It’s time to bring back the World Cup of Hockey

World_Cup_HockeyOfficiating always comes under subjective scrutiny in any sport. As the sport continues to grow and get bigger and as games get more meaningful, we tend to focus more on the rule enforcers. In international competition, politics come into play and at the very worse can taint your sport for life.

The International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships just wrapped up their 2014 tournament in Minsk, Belarus. Taking place every May, the tournament has attempted to showcase the best of the best in international hockey. However, its timing has always been debated as strange with the NHL playoffs proceeding at the same time. Many people feel, at least on North American soil, that this tournament is really just a waste of ice.

Russia became 2014 World Champions after a controversial defeat over Finland. The Finns got robbed by very questionable officiating and after playing one of the best games in their nation’s history, was forced to be regulated to second. Calls were blown on the ice in favour of Russia and penalties that should have never even be questioned were called against Finland.

Finnish graffiti artist Hende Nieminen went to the walls of Helsinki after the championship game to show his distaste. (Photo: Hende Niemenin)
Finnish graffiti artist Hende Nieminen went to the walls of Helsinki after the championship game to show his distaste. Translated, it says “Silver is not shame, but the judges are.” (Photo: Hende Niemenin)

Talk immediately became not of the two talented teams on the ice but of the black and white striped individuals who dictate the play. Some say the refs played in Russia’s favour to make up for their horrible demise at the Sochi Olympics. You’ll never be able to find out if there was a motive behind their calls or if they’re just terrible international referees but it shines a black eye on the sport.

It’s time to bring back the World Cup of Hockey.

The World Cup of Hockey came to fruition in the mid 1970’s, originally called the Canada Cup. Doug Fisher and Alan Eagleson formed the tournament on the basis of showcasing the best hockey talent of the world through various nations and their competing squads. It would be held every three to five years and would take place in NHL venues before the start of the NHL regular season. As the Winter Olympics were still considered amateur competition and the IIHF World Championships always coincided with the NHL playoffs, this tournament would truly hold the best of the best.

1996USAIn the mid 90’s the Canada Cup changed its name to the World Cup of Hockey. The World Cup was played under NHL rules and NHL officiating. The United States won the inaugural championship beating Canada. Along with their North American counterparts, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Russia, Finland, Germany and Slovakia each iced their own squad. Another tournament was held in 2004 during the lockout and proved to be successful.

The problem is this tournament is not held often enough to put an end to the IIHF World Championships. There’s talk of another World Cup happening in 2016, a non-Olympic year, which would put a 12 year gap between tournaments. NHL rules and rinks provide the game with the best players on the ice. There’s no reason for international rules and referees to come in a game with a political contest in mind, this isn’t the 1960’s anymore.

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t be talking about this nor would I be writing this article. I don’t want to read articles about how the refs are putting the sabotage to one side. Leave that to Olympic ice skating. I’d rather listen to Don Cherry scream about the World Cup.

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WInnipeg Jets’ Tobias Enstrom Attacked And Robbed

enstrom-620-thumb-620xauto-168701It was supposed to a nice summer and offseason for Tobias Enstrom in his hometown of Ornskjoldsvik, Sweden. Last night however, somebody had other plans.

According to Reuters, Enstrom was taking out money from an ATM machine when he was assaulted and left laying on the ground. Enstrom needed medical attention and Swedish police were quick to apprehend 3 suspects.

Enstrom will return to Winnipeg next season to play for the Jets.

SOCHI 2014: Team Sweden

6567Next team we take a look at on our road to Sochi is Tre Konor, aka Team Sweden.

Hellooooooo defence. Lidstrom’s retired you say? Ha. Just take a look at this list of defensive depth: Erik Karlsson, Alexander Elder, Niklas Kronwall, Stanley Cup champ Johnny Oduya, Tobias Enstrom, Victor Hedman and there are a few other names that could pop up from now until the roster is finalized. Pffftttt. Who needs Lidstrom?

Forwards: Alright, so everyone knows the Sedins and that should be their backbone. Oh no no no my friends. Don’t forget about Hennrik Zetterberg, Patrick Berglund, Niklas Backstrom, Johan Franzen, Loui Eriksson, Gabriel Landeskog, and if Captain Ottawa decides to keep playing Alfredsson will be a welcome addition.

Don Draper eat your heart out. (Photo: kokopono. flickr.)
Don Draper eat your heart out. (Photo: kokopono. flickr.)

Goaltending isn’t as deep but that doesn’t matter when your star goaltender is Henrik Lundqvist. Tampa Bay’s Anders Lindback could wind up being back up but we all know he won’t see much playing time unless Lundqvist gets hurt.

Either way, Sweden is pretty evenly spread out. It’ll be interesting to see where they end up finishing.