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Red-hot Suter helping drive Wild to new heights

04/01/2013, 1:15pm MDT
By John Trachina

DALLAS — Ryan Suter prefers to let his play do most of the talking, and what it’s been saying is that he is having a monumental impact on the fortunes of the Minnesota Wild this season.
 
In his first year in Minnesota after seven in Nashville, the Madison, Wis. native has raised his game to a new level over the past 20 or so games, and in the process, he has helped spur his club on to impressive heights.
 
With three goals and 19 points over 17 outings through April 1, which roughly coincided with a Wild hot streak of 15-5-0 over 20 contests, including a seven-game winning streak, Suter has thrust his name into consideration for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman.
 
But while everyone notices the offensive production, Suter has quietly been playing strong defense all along.
 
“I remember the first 10 games having to answer a lot of questions about [Suter not reaching expected heights], and at the time I was thinking, ‘Man, this guy is playing well,’” Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said. “But since then, I’ve seen a whole new level. He was still playing well at that time, but since that point, he’s been nothing short of great.”
 
Suter and center Zach Parise, a Minneapolis native, signed identical 13-year, $98 million contracts to join the Wild last summer. Expectations were high in the “State of Hockey” right out of the gate.
 
“I think he’s played well all season,” Parise said. “I think now everyone’s seeing the offensive production and unfortunately, that’s what everyone looks at sometimes, but he’s been playing well all season for us. With the amount that he plays and all the situations that he plays in, we’re pretty lucky to have him. He’s really been playing well lately.”
 
For his part, Suter admitted that it took him some time to feel completely comfortable in his new surroundings, taking some time to make the adjustment from the more defensive-minded Predators.
 
“Early on, it was a little different trying to get used to new systems; everything was new, and it’s gotten a lot easier,” said the 6-foot-1, 198-pound Suter, who at 28 is just entering his prime years. “Our team is playing a lot better, and we have a good thing going right now.”
 
Wild assistant coach Darryl Sydor can relate to Suter’s situation. During his 17-year career as an NHL defenseman, Sydor changed teams seven times, including three different stints in Dallas.
 
“I’ve been in the situation where you go to a new team and you have to learn new things. It takes some time, and it did,” Sydor said. “But now you see that he’s relishing it, and he’s a guy with an open mind, he makes his teammates better. He’s just a simple guy that goes out, does his business, and right now, he’s doing a great job of that.”
 
Further illustrating Suter’s impact on the Wild: besides co-leading NHL defensemen with 28 points and 25 assists, he also topped the entire league in ice time, averaging 27:18 per game, not to mention pacing the Wild with 48 blocked shots.
 
So just how important has his addition been to the Wild?
 
“There’s a number of things,” Yeo said. “He’s helped just the overall confidence of our team, just by the way he goes out and plays. He’s just such a great leader for us, the way he prepares, the way he comes out and plays every night, the consistency he has. Every night with him, it’s something different that jumps out at you.
 
“One night it’s going to be his defensive play, the next night it’s going to be his execution and his puck work. He’s a guy that’s just so valuable in so many different ways.”
 
Suter has also been a highly appreciated presence on Team USA’s blue line in multiple international competitions over the course of his career, beginning with his time in the U.S. National Team Development Program from 2001-03.
 
“It helps you grow up, definitely, living away from your family and kind of on your own,” said Suter, who was Nashville’s first-round draft choice, seventh overall, in 2003 before spending a year at the University of Wisconsin. “It definitely helps you grow up. It’s just like playing juniors, and it was a great experience.”
 
Suter also represented the United States at three different World Junior Championships (2003-05), helping Team USA win gold for the first time in 2004, while also skating at the World Championships in 2005, ’06, ’07, and ’09.
 
Of course, the biggest stage he’s played on with the national team was as part of the 2010 Olympic team that won silver in Vancouver, when he recorded four assists in six games.
 
“It’s a huge honor, it’s always a lot of fun to wear the USA on your sweater and to play with guys that you don’t get to play with that often,” said Suter, whose father Bob was a member of the legendary 1980 U.S. Olympic squad that won gold at Lake Placid. “It’s a lot of fun playing with other Americans.”
 
If the NHL players participate in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, there’s little doubt Suter will be heavily relied upon to help anchor the U.S. defense. He’s looking forward to the challenge and feeling good about the Americans’ chances.
 
“USA Hockey is definitely doing a good job developing players, and every tournament that USA Hockey has participated in, I think the chances of winning are good,” Suter said. “I expect no differently there.”
 
The same could be said of the Wild’s prospects, now that Suter is patrolling their blue line.
 
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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Called up to The Show

09/26/2016, 10:45am MDT
By Kelly Erickson

Three USA Hockey officials earn the chance to officiate in the NHL for the first time this season

For the majority of young hockey players, their dream is to skate in the National Hockey League. They want to be the next Zach Parise, Patrick Kane, Ryan Suter — the list goes on. This season, starting in NHL training camps, three young Americans will make their dream a reality, with one caveat — instead of playing, they’ll be officiating.

Ryan Daisy, Furman South and Cameron Voss, three USA Hockey officials, were each recently offered NHL contracts and will attend their first NHL training camps this fall.

“It’s been a dream come true, really,” South said. “I’ve dreamt of being in the NHL my whole life. I grew up playing hockey from a young age and have been a hockey fan my whole life. Ever since I learned to skate it was always a dream of mine to be in the NHL. For most of my life I have dreamt of being there as a player, but once I was done playing, my dream was to make it as an official. And I made it. I can’t wait to have my first NHL game.”

Daisy echoed the sentiment, noting that making it to the NHL level as an official has been a goal of his for awhile.

“It feels awesome,” Daisy said. “I’m sure there will be a lot of emotions going on in my first game, the first time I touch the ice in the NHL with the NHL crest on my sweater that I’ve been dreaming about for years. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”

It’s a dream made reality for all three, and the ultimate payoff for many years of hard work and sacrifice.

“It’s an accumulation of all the sacrifices my family has made for me, all the supervisors and friends along the way that have helped me,” Voss said. “It wasn’t just me, it was a collection of people that pushed me and made me believe and work hard. It’s a pretty overwhelming feeling being at this point. I’m just glad all the sacrifices that we’ve made have paid off. I’m very blessed and humbled by the whole experience.”

Voss, South and Daisy were drawn to officiating from different paths, but once on it, they both climbed through the ranks and took advantage of the USA Hockey officiating development initiatives, including summer camps and the USA Hockey Officiating Program for South and Daisy to hone their skills.

Voss was the first of the three to don the zebra stripes, becoming an official at age 12, working alongside his father. It was his way to help pay for his hockey gear and get extra ice time. After closing his collegiate career at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, pursuing a career as a ref became a reality. He attended an officiating summer camp and saw all the opportunities available to work in higher-level hockey, and before long, he was working his way through them, spending time at the youth, high school, junior, NCAA Division I and professional levels in the American League.

“My eyes lit up really wide and I was just eager to start the process,” Voss said.

“USA Hockey gave me lots of opportunities to learn and hone my craft. The people involved in USA Hockey, they sacrificed a lot of time … they helped me out tremendously, especially at the grassroots level. They let me learn and grow and even let me fail and learn from those experiences. USA Hockey helped me from when I first started when I was 12 to when I got the call (from the NHL) in July.”

South played NCAA hockey at Robert Morris University. When he graduated in 2012 at age 24, he simply wanted to find a way to stay involved in the sport about which he was so passionate. He tried coaching, he instructed at camps and then he got a chance to ref a game and he loved it. He’s officiated everywhere from high school up, spending last season in the American Hockey League.

“It kind of came naturally to me and I realized it was something I wanted to pursue,” South said. “A couple of years later, it seems to have worked out.”

Daisy was drawn to officiating because it was a way to be in the game, to skate on the ice. His dream of becoming an official firmly solidified when he joined the USA Hockey Officiating Development Program during his senior year of college. With some early success, he was offered a contract to work in the United States Hockey League full-time, fueling his aspirations.

“(USA Hockey) will do everything in their power to help you achieve your dreams, no matter what level of hockey it is,” Daisy said.

From his Level 1 seminar to summer camps to his job in the USHL, Daisy has felt extreme support from every manager and mentor along the way, noting they all wanted to help him be a better official.

“You’re learning from the best,” Daisy said. “You’re learning from guys that are either currently in the NHL, have been in the NHL, officials that have worked international hockey and college hockey. They’re out there helping you become better.”

South also credits the USA Hockey Officiating Development Program as a factor in his success, noting Scott Zelkin, the Officiating Development Program manager, and the program itself gave him every opportunity to succeed as an official. To make his dreams come true.

“I can’t say enough about USA Hockey and the Officiating Development Program,” South said. “I wouldn’t have had this chance with the NHL if it wasn’t for those guys, that’s for sure.”

USA Hockey Mourns Passing of Walter L. Bush, Jr.

09/23/2016, 6:30am MDT
By USA Hockey

Hockey giant dedicated more than 50 years of service to USA Hockey

3

How do we come up with the rules?

09/26/2016, 11:00am MDT
By USA Hockey

Q-and-A with USA Hockey Director of Officiating Education Program Matt Leaf on the playing rule change process

Every season, USA Hockey strives for improvement in the game and its rules. Every four years we get to take steps toward making the rule changes official, thanks to the playing rule change process. We enter that period this season, with the final decision on prospective changes taking place at USA Hockey’s Annual Congress in June 2017. The new rules will go into effect for the 2017-18 through the 2020-21 season.

So how does the process work? In order to get a handle on what this rule change process entails, we caught up with USA Hockey’s Matt Leaf, director of the Officiating Education Program and staff liaison to the Playing Rules Committee. He helped us answer some need-to-know questions.

USA Hockey: Walk us through the process from when a proposal is received, to having it get into the official playing rules.

Matt Leaf:
The first thing you need to know is that USA Hockey has a very diverse and experienced Playing Rules Committee that thoroughly reviews and considers each proposal. The committee is made of key USA Hockey volunteers that represent coaches, officials, players and administrators. Contrary to what some people believe, it is not one or two people sitting in an office deciding rule changes.

Playing rule change proposals are submitted to me as the staff liaison to the committee. Once received, I format them into a document that compares the current language to the proposed change for each proposal. The Playing Rules Committee meets early winter and will discuss and make a preliminary recommendation on each proposal. These recommendations are then forwarded on to the various councils/sections and committees and are also posted on USAHockey.com. The board of directors will review and make any amendments to the proposals during the Winter Meeting and they are again posted on USAHockey.com for all of our membership to see.

The Playing Rules Committee will meet once more during the Annual Congress in an open forum and will review each proposal, taking into consideration any feedback received from the respective councils/sections and committees. At this time, they will make a final recommendation on each proposal to be presented to the board of directors for adoption or defeat. The board can accept the recommendation of the Playing Rules Committee or can make its own determination. Once the board has voted and adopted the changes, work on editing the rulebook gets started right away so the new version can be ready at the start of the season.

USA Hockey: So a lot of people are involved. Who can submit playing rule change proposals and how can they do so?

Leaf:
Any member of USA Hockey can submit a playing rule change proposal.  According to our bylaws, they can be accepted until Nov. 1 prior to the Annual Congress when they get voted on. A formal proposal form can be found on USAHockey.com.

USA Hockey: What are the types of changes USA Hockey is looking for? Is there a certain philosophy that the Playing Rules Committee tries to follow?

Leaf:
The Playing Rules Committee is looking for any change that will make the game better and/or will make the rules clearer and easier to understand without compromising the spirit and intent of the rules.

There are four main areas dealing with the game that the committee takes into consideration when reviewing possible changes:

  1. Fair Play – No competitor gains an advantage and the rules are equal for all participants.
  2. Safety – Players must be allowed to compete in a safe environment where players committing dangerous actions are held accountable. Although this does not exclude physical play, it must be done so within the rules and with a respect for the opponent.
  3. Adaptability – Proposed changes must recognize the changing game and also the wide range of ages, skills and participation that has to be included.
  4. Balance between offense and defense – A natural fairness between the two, where neither side dominates. This includes a special emphasis on encouraging puck possession and development of all hockey skills.


In addition, there are five areas from a rules writing style standpoint that are taken into consideration. This includes making sure common rules are placed within the same rule or section (codification); minimizing exceptions to the rules; clear and precise language (brevity); use of clearly defined words and expressions relevant to the game (definitions); and use of fundamental statements that allow readers to understand and properly apply the rules without learning each rule verbatim (local organization).

USA Hockey: You are entering your 23rd year as staff liaison to the Playing Rules Committee, and you’ve probably seen nearly every type of proposal. Is there one that stands out in your mind that might be considered a little bit “out there?”

Leaf:
There have certainly been a few submissions over the years that caused some head-shaking and gave members of the Rules Committee a reason to chuckle. A few that stand out include the creation of a two-point line where any goal scored from behind the designated line would be worth two points. The rationale was that it could boost scoring and give a team that was behind a better chance to catch up. The second memorable one was a proposal to add a section in the rules pertaining to goalkeepers that would allow for a “shooter tutor” to be used in an official game if one team did not have a goalkeeper present.

I’m sure there are a few others that I could dig up, but those are the two that immediately come to mind.

USA Hockey: Anything else you want to share with our readers?

Leaf:
Yes. After being involved and working with this core group of volunteers who make up the Playing Rules Committee for so long, I can say they are an extremely knowledgeable and diligent bunch.  They really do put the time and effort to consider every single proposal and are extremely thorough in discussing the impact the change would have while looking at the big picture of protecting the game. Regardless of whether you agree with every rule or decision they made, you have to respect the process and their determination to do what is best for the game. I am very proud to work with this group and our membership should be equally as proud to know the rules of the game are in very capable hands.

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