Hockey Canada

Button: Sweden's success can be credited to 'Canadian Way'

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Craig Button, TSN Director of Scouting
8/12/2014 9:04:53 AM
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'Canadian Way' is not a new mantra for Hockey Canada.

It is a method for helping players understand what's necessary to be part of Team Canada so that both the team and the individual can achieve success.

And this applies to all the things celebrated in Canadian Hockey - team play, unselfishness, sacrifice, commitment, skill development and following the game plan to name but a few. They just completed the Under-17 Development Camp which brought 108 players from across Canada - the beginning of the process for players as they prepare themselves to compete for Canada on the international stage.

And 'Canadian Way' was emphasized throughout the camp in every imaginable form.

'Canadian Way' is not only followed in Canada, but has proven to be a model for other countries to emulate in various shapes and ways.

Tim Speltz - the long-time general manager of the WHL's Spokane Chiefs who's part of Team Canada's Under-18 management group - has employed many a successful coach. That includes Stanley Cup champion and two-time Olympic gold medal-winner Mike Babcock along with 2008 Memorial Cup champion and newly-hired Carolina Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters.

What many don't know is that Tim also hired Rikard Grönborg. Rikard was with the Chiefs in 2004-05, but is now the head coach of Sweden's world junior team. He was an assistant coach when Sweden won gold in Calgary in 2012 and was also an assistant on Sweden's silver medal team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

To paraphrase Tim, "Rikard felt that the Swedes had to find a way to improve their game in the very hard and demanding areas - along the boards and in and around the net. Without the ability to compete strongly in these areas, it would be very difficult for Sweden to be successful against teams that exhibited these qualities."

And Sweden has produced excellent players for a long time. But now when they enter international competition, they are always among the favorites because they have developed qualities and attributes that are important to team success.

The Under-18 team competes at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup every August and this is the 24th year that Canada has competed at this tournament - winning 18 gold medals, two silvers and one bronze. This includes a streak of six consecutive gold medals and nine in the past ten years.

The only other team to win gold during that span is Sweden. 

That said, 'Canadian Way' has certainly traveled around the world. And we know the world has influenced Canadian Hockey as well, so when you watch any game between Canada and Sweden, know that 'Canadian Way' will be on display not only by the Canadian players but also by their opponent.

Success ultimately breeds imitation and as we know, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Craig Button is TSN's Director of Scouting, producing rankings and analysis of the top players eligible for the NHL Draft. He started in the NHL with the Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars and became Director of Player Personnel, helping lead them to a Stanley Cup in 1999. He also served as Vice President and GM of the Calgary Flames and later joined the Toronto Maple Leafs as a scout.

Craig is covering the Ivan Hlinka tournament in Slovakia and the Czech Republic this week and his daily reports can be seen on SportsCentre and on TSN.ca.

Sweden celebrates  (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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