Men’s Hockey at Sochi 2014 – Arto Palovaara’s reflections: Nobody died

NOTE: Those of you who are regular visitors to our site will know that we love to bring you wonderful guest writers and those with an excellent memory will remember that Arto was our very first. He has covered the Finnish Liiga for Betsafe, on Get Real Hockey and on his own page The Lion Chronicle. Myself and Chris cannot thank Arto enough for taking the time to write for us again, and we hope you enjoy his intriguing reflections on Sochi 2014. Keep an eye out for more news in the coming weeks, as we look to add to the talented Ice Nation UK team and unlike Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, never disappoint our fantastic readers.

Teemu Selanne ended his Olympic career with a bang, delighted most hockey fans regardless of loyalties. (Image courtesy of zastavki.com)

Teemu Selanne ended his Olympic career with a bang, delighting most hockey fans regardless of loyalties. (Image courtesy of zastavki.com)

A week after the Olympics in Sochi I decided to quit writing and watching hockey. It’s a game I’ve loved very much and have been following since I was a child, but everything has to end. That stop came this year. Not a decision that I regret at all, as it feels great to let the game of hockey go.

However, I’m not done quite yet, as I am going to talk a bit about the tournament in Sochi, let us say: reflections.

First of all, in my eyes it was a great tournament in many ways. We all could see a rising Slovenia team outplaying Slovakia totally, Teemu Selänne and Finland’s fine ending with a bronze medal hanging around their necks, after defeating USA in the Bronze Medal Game. In the final game against Sweden we all got to see Canada show everybody once more that they are undoubtedly the number one hockey country.

Yet, there were still too many other things that gave the tournament and the game itself a foul taste. I’m not just talking about the Nicklas Bäckström case, but something else.

Honestly, I really think that the media, fans, or anybody else who is involved in the game should take some moments of self-reflection about their attitude towards the game and the situations that can occur before and during an Olympic tournament.

Errka Westerlund. (Image courtesy of hs.fi)

Errka Westerlund. (Image courtesy of hs.fi)

The only person who saw the reality of it all was Erkka Westerlund Finland’s Head Coach. The Koivu brothers and Valtteri Filppula were gone from the team because of injuries and Alexander Barkov disappeared early in the tournament. Westerlund dealt with those issues as a normal person is supposed to. What else could he do than say: we go with these players? Add this as well, that nobody in the Slovenian team whined about a lack of players.

Why? Because they had no-one else other than those who participated and were signed on the roster, and they did well. Finland achieved a bronze despite all the injuries that occurred, mostly because Westerlund had a sober point of view on the situation, that those who are left should be professional enough to put in a decent tournament showing.

Let us rewind the tape back a bit in time…

Let me ask this: are we, fans, media, and sponsors etc. at all worthy to see the best players in the world in a tournament like the Olympics? Yes, in some ways we are, in a way we are not.

Sweet Jesus, I have never experienced such whining before ever in my life. All this crying over Bobby Ryan, Koivu, Filppula etc. was for me, just unbelievable.

The outpouring of emotion when Bobby Ryan wasn't selected for Team USA was astonishing. (Image courtesy of usatoday.com)

The outpouring of emotion when Bobby Ryan wasn’t selected for Team USA was astonishing. (Image courtesy of usatoday.com)

My twitter account was flooded with moaning “Bobby Ryan…Buhuu…Koivu…Buhuu…” I was thinking “where is the common sense and has everyone totally lost the plot?” Are we really that spoiled these days that we can’t appreciate that there were still so many of the best players in the world at Sochi?

I suppose this is just a part of the conduct I have noticed in other areas and I’m also guessing that all the weeping when the team-rosters were announced was not just about hockey, as I suspect that a lot of fans, some media even, had a lot of issues with something else that it is not particularly connected to hockey, but were letting their anger out on the game. Furthermore, I suspect that these whiners, both fans and media, were not feeling well about the overall situation in Sochi, they really couldn’t.

As said in the beginning, I won’t write about hockey, not as I can see in my vision for the coming years, though I might get back in some way and write for the chronicle, that might happen.

Yet, I really hope that there will be some kind of consideration…why not starting from now?

Ask yourself: Why do you even watch the game if you have to whine so much? Don’t you realize that injuries can happen? Don’t you realize that every coach has a huge group of staff behind him who are analysing players to the last molecule before signing them on to the roster? Would you do a better job? If so, why aren’t you running a national team at this level then?

My main point are these reflections, that we should think about taking the game and the realities of the game as they are and accept every part of it. I can guarantee that you will get more out of it and…may I dare to say this…will have more fun as well.

Finally, there was no disaster and nobody died either…. not even Bobby Ryan, you or team USA.

Arto Palovaara
Former Sportswriter

Follow Arto on Twitter, and while you’re at it follow Ice Nation UK for all the best hockey talk!

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