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Tuesday @ The Rink

CHAT LIVE With Northern Michigan Head Coach Walt Kyle

Welcome to the CSTV.com moderated chat room!

On Tuesday, December 13 at 1:00 p.m. ET, Northern Michigan Head Coach Walt Kyle pays a visit to "Tuesday @ The Rink", presented by CSTV.com and USCHO.com. The Wildcats host Western Michigan on Sunday, December 18 on CSTV. In addition, Kyle is the Head Coach for Team USA at this year's World Junior Championship.

Walt Kyle

Walt Kyle was named the second head hockey coach in Northern Michigan University history on June 13, 2002 and has led the `Cats to three straight 20 wins seasons. He has guided the `Cats to three straight CCHA Super Six appearances and entered the season with a 65-44-13 record in Marquette. In 2004-05, Kyle led the Wildcats to a third-place finish in the CCHA with a record of 17-7-4. The `Cats secured a spot in the CCHA playoffs and advanced to the quarterfinals.

Prior to his NMU return, Kyle was an assistant coach with the NHL's New York Rangers for two years (2000-02). He was the coach of the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs, the Oilers' top affiliate club, from 1998-00. He has also coached with with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (1996-98), the AHL's Baltimore Bandits (1995-96), the IHL's San Diego Gulls (1994-95) and the WHL's Seattle Thunderbirds (1992-94).

Kyle was a two-time NMU letterman after transferring from Boston College. He captained the 1980 and '81 Wildcat squads that advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four. Following graduation, he became a graduate assistant coach and was promoted to assistant coach in 1982, a position he held until 1992. He was the program's top assistant in 1991 when Northern won the NCAA national title.

** GET YOUR QUESTIONS IN NOW!!: Walt won't be stopping by until 1:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, December 13th, and his time will be limited, so feel free to submit your questions now and we'll save them for his arrival!
CSTV.com Moderator: Welcome to another edition of "Tuesday @ The Rink". As always, we have a doubleheader for you today. Starting the program off is Northern Michigan Head Coach Walt Kyle.
Coach Kyle: Hello, everyone. It is great to be here. I'm ready to take your questions.

Brian, Marquette: Hi Coach: I heard that Andy Contois may have torn his knee up Saturday night. Do you have an update to provide? Thanks!
Coach Kyle: Andy has a strained knee ligament. He will be out until some time after Christmas. We don't think it is anything significant and he shouldn't miss any more time than that.

Jim (Denver): Given his absence of offensive production what was behind the decision to have Paukovich on your team? What are you expecting from Btler?
Coach Kyle: Paukovich is a guy that we feel fills a role of a size and strength power forward. We are going to ask Geoff to bring a physical presence to the tournament, along with the ability to check any opponents' size and strength forwards. An example of this would be Malkin from the Russian team. When you are picking checkers, offensive numbers aren't always the most significant factor. We think Chris Butler is a guy that has had steady improvement throughout his freshman year and has the ability to take a regular shift in the tournament and be a strong defender as well as a complement offensive defenseman.

Nathan, Marquette: What do you think about Nathan Sigmund this year? Also what are you going to do about the goalie controversy this season? Are you going to keep splitting the time between Janzen and Zaniboni or is it going to be one or the other?
Coach Kyle: We've been blessed here over the last three years to have excellent goaltending. Last year, particularly, with Tarkki being selected the league MVP, as well as an All-American and Hobey Baker candidate. This year, we've been put in a different situation and we've had to give some inexperienced goaltenders an opportunity to gain experience and grow through the first half of the season. This is a real difficult adjustment and although both of these guys have had their ups and downs, we are very comfortable with their progress. Ice time at that position will be determined as it is at every other position, based on performance. That is the way we will deal with that moving forward. I think Sigmund has done a very good job of living up to his expectations. Coming in, he was not a guy we had expected to put up a lot of numbers right away, but a player we expected to provide energy and aggressive play when he is on the ice. He certainly has done that.

Jesse (Omaha): How has Darin Olver repsonded to his father joining the coaching staff? Has it been tough for him having his dad on campus?
Coach Kyle: I think there would be adjustments for anyone when all of a sudden your father becomes one of your coaches. I think Darin has adjusted remarkably well. Darin has gotten off to a little slower start than he would have liked, but he has traditionally started slow and had excellent second halves. We expect nothing less than that this year.

Marc (Chicago): Which players on the National Team are you looking forward to coaching for the first time?
Coach Kyle: All of them! They are all excellent players and I'm looking forward to getting the opportunity to work with every one of them.

Alex (Coon Rapids, MN): Coach, with some of your players on the World Junior Team having gone at each other so hard lately with their college teams - especially the Minnesota and North Dakota players last weekend - do you anticipate any challenge in getting them to put that behind them for the WJC?
Coach Kyle: Absolutely not. These guys have all been exposed to these kinds of events before and play against their teammates and opponents continually. They are used to putting things behind them and coming together as a team.

Ken (Ithaca): Having coached on just about every level - NHL, minor league, juniors and college - what are the biggest differences in the game at each level?
Coach Kyle: I think there are a lot of differences between college and pro. The most significant difference is the skill level. Players at the NHL level are able to do a lot more things collectively than a group of college players. Consequently, as a coach, you are teaching much closer to the top of the learning curve than you are in college. As a college coach, you have to back up and stress the fundamentals to the bulk of your team. Professionals, for the most part, have the ability to instantly grasp concepts that may take significant repetition before a college team understands them.

Nancy (Auburn Hills): With all of the stops you have made during your career, how exciting was it for you to finally go back to your alma mater?
Coach Kyle: It was a real important moment for myself and my family. Even during the time when I coached in pro, we always kept a residence here in the Upper Peninsula and we have always considered Marquette home. To get the opportunity to bring my family back to a place that has held such importance to us was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I feel blessed to be back here and to have the opportunity to represent this community and this team.

Clark (Grand Rapids, MI): Coach, in preparing for this weekend's games against Western Michigan, what have you seen in them that allows them to play as well as they have against teams that are better on paper like Michigan State and Ohio State?
Coach Kyle: I don't know if there are many teams that are better than Western Michigan on paper. I think they have as talented a group of forwards as there is in the CCHA. They have an excellent goaltender in Bellisimo and are a real well coached team. Last year, they gave us everything we could handle in the playoffs and our team has nothing but respect for the Broncos.

Eric (Madison, WI): How much did you analyze the weaknesses of last year's WJC team - some would say that defense was one - in putting together this year's team?
Coach Kyle: Very little. Each team stands alone. Last year's team stands on its merits, as will this year's team. You are really dealing year in and year out with a different player pool. What we tried to do this summer and over the first half of the year is focus on making the right decisions and select the best players at each position. We think we've done that and the next step will be to develop those players into a cohesive team.

Rob Balmes: Despite the slower than expected start at 8-8 and 5-7 in the CCHA, how do you rate your team's overall performance thus far this season? What will it take to make a run at the CCHA title?
Coach Kyle: I think we came out of the gate and started very well. We opened the year 5-1 and then for a number of reasons, we stumbled over a four or five game stretch. But we are also in the middle of a very difficult part of our scheduleu. As a coach, I look at qality of play versus wins and losses, and have been displeased on only a few nights. Right now, we need to continue to improve as a team and get some wins and, after the Miami series, our schedule turns very much in our favor. At that point, we have only three road games remaining and this should give us an excellent opportunity to make a statement about who we are.
CSTV.com Moderator: That is all the time we have with Coach Kyle this afternoon.
Coach Kyle: Thank you for having me. I had a great time.
CSTV.com Moderator: "Tuesday @ The Rink" continues at 2:00 Eastern with Dartmouth Head Coach Bob Gaudet. See you at the top of the hour.

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