VANCOUVER – A few final thoughts from one of the most memorable hockey tournaments ever:
• The International Ice Hockey Federation must consider going to the NHL-sized ice dimensions of 200-by-85 feet. If there was ever any doubt which of the two sizes – the international dimensions are 200-by-100 – is more entertaining, they were put to rest by this tournament.
During the Olympics, the IIHF circulated a survey among coaches, players and media asking for feelings about the size of the rink, which means it is on the radar for the international body. All the elite leagues in Europe want to go to the NHL sized rink and the fact that a decade ago the IIHF wouldn’t have even considered playing an Olympic tournament on an NHL ice surface means it might be coming around. And since construction of the rink in Sochi hasn’t even commenced yet, there is time for the IIHF to make the change.
• If women’s hockey is going to remain part of the Olympics, the two countries that have the biggest stake in the game are going to have to step in and help develop it around the world.
That means that all the money Canadian Hockey and USA Hockey spend on staying ahead in the arms race between each other has to be directed to helping improve the quality of the game in Europe. That means they should be the ones spending money on things such as better coaching, bringing players to North America to play in the National Women’s Hockey League and to send players to Europe to play in their leagues.
And they must do so knowing full well that, if it works, they will be planting the seeds for other countries to beat them in the future. But isn’t losing once in a while better than losing the Olympics entirely?
• Canada spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the Own the Podium program and it worked. Canada did own the podium with 14 gold medals, the most in the Olympics.
USA and Germany finished ahead in the medal count, but that simply means they had more close losers than Canada. How a third-place finish can be valued the same as a first in the medal count boggles the mind.
But if you assign a gold medal a value of 10, a silver five and a bronze three, the standings come out this way: 1. USA, 204; 2. Canada, 190; 3. Germany, 186.
• The Own the Podium program was so out of character for Canada, as Canadian GM Steve Yzerman noted after his team won the gold medal.
“I was actually a little surprised at Own the Podium because that’s not our way,” Yzerman said. “I wasn’t really sure that would be a good thing. These Olympics have been an incredible success…but we’ve always been humble and we’ve always been gracious and let’s keep it that way. Let’s not get cocky, let’s not get overconfident.”
• Jack Johnson and Pavol Demitra are better players in international hockey than they are in the NHL.
• Vancouver is the best running/jogging city on this planet.
• I love what Slovakia did in this tournament finishing fourth, but I worry about the hockey future in that country. There is a dearth of elite players coming out of that country and I’m told that within five years, Slovakia could be life-and-death to remain in the top division.
Ken Campbell is in Vancouver covering the Olympic hockey tournaments for THN.com. Read his other reports HERE.
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