Ask Coach Scott Sandelin!
Mike Eidelbes (1:30 PM)
Thanks for joining Inside College Hockey.com on The Show this week. We're pleased to have Minnesota Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin joining us today. It's a busy time for the coach, as he's leading the U.S. team into the World Junior Championships later this month.
Scott Sandelin (1:30 PM)
I'm here and ready for your questions...
Did you play in the WJC as a player? If so, do you have a lasting memory from it?
Scott Sandelin (1:32 PM)
I did back in 1984. It was over in Sweden. That was back when we wore Cooperalls. We had a lot of good players -- Kevin Hatcher, Tony Granato, Gary Suter. We didn't do as well as we liked...I think we finished 6th. But it was a great opportunity to represent our country. The biggest thing I remember is those Cooperalls. It seems like a long time ago.
Chris (York ME)
Do you think defending the gold is a positive motivating factor, or does it hurt that you guys are "the hunted"?
Scott Sandelin (1:34 PM)
A little bit of both. With our eight returning guys, I think it's going to help, and the fact it's on our home soil is a positive. I think we'll be one of the favorites...Canada is probably the favorite based on their history and the names they have on their team. People talk about pressure, but it 's a great opportunity for our guys to do something that hasn't been done...and that's win another gold medal.
As you were picking the team, did you think about possible line combinations? Any guys you are particularly looking forward to see play together?
Scott Sandelin (1:37 PM)
We certainly did. First and foremost, you figure out what kind of team you want to have -- two offensive lines and two checking lines, or three offensive lines and one checking line. We're more of the latter. There's no question through the whole process, we looked at who could play with who and where certain guys would fit in and the roles they would play on our team.
Timothy Chris, DC
Coach: How has the quality of US amateur hockey changed in the last 5 years? Will we ever really be able to rank ourselves as best in the world on a consistant basis?
Scott Sandelin (1:40 PM)
I think we're getting there. You look at what's been accomplished on the international scene with a number of our teams, namely the Wold Junior team last season. Hopefully, we can replicate that success this year. Our teams have been very successful internationally, be it the US NTDP or the Select Teams. Our talent is getting better and deeper, and looking at the players in the development programs and in other places, I think it'll be a very bright future for the U.S. internationally.
Ray (McGregor, MN)
Do you think your team might have an advantage over some of the Europeans when playing on the smaller NHL-size ice sheet in Grand Forks?
Scott Sandelin (1:42 PM)
I think the European teams have become accustomed to playing on our size of sheet. A number of them had played games on the smaller sheet, and I think the Russian team is already here playing Canadian major junior teams. It might be a slight advantage, but not like it was before.
Coach - is it easier or harder to keep the kids focused with the tournament being in the U.S.??
Scott Sandelin (1:45 PM)
I guess time will tell. I think it's nice because you're not dealing with the time changes. There's always distractions at a major tournament, but I think it's something we can control. Sometimes when you go away, you don't have all the distractions. I think there will be some, but we'll do what we have to do to keep our guys focused on the task at hand. Our returning guys who've been through it can help in that aspect, too.
Kris (St. Paul, MN)
Hey coach. Congratulations on a great season last year. As a UMD alum, it was fun to see the Dogs back in the top of the WCHA. As for the WJC, how have preperations been going so far? How much time will the team get to play together before the tournament?
Scott Sandelin (1:47 PM)
We get together on Dec. 16 and practice on the 17th and the 18th. We've got an exhibition on the 19th, two more days of practice and then another exhibition on the 22nd. We've got six days of practice and two exhibition games before we play Russia on Christmas night.
Mike Eidelbes (1:47 PM)
Coach Sandelin has time for one more question.
Bill (G Forks, ND)
Coach, obviously a big honor to coach this US team ... but how hard is it to duck away from UMD durign the season?
Scott Sandelin (1:49 PM)
It's unfortunate I've got to miss the Denver series, but those will be the only games I miss. It's always tough because this is my job, but coaching the US team is a commitment I've made and I knew it was a possibility. I've got great assistants here who can handle the duties in Duluth. It's hard to leave, but I know I'm leaving the team in great hands.
Mike Eidelbes (1:50 PM)
Thanks, Coach Sandelin. We appreciate your time. Good luck in Grand Forks!
Mike Eidelbes (1:50 PM)
We've got time for a few questions on any topic you'd like to address...fire away!
David (Newton, Mass)
Mike, who was your biggest surprise not to make the WJC team?
Mike Eidelbes (1:52 PM)
Leaving defenseman Jack Johnson, a member of the US Under-18 Team who'll attend Michigan next year, off the team surprised me. He's a terrific two-way defenseman and some analysts say he's the best prospect for the 2005 NHL Draft behind Sidney Crosby...if there is a draft.
We're almost halfway through the year ... has anybody stepped up as a Hobey favorite?
Mike Eidelbes (1:54 PM)
Not really. The Hobey race thus far seems a lot like the Heisman race -- a number of good candidates, but no one who's taken charge. Keep an eye on Jeff Tambellini at Michigan, however. He's been playing extremely well as of late.
You saw Phil Kessel last week -- as good as advertised?
Mike Eidelbes (1:57 PM)
Yes. Even though it was an exhibition game against that group of NHLers at Yost, Kessel looked like he belonged. On similar plays, he blew past Darien Hatcher and Nick Lidstrom. And he hasn't picked a college yet -- BU, BC, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin are his favorites.
As you look at the US roster, any guys you'd like to see play together? I'm thinking a Kessel-O'Sullivan pairing, with somebody else, would be pretty dynamic.
Mike Eidelbes (1:59 PM)
Kessel and O'Sullivan would be a great match...the playmaker and the goal scorer. Just for fun, I'd throw Chris Bourque on that line and see what developed.
Mike Eidelbes (1:59 PM)
Time for one more...
Do you think the WJC will get more media coverage in the nation with it being in the states?
Mike Eidelbes (2:01 PM)
I believe so. Not only does it help that the tournament is in the States, but the presence of familiar names guys like Sidney Crosby for Canada and Al Montoya for the U.S. - coupled with the absence of the NHL - can only help.
Mike Eidelbes (2:02 PM)
Thanks for the questions, and thanks for Coach Sandelin for stopping by. See you all next week...