Two American born players have reached the top tier level in the highly competitive national Spanish Academy System. This is the first time in history that any American player has reached this level.

Ander Egiluz will play with Athletico Bilbao’s Juvenil A in the 2016-17 Division de Honor next season. Egiluz is a USMNT youth player and played for Athletico Bilbao’s Juvenil B team in Juvenil Nacional this past season.
Hayden Lyn Canizalez will join Hercules CF de Alicante Juvenil A, Division de Honor for the 2016-17 preseason after passing his trial in May. Canizalez had been playing with UE Sant Andreu in Barcelona, Spain and a semi-pro USPL team in Las Vegas, NV.  While Canizalez has not receive a national cap yet, he definitely fits the profile of a national player.
Athletic Club Bilbao’s group in  in the Juvenil (U19) Division de Honor category include Osasuna, Real Sociedad and Eibar.
Hercules CF will compete in the toughest group in the Juvenil (U19) Division de Honor category. The group includes former national champions Villarreal, Valencia, Levante, Alicante, Atletico de Madrid, Elche, and Real Murcia, to name a few.
The U.S. Men’s National Team future looks bright as players like Ander and Hayden continue to flourish.
- News release provided by Edwin Andreu Josep Canizalez, North America Director OX Marketing Esportivo

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leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs 2016: a circus every night

I’m watching the 3rd period of the Toronto Maple Leafs v Anaheim Ducks. It’s tied 4-4, but in the context of the NHL standings, it’s a mean-nothing game – just like every game the Leafs have played since around, well, opening day last October. That is, unless you’re tracking the Auston Matthews sweepstakes…and here, in their spot near the very bottom of the table, the Leafs’ every loss moves them closer to drafting the young American phenom.

So I’m not watching the Leafs because I think they might win tonight, put together a little run, and make the playoffs (they were mathematically eliminated a while back). No, these days the Toronto Maple Leafs are worth a look because they’re playing fun games. All those Toronto Marlies in the lineup are making for interesting hockey: hockey that’s full of mistakes, to be sure; but fast, entertaining, committed hockey. As often as there are gaffes and giveaways (pretty regularly), there are flashes of speed and skill.

Mike Babcock hasn’t coached a team this young since he stood behind the bench decades ago in junior hockey. Some nights he must feel like he’s running a daycare centre. He says, “they’re fast – sometimes they go to the wrong place, but they get there fast.”

Too true. Zach Hyman skates like the wind, and Morgan Rielly is as good a skater as Erik Karlsson or Drew Doughty. Soshnikov gets his snap shot away as quickly as anyone in the league. And William Nylander does it all, and does it gracefully and with a vision that belies his 19 years.

this boy won't need a razor anytime soon

this boy won’t need a razor anytime soon

To me, the vaunted “rebuild” is already working. It’s a petri dish, a work in progress happening in prime time. Trading away stalwarts like Reimer and Winnik, lodestones like Kessel and Phaneuf, and outright plugs like Clarkson has cleared the decks for a cadre of young players to develop in public. Right now I’m seeing Nylander and Hyman matching up against Getzlaf and Perry, Carrado and Marincin v Fowler and Bieksa – and the Marlies kids are doing a decent job. (NB – game’s now done, Leafs winning 6-5 in overtime. Not exactly textbook defensive hockey, but a thousand times better entertainment than what Toronto fans have had to put up with since the Mats Sundin years.)

The Leafs have 10 games left, and I’ll do what I can to watch as many as I can. And for the first time in years, there is some genuine interest in Toronto over who’ll be in the lineup come the start of next season.

 

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I first heard about this piece on @fan590 as I drove in my car, then finally read it on the increasingly popular Players’ Tribune: Doug Gilmour’s “Letter to My Younger Self“.

Gilmour’s career is a truly inspiring story of a talented player never properly rated due to his size, not only making it as a pro hockey player but winning it’s ultimate prize, the Stanley Cup.

There’s more to his story of course and while the piece like so many on Player’s Trib is clearly ghost-written, it is well worth the read. Lots of good nuggets in the piece, whether you are a fan of the Calgary Flames (where Gilmour won his Cup) or the Toronto Maple Leafs (where Dougie became a legend for the determined way in which he almost led them to a Cup), or if you are an aspiring hockey player.

I like this one, where Gilmour talks about how his coach with the St. Louis Blues, Jacques Demers, explained to him his role on the team:

“Your job is to match up against the best players in the world. If they score on you a lot, you’re going to lose your job. This will be made very clear to you.”

It amazes me that a player who spent most of his young hockey life being told he was too small, gets assigned the job of going up against the best players.

It’s as if his coach was trying to test him.

What’s more amazing is that not only did Gilmour pass that test but went on to become one of the best players himself.

In fact he became so good that he became an example to other players around him.

When Pat Burns was hired to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs, he explicitly told him: “Doug, I need you to be the best player in practice. Every day.” Burns knew that if his best player was in fact the best player on the team, day in day out, in games and in practices, his team would be better for it.

I’m sure there are a few things Gilmour would want to say to his younger self but I wouldn’t change much – except maybe confronting Kerry Fraser over that Gretzky high stick.

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A raise is in order for the savvy game producer who came up with this one.

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