The ‘World’ Cup of Hockey
“There will be protests in Bratislava and Riga. #FreeLatvakia” ~ @Steve_Dangle
Well, truthfully these protests will be non existent, but a recent Steve Dangle podcast pricked my attention for an amazingly brilliant rant/argument against Gary Bettman’s tournament to stick a finger up towards the IOC by the Sportsnet Blogger, who is potentially one of my favourite bloggers out in the hockey world, and inspired me to write this opinion piece on the forthcoming World Cup of Hockey and in fairness how stupid I believe it is.
In the beginning, it was actually following the mantra of a World Cup after the announcement of the big nations such as Canada, USA, Russia, the main Scandinavian countries and the Czechs. These are the few teams you’d easily expect to see in any major hockey tournament around the world, potentially minus the faltering Czechs who’ve been declining slightly ever since Hasek retired.
However, in the basis of the 8 team tournament the madness slowly begins to sprout. Team North America [Under 23s] and Team Europe. Logic normally dictates that you actually have nations perform at the World Cup and not continents and a completely constructed team for the sake of it. The use of Team Europe slightly defeats the correct format of what a true World Cup would be. In my personal opinion, it also withdraws a major emotional part of a major tournament: the underdog story. In this format you won’t see the brilliance of Team Slovenia from Sochi alongside Latvia’s normal over-performance of these minnow nations. The under-23 team also makes little sense in this scenario, pointlessly taking up a position for a team.
“Why not create an Over 35s team?” – @Steve_Dangle and @AdamWylde ~
This, alongside the guys’ proposal for Fetty Wap as the Under 23’s anthem, is an argument I seriously can support for the craziness of the entire thing.
Bettman’s financial venture to gain himself personal profit and credibility against the Olympics, in a potential attempt to avoid having to enmasse send the world’s talent across the globe to South Korea in 2018 or Beijing in 2022, which also should be seen as allowing markets to grow and gain the support for the league and the sport in full, avoiding the sport falling even further in American markets into 5th, below the ever rising MLS.
The Missing Nations:
Let’s list some of the missing European nations which should have a right to slot into the tournament, basically the nations of the top division in the IIHF World Championships. Germany, Switzerland, Latvia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Switzerland. These nations should hands down be shoe-ins for any potential ‘World Cup’ and that’s without the maybe nations of Denmark, France, Belarus or even someone like Norway.
It’s quite farcical, leading to a criticism that hockey is basically a 4 or 5 nation sport, a criticism that the womens’ game suffers on a constant basis with. Bettman and the entire cast of people who came up with the structure severely need to re-evaluate the entire tournament, to make it viable, when not played in a can’t lose environment such as Toronto, and interesting to those outside of the structured hockey-loving nations
The environment in which the re-birth of the tournament is potentially the biggest downfall. With the 2016 tournament being hosted in Toronto, we will see a highly financially successful tournament with the selection of one of the largest hockey markets in the world, more than likely THE biggest market. With the almost inevitable success of next year’s tournament, ideas of those at the lead of the event will lead them to believe overall it was a success due to them getting what they wanted.. a whole lot of money.
Surely though the most successful tournament and the biggest thing the World Cup of Hockey could lead to is a worldwide growth in the sport, something which the Olympics at least does its best to do. I’m sure other people who are emotionally invested and financially invested want the best for the game and major exposure to create a substantially better product icing to draw the fans in.
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