly sees a trainer, I think all athletes can get better with coaching.

Nevertheless, I think Hitchcock's comment is a bit of a cheapshot.

At 8:46 p.m., May 10, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like he is insinuating that Spezza hasn't listened to coaching before. If he hasn't it doesn't strike me as being deliberate - he seems like an easygoing young man, and has matured in the last couple years.

Either a cheapshot at Jason Spezza or a cheapshot at his previous coaches.

At 9:13 p.m., May 10, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hitchcock is just bitter because people in Dallas, Philly and Columbus keep mistaking him for Captain Kangaroo.

At 11:18 p.m., May 10, 2008, Blogger Adam C said...

There are many more players better than Spezza than just "Ovechkin, Crosby, Malkin and Iginla", point totals aside. He has the talent to play at a Mats Sundin level and he's not there yet.

Last time I saw him play regularly, he seemed like the kind of guy who could make a beautiful no-look pass of the sort that makes you ask "how did he do that?"

Then you would realize that it's because he really didn't look, and the next time the same play turned into an ugly turnover. I think Hitchcock was right on; the guy's got talent, he needs coaching.

At 11:28 p.m., May 10, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hitch never met a microphone he didn't love so there's plenty of his endless jargon around the hockey world.

He has thrown so many players under the bus that he must be challenging Iron Mike (who's also here in Halifax) if there was a trophy for this kind of chicken crap.

Mike tried to sing and dance in Lower Deck Friday night. If I wanted to throw him under the bus I would say... Alexander Keith's.

At 12:47 a.m., May 11, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stanley Cup scoreboard says Hitch 1, Spezza 0.

At 1:08 a.m., May 11, 2008, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

Calendar says Hitchcock 56, Spezza 24.

At 3:42 a.m., May 11, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha good comments before me. I think what Hitch means is to win championships you need to play at both ends of the ice and set an example. Stevie Y for instance was an incredible offensive player but didn't start spitting out championships till he started playing 2 way hockey in the mid 90s. I remember the difference it made.

Hitch by the way Has 1 Stanly cup, 2 CHL memorial cups (but he's been there twice), olympic gold, World championship gold and has a record of W470-L292-T88. He knows what he's talking about.

At 8:57 a.m., May 11, 2008, Anonymous Justin said...

I've watched Spezza play for years now, and I totally agree with Hitchcock. There are still many flaws in his game, and lots he can improve on. Points totals don't show everything.

When Jacques Martin was coaching the Sens, he treated Spezza the same way Hitchcock is treating him now. Back then Spezza was a lazy one-dimensional player who didn't seem to understand what backchecking meant. And he hasn't really improved all that much. Offensively he could do better too. As someone already pointed out, he makes a ton of blind, lazy passes, then gets credit when they actually connect.

Hitch is right. Spezza needs more maturing and training. And I think his attitude can use some adjustment as well. He's nowhere near the best he can be. Just look at how he got shut down in the Stanley Cup Finals last year against Anaheim.

Anybody who doesn't see it needs to stop looking at point totals for all their information and/or take off the Sens-biased glasses.

At 9:52 a.m., May 11, 2008, Blogger godot10 said...

Hitchcock is pointing out the obvious, that Spezza isn't a very good hockey player.

Spezza doesn't like physical play. Spezza doesn't compete in the corners. However, Spezza likes to make pretty passes, offer risky and dangerous ones at inappropriate times.

Spezza undermined John Paddock by not reading the riot act to his good friend Ray Emery for not practising hard.

So anything physically or mentally difficult, like going into a corner, or calling out a friend for poor effort, Spezza is NOT your man, and thus, someone you don't want to go to war with.

This demotion from Hitchcock might be the best thing that has ever happened to Spezza, in that it might wake him up, just like Bowman forced Yzerman to wake up.

At 10:39 p.m., May 11, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I realize this wasn't the point of the post but Saturday in Halifax was rainy and wet. Nothing like a beautiful May afternoon. My soaking shoes, pants and hair can attest to that.

At 10:46 p.m., May 11, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Fair enough. It was nice here in Toronto, and my guess is the TV ratings weren't top notch.

At 8:21 a.m., May 12, 2008, Anonymous Rachael said...

To be fair to Spezza, during the Cup run last year he was actually starting to become a 2-way player. (I know this, b/c I remember being amazed by it). Not sure if he thinks that since it didn't win him a Cup that it's not worth the effort, but I haven't seen him do it since (at least with a recognized effort)


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