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Tag: Misha Donskov

Coaching Familiarity Goes Both Ways In Western Conference Final

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

This may come as a shock to the readers of this site, but I’m going to say it anyway. Pete DeBoer used to be the coach of the Golden Knights and now he’s on the other bench coaching VGK’s opponent in the Western Conference Final.

I know, bet you didn’t even realize it until just right now.

But seriously, all joking aside, the familiarity of DeBoer and the majority of the current Golden Knights roster will play a significant role in this series.

I think it’ll help them a lot because he does know certain tendencies of the players and he can point out things that they may be able to do. I was in Boston six years, if we play them tomorrow I certainly know some of what you don’t see on film about the individuals. He’ll help their defensemen against or forwards or their forwards forechecking our D. -Bruce Cassidy

The familiarity goes both ways though as DeBoer is not the only one who has spent time coaching the other side. Golden Knights’ assistant coach, John Stevens, who runs the defense for Vegas, spent each of the last three seasons behind the bench in Dallas running their D.

Five of the seven regular defensemen played under Stevens including the most important trio of Miro Heiskanen, Ryan Suter, and Esa Lindell.

In addition to Stevens’, Cassidy believes the other two holdover assistants will be of help to the Golden Knights as well. Both Ryan Craig and Misha Donskov were assistant coaches running DeBoer’s system in Vegas.

We had our meeting this morning and I just put up my feet up relaxing because they have all the information and it’s just up to me to decide what to do with it in a couple days. -Cassidy

From systems to individuals, the awareness of what’s happening on the other bench is going to be at an all time high. Vegas’ players keenly understand exactly what the Stars are trying to do in all three zones and should have good enough memories about what is necessary to cause tactical problems. Meanwhile, DeBoer knows the strengths and weaknesses of every significant player on the roster and should be able to help guide his current team into exploiting them.

There will be more information available early in this series. There’s a little more knowledge this series, internal knowledge, and we’ll see how that plays out. -Cassidy

On top of information and knowledge, the familiarity also brings a bit more motivation.

There’s no doubt it means a little more obviously to me and that would be for anybody in this situation. I think the important thing for me here is the hockey and the focus on the players though. -Pete DeBoer

Meanwhile after DeBoer’s dismissal, there were some murmurs from players that the DeBoer system had become too regimented and there needed to be more freedom to make plays. Vegas will want to prove to themselves and to their former coach that they were right by finding holes in the system they were chained to the last two and a half seasons.

One side will win, one side will lose, and oddly enough, each probably already know exactly how it’s going to happen.

VGK University Returns; Here’s Why You Need To Sign Up

Last year the Golden Knights offered a program called VGK University in which fans were able to skate at T-Mobile Arena, get tickets to games, and attend classroom sessions taught by Senior Vice President Murray Craven and Director of Hockey Operations Misha Donskov. The program sold out quickly and the response from those who attended was tremendous, which is why VGKU is back this year.

VGK University presented by City National Bank will take place on Vegas Golden Knights game days, and feature Hockey 101 lessons including hockey basics, offensive and defensive strategies, special teams and coaching preparation. In addition, VGK University will have optional skates at T-Mobile Arena before the Hockey 101 sessions, including introductory hockey skill instruction from Craven & Donskov. Skate rentals will be provided. Participants also receive a ticket to the respective Golden Knights game with their VGK University package. -Golden Knights Press Release

Obviously, the highlights are skating on the ice at T-Mobile and attending games, but take it from me, the part that will stick with you more than anything else from VGK University will be the Hockey 101 sessions.

Last year I was given the opportunity to sit in on a session of VGK University, and to say the least, I was blown away with how great it was. Misha and Murray go incredibly in-depth teaching the game mainly through video. They illustrate principals of the game, then show video clips to bring them to life.

You can’t see the screen, but in this picture, Donskov is explaining exactly where each player is supposed to be when the opposing team dumps the puck into the zone describing the players as F1, F2, D1, etc. And not a single person in the room was confused. That’s what you get from VGKU.

The classes begin fairly basic but progress into much deeper concepts including things like forechecking strategies, defense to offense transition, and penalty kill structure. No matter who you are or how long you’ve been watching (or even playing) hockey, you’ll learn something in these classroom sessions.

Dosnkov is a former video coordinator/hockey analytics coordinator for Team Canada. He’s also been an assistant coach for three Canada gold medals (2016 IIHF, 2015 IIHF, 2015 World Juniors). Craven played in the NHL for 18 seasons scoring 266 goals and tallying 759 points in just over 1,000 games. In other words, when combined these guys have forgotten more hockey than most current NHL players know and they are sharing that knowledge with you at VGK University.

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Hiring Of Donskov Is Beginning Of Analytics In Vegas

Yesterday, Misha Donskov and his bag of hockey metrics was revealed as Director of Hockey Operations. Just last week we asked how much advanced hockey analytics will be used in Las Vegas. Donskov’s hiring suggests a heavy dose.

Donskov uses video and statistical analysis, but what’s really cool is his special program to track players success.

We’re tracking, internally, everything that we do at each event that we enter with our Program of Excellence. We have a very integrated system and we are tracking every game, every event, with our programs. Not only tracking but measuring and that information is ultimately housed on our internal site. -Donskov

Does that sound like a guy who’s casually using metrics?

There’s a significant amount of time spent on video, on analytics, on watching our opponents’ style of play, structure, player personnel, all that type of thing. It’s tracked, it’s measured and ultimately it’s uploaded to our site. -Donskov

Donskov is the statistics nerd we’ve been waiting to be hired. He essentially designed a database of player analysis based on video and advanced statistics. Puck possession, individual player points, 5 on 5 in close games, are just some stats analyzed by Donskov’s Program of Excellence. It’s widely used by the OHL, NHL, and Hockey Canada, and now he’s bringing this fantastic portal with him to Las Vegas.

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Misha Donskov Hired As Director Of Hockey Operations

Five business days, four new hires to the Vegas NHL front office. Today’s addition is  Misha Donskov as the Director of Hockey Ops. He joins Wil Nichol, Katy Boettinger, and Kelly McCrimmon on George McPhee’s staff.

Donskov was previously with Hockey Canada where he served as a manager and in hockey operations. He was also in charge of Analytics and Video making him the first on the Vegas staff with a direct connection to analytics.

Misha Donskov

Misha Donskov

He also has NHL experience in his past working with the Atlanta Thrashers and Columbus Blue Jackets  in hockey development, community development, fan development, and marketing.

Those last three are very interesting as we’ve been harping on the team that they have not done enough community engagement activities. Maybe with the addition of Donskov that will change in the near future.

He has an incredibly strong background in video analysis which will be crucial over the next year as the Vegas organization must study both current NHL players as well amateurs they may choose to draft or sign.

Donskov also has roots in Russia where his father immigrated from and he still has relatives, so he could find himself in a European scouting role as well.

Here are a couple good links about him. First, one on his analytics background, and another about his previous position with Team Canada.


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