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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Patten’s Take On Jokerit And The KHL

The Finnish team has decided to cut ties with SM-Liiga and join the KHL.

I feel this is possibly bigger news than it is being downplayed as the KHL will be in nine or ten different countries across eastern Europe.

NHL beware?

Many would consider a move like this a concern for the NHL. Finland and Scandinavia have been some what of an NHL hotbed, seeing as they have opened their season every year since 08 (baring the this years late start due to the lock out).

Although again one can argue that their slower, spread out game is not as attractive as the NHLs. In addition to this they have done very little and seem to have no interest in attracting non-Russian speaking markets. Perhaps that is an intentional move there.

Jokerit have had a fair history of success; winning SM-Liigas Kanada-malja trophy several times over the 90s and early 2000s.
They also have accommodated players such as Jari Kurri, Teemu Selanne and Several of the Ruutu family to name a few.

This move will definitely turn a few heads in Scandinavia the K’s way this coming season, and Its clear the KHL expansion is not slowing down. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out!!

Finnish Team Jokerit Helsinki To Leave SM-Liga And Join KHL

Jarkko Ruutu.
Jarkko Ruutu.

In what seems as a shocking move, Finnish based team Jokerit Helsinki has announced it will leave the very respectable SM-Liga (Finnish Elite League) for the KHL starting in the 2014-2015 season. Jokerit is one of the more established teams in SM-Liga with quite the following. This proves the KHL is adding one more step to become an international competitor to the National Hockey League.

The KHL is currently comprised of 29 teams based out of 8 countries. Jokerit Helsinki will become the ninth representing Finland. Croatia is slated to enter the league this coming season.

KHL_logo_2012All 29 teams are spread out throughout Euro-asia with the far east being newly HC Admiral Vladivostok which plays on the east coast of Russia across from Japan. Spearheaded by Alexander Mogilny, Vladivostok is hoping to turn itself into a contender within it’s first year and play for the Gagarin Cup.

Jokerit has had several stars breakout over the years including Esa Tikkanen, Teemu Selanne, Ville Laino, Erik Karlsson and currently Valtteri Filppula’s older brother Ilari and Jarkko Ruutu. It will be interesting to see how this team of Finnish faithful will adapt to the Russian style and league.

Calgary Flames Miikka Kiprusoff Announces Retirement

As if things in Calgary couldn’t get any worse, their star goaltender has officially announced his retirement from the game. Or has he…

“#BlueJackets asking 4 permission speak to #Flames Kiprusoff in hopes of talking him out of retire’mt. Doesn’t app’ he will change his mind

— Nick Kypreos (@RealKyper) June 25, 2013″

Why the hell would the Blue Jackets want Kiprusoff when they own this year’s Vezina Trophy winner?!

No, Kyp, this Kip is done.

Kiprusoff was selected in the 5th round of the 1995 NHL entry draft and started his career with the San  Jose Sharks. He made his debut in Calgary in the 2005-2006 where he has played ever since. It hasn’t been an easy road with the Flames. Rumors were constant every year of if he would stay or ask to be traded. With the team he’s had in front of him the past few years, I can’t blame him.

Kipper. (Photo: Scotmandu. flickr)
Kipper. (Photo: Scotmandu. flickr)

A native of Finland I could see Kiprusoff heading back over there and landing a spot with the national team. Maybe not playing but goalie coach or otherwise. This won’t be the last you’ll hear of him that’s for sure. Watch out Sochi.

His NHL Career saw him play in 599 games with 311 wins and 44 shutouts. Not too shabby if I don’t say so myself.

Being An Away Fan In The Opposing Team’s Arena

Unless you’re the Ottawa Senators (cause banning Toronto fans into the Crappy Tire Centre can’t be too far behind.), fans from the opposing team in that evening’s game might be scarce. Sure there might be a couple of fans who live in town or a few might make a road trip down but there a few things to consider if you decide to head down this road.

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1. Don’t Be A Drunken Loud Mouth Idiot
mad_hockey_fanThis is just asking for it. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen away fans lose their mind and get into people’s faces when their team scores only to be heckled even worse by the home fans surrounding them. Being a loud mouth in general is stupid but in certain arenas, this isn’t taken too lightly. Sit down, shut up, fist pump and scream a couple “Woohoo!” if you must but relax. You’re a visitor. (Toronto fans in Ottawa disregard this as I actually think it’s funny.)

2. Do Not Flaunt Your Jersey

Really Rihanna?! Really?! Sigh.
Really Rihanna?! Really?! Sigh.

I’m not saying don’t wear it. In fact, I recommended every fan in every sport to wear their jerseys with pride. Just don’t flaunt it. You’ve already been spotted with it on and mentally noted  as the enemy. For some reason, this is worse in places like Montreal and I hate to it, Boston. Personal story time: A few years ago my cousin, a Leafs fan, took in a regular season game in Montreal. He got up and did the occasional high fives and woohoo’s after every Leaf goal but was very tame. The Leafs ended up winning and on the way out, with him flaunting around his jersey got stabbed in the leg. Yes, it was stupidity on both parts but for future reference, just don’t do this. Granted, some people are just complete morons, hence this video:

3. Do Not Get Into The Home Town Fans Faces

This ties in with statement number 1 and it should be a given. There is nothing worse than know it all idiots who do nothing but rub the score in all game. News flash for you buddy, you’re outnumbered. If you’re gonna debate hockey stats, make sure you know your stuff buddy. Make one wrong move and it’s lights out for you.

4. Respect The Home Town Team

I don’t care how much you hate them. I don’t care how intense this “hatred” is. Respect the home team. You’re in their arena; their home. You’d want to be shown the same respect from visiting fans in your rink wouldn’t you? Furthermore, the players on your team are under just as much scrutiny as you are.

Oh…..and don’t be this guy. Goes for both home and away fans.

weareallcanucks02

Sochi 2014: Team Finland

Finland_hockey_logoThe Olympics are not far away so it’s time to brush up on our international hockey teams.Team Finland has not been very strong in their national department of defence on the ice. That being said, their dynamite offensive forwards make up for a lot of that.

Although the roster’s won’t be finalized for a while there are a few players that we can speculate on. Two big names that play in their favour are Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu. The fire power on these two and veteran sense can come a long way in a tournament like the Olympic games. Also, god bless Teemu.

Koivu’s younger brother Mikko and Valtteri Flippula are also two big strong offensive pieces to their puzzle. And then there’s Olli Jokinen….

How to draw Olli Jokinen.
How to draw Olli Jokinen.

Goaltending. You want to talk about depth. The top 3 goaltenders the Fins have are Pekka Rinne, Antti Niemi and hot flavour of the moment Tuukka Rask. My god the Flyers would invade for that kind of lineup.

Timonen.
Timonen.

The defensive line is old and speaking of the Flyers, leading the way is Kimmo Timonen. Along with Sammi Salo, they both provide leadership and veteran qualities to help out young pups like Sami Lepisto.

Finland is apart of the ‘Big 7’ and won bronze in Vancouver but nobody ever seems to remember that. Well, I do and I’m these guys could shock a few people.