Here is the reason why the world cup of hockey hosted by the NHL is a complete sham.
Quite simply the US and Canada have stacked the deck as much as they can to make sure a team from this continent wins, which is to say that the NHL has rigged it that way.
Here’s the teams for the tournament per the NHL.
Team Canada, Team Czech Republic, Team USA, Team Finland, Team Russia, Team Sweden, Team Europe and Team North America.
At first glance it doesn’t seem too weird. Unless you’re familiar with International play such as the World Championship you might not even think any strong teams from Europe have been excluded but Team North America has to stick out like a sore thumb. What other countries is that team going to cover? Canada and the US are already represented. My point exactly. More on that in a minute.
First let’s look at the rationale for determining the European teams. Russia, Czech Republic, Finland and Sweden are all obvious choices. The supposed idea behind having a team Europe seems obvious too. One big team for all the countries that the NHL deems too weak to field a team of their own. This team can only be comprised of players from countries not already represented. OK that seems fair except that Team North America no longer makes any goddamn sense.
Well that’s because Team North America is comprised of North American players under 21. So the home continent is double dipping but won’t let any of the big 4 European countries do the same. Yeah that sounds completely fair.
All this is being done in the name of parity because North American arrogance can’t fathom the thought that maybe there is one more team in Europe that could compete in this pool and make Team North America unnecessary. Let’s see if we can find one.
The first team that sprang to my mind was Slovakia. A quick look at the medal winners from the World Championships of Hockey, put on by the IIHF, shows that since 2000 Slovakia has one gold medal, two silver medals and one bronze. For comparison the US has two gold medals since 1921 and none after 1960. They have just 18 medals total. Slovakia may only have 4 since the split in 1993 but before that, and yes they should get credit for these as well as the Czech Republic, Czechoslovakia won 34 medals.
If those medals were included in their total the way they are for the Czech Republic then they would be right behind Sweden and way ahead of the US in total medals, which would also put them ahead of Finland. The only other teams that high up the medal chart are all represented.Add to that the fact that the International Ice Hockey Federation has them ranked as 7th in the world, behind the six legitamate teams competing in the so called World Cup this fall.
Now pardon me but I think leaving them out in favor of an under 21 US/Canada team is a total slap in the face.
This event clearly isn’t about international competition. It’s a thinly veiled promotional event showcasing NHL talent and the NHL is still comprised mostly of players from North America. You can see a handy chart of players by birth country since here. Based solely on representation if anyone should have two teams it should be Canada but I wouldn’t support that either.
Having taken up the torch for Slovakia then here is how my loyalties will be prioritized for this event.
Czech Republic (nothing new here)
Finland because I’d really like to break out my Rask haiku/dance from the Olympics again and I really like their chances.
Anyone who can beat the US, Canada or Team Bullshit. Yes that includes Russia and Lundqvist-ville! (Lundqvist-ville, also known as Sweden )
That’s how serious I am about this but if there’s no one left to beat team USA besides Canada then I’ll root for my home country. I guess. If it comes down to that. Jeesh!
Not So Fun Fact:
Did you know that when the Czech Republic and Slovakia became separate teams only Slovakia was relegated to a lower international tier of competition? They had to earn their way back up to where they had been as one country. Kinda sucks huh? But the managed it in three years.
PS if you think having multiple allegiances is strange, you can read more about it here. Basically I care more about having a really exciting competition than national pride and when it comes to hockey, I think even Canada can use the occasional humility check now and then. You can deport me as a Russian spy if you want but I would do a happy dance if Ovechkin came out on top of this thing. Cause let’s face it. There is nothing the NHL would hate more than that.
PPS I researched this with google and I’m 100% sure any intern in the NHL office could have done the same if they actually cared about parity.
List of medal winners from the history of the World Championships – here
Details on the Slovakian men’s hockey team can be found here.