SUN Hockey Pool

Tournament gives Oilers experience

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:39 AM ET

VIENNA, Austria -- The silver lining to the silver medal is that Craig MacTavish is going to have a better team to coach - and might be a better coach when he returns to coach it.

Yesterday he watched Ales Hemsky and Radek Dvorak win world championships for the Czech Republic against Team Canada.

"It's certainly a huge disappointment for my part," said the assistant coach who will be back behind the bench for the Edmonton Oilers whenever the lockout is solved.

"It's just a huge kick in the gut.

"But I don't think there are any regrets in there (the dressing room)."

As for Hemsky, who won the Czech Elite League championship and was the MVP of the playoffs, and Dvorak, who scored the winning goal in overtime in the semifinal to get the Czechs to the gold-medal game ...

BEING A CHAMPION

Well, MacTavish is a big believer in what being a champion can do for you.

He's won a few.

"His season over here, winning the league championship, the MVP and the way he played here to win the gold confirms it.

"Any time you win a championship it bodes well," he said of Hemsky, an Oiler he was reluctant to put on the ice at times.

"It's the same with Dvorak. He had an exceptional tournament."

MacTavish said a lot of young talent, such as Shawn Horcoff in Sweden, had good years over here.

THE POSTER BOY

"Hemsky is certainly the poster boy of that," he said.

As for himself benefiting from the experience, MacTavish said without a doubt.

"Absolutely. It was my first time over here for the tournament and I learned a lot.

"It's a different game over here. I like the game.

"I've been coaching essentially the same group of guys for four years and it really helped to be here and evaluate this level of hockey player and compare how close our guys are."

And MacTavish says he learned what most Canadians learn when they come over here for the first time.

One is just how big the event is over here. Another is how good the hockey is in this tournament.

"It's tough to win. I never appreciated how tough it is to win this thing."

In the final he was not only coaching against two of his players, but against ex-Oiler Vladimir Ruzicka, the head coach of the gold-medal-winning Czechs.


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