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December 18, 2007

December 18, 2007

The Hockey News has been providing the most comprehensive coverage of the world of hockey since 1947. In each issue, you'll find news, features and opinions about the NHL and leagues across North America and the world.



NO EUROPEAN-THEMED ISSUE would be complete without an appraisal of women’s hockey on that continent. Although I’d feel better about appraising it if the appraisal weren’t so damned dismal. But it is, and there’s no getting around it. Not when the 2007 Four Nations Cup – held in Leksand, Sweden – was played before crowds numbering in the low hundreds. Not when you’ve heard from Canadian female hockey officials whom some European administrators view as novelty acts. And certainly not when you speak to Safiya Muharuma, a spirited young Canadian who adores the sport, yet is being systematically squeezed out of a playing career in Switzerland thanks to one-step-forward, two-steps-back rules newly implemented by the Swiss Hockey Federation. “It doesn’t seem right,” said Muharuma of the stipulation, which dictates that women’s teams…



LONG BEFORE IT HELD scouting combines and mock NHL drafts, the scouting fraternity quietly compiled notes on the best teenage prospects in the game. In 1981, most scouts gave the nod to an unknown 19-year-old named Jiri Dudacek. But getting talent out of Czechoslovakia or the Soviet Union was a shot in the dark. In NHL drafts from 1969 to 1980, only six Czechoslovaks or Russians were picked. It was just the year before Dudacek’s draft, in the summer of 1980, that Peter and Anton Stastny had to defect from Czechoslovakia to play with Quebec in the NHL. So with the first pick overall in 1981, the Winnipeg Jets weren’t likely to take a gamble on Dudacek, even though scouts said he was the best of the bunch. The Jets took Dale…



WHEN ILYA BRYZGALOV WAS working his way through the ranks of Russian professional hockey, the advice he used to receive from his coach with the Lada Togliatti farm team was, well, let’s just say, a little unorthodox. “He told me, ‘Hey, you can’t stop every shot,’” Bryzgalov recalled. “‘Just work 15 minutes, five minutes take a break. If you want to give up a goal, give one up.’” Luckily, Bryzgalov survived the, ahem, unconventional coaching methods to find himself in the NHL. And in doing so, he is part of a wave of European goalies that is so pronounced the league has never seen the likes of it before. As of late November, 69 goalies had played at least one NHL game this season and 25 of them, or 36.2 percent, were born…



BEING PASSED OVER in the National Hockey League draft can be devastating for a young player, but it’s probably the best thing that could have happened to Fabian Brunnstrom. To be sure, it will almost certainly make him a wealthier man. That’s because the 22-year-old Swede is an unrestricted free agent and has earned the attention of a number of NHL teams for his play. Because Europeans are now subject to the same draft rules as North American juniors, Brunnstrom is too old to be drafted and thus is unrestricted. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder has made the jump from First Division in Sweden to Farjestad of the Elite League and has emerged as a legitimate NHL prospect. He’ll likely get an offer very close to the rookie salary cap and it will now…