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foxfang 09-30-2012 04:31 PM

Reasons for a year-round international Hockey calendar? (like Rugby, Soccer, Cricket)
 
The 40th Anniversary of the Summit Series really got me thinking that we don't expose our national team enough to our fans. While we are proud of the NHL, it's clear that the moments that really defined this country were seeing a full-fledged Team Canada win our hearts in 1972, in the Canada Cups and in 2002/2010. Yet, why is it that we can only feel this immense pride and excitement (that only international sports can bring) once month every 4 years?

Every major sport on earth takes advantage of the popularity of international sports, except Hockey for some reason. There's just more on the line. More importantly, these simple year long calendars are actually successful in creating bonds nation-wide, when in the modern age there might be no reason for such a bond to occur.

Examples:

Rugby: The Super 14 league between Australia, New Zealand and South Africa = the cream of the crop in Rugby. There might not be 1 sport on earth where players can get injured this easily, and yet the one thing they look forward to the most is representing their countries in international competition. Year-round, you have:
1. The Rugby Championship (a 4 team, 5 month long round robin between Argentina, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa)
2. The 6 nations: Basically the European Cup. It takes place months appart.
3. Test Matches: Big games between inter-continental rivals (IE: Scotland v. Australia), that occur between the months where there are no big international tournaments.
4. The Rugby World Cup - caps it all off, every 4 years.

Soccer: We know about Soccer's obsession with the international fixture. Even in England, the only football culture that actually prioritizes club football over the national team, puts tremendous focus on the national team, as the country stops every 2 months to watch England play.

Nothing makes a sport more popular than international play. Canada v. USA during the last Olympic final is testament to the idea that this type of play offers the ultimate exposure to the game. I'm not saying that we should have massive international tournaments every year, but at least big Test-Matches between Canada v. USA/Russia/Czechs/Finland/Sweden.

Last night, I saw over 80,000 rabid Argentinians pack up their stadium to cheer their NT on vs. the New Zealand All Blacks. I have never seen Rugby grow as much as it has, and it's all thanks to the International exposure. Believe it or not, but most non-hardcore fans (even in Canada) are indifferent to Hockey unless their specific city's team is doing very very well. I just think that a huge opportunity is being wasted.

We should not be waiting 4 years to see the team that has all but defined Canada. Just as Germany's soccer team has unified the entire nation in 1954/1974/1990, or the other famous soccer nations (Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Uruguay, England, etc). Why don't we push for this as fans?

http://www.hhof.com/graphspot/pin_ratelle01.jpg

cagney 09-30-2012 08:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by foxfang (Post 54679091)
Why don't we push for this as fans?

Because the majority of fans don't want it.

Hockey's base of power is focused on the NHL and like pretty much all sports that are popular in North America, the club level reigns supreme. The majority of North American fans don't want anything interfering with "their" club and the fact is that an expanded international stage would inevitably impact the league.

As a very important corollary, owners of North American franchises tend to view international competition as a threat to their investments. If they can't make a lot of money off it they don't see any value in it. Just look at the way the NHL and NBA are pushing to withdraw "their" players from the Olympics.

I'd love to see more best on best hockey competition though. Heck, they could disband the NHL for all I care if it meant more of it.

foxfang 09-30-2012 08:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cagney (Post 54684749)
Because the majority of fans don't want it.

Hockey's base of power is focused on the NHL and like pretty much all sports that are popular in North America, the club level reigns supreme. The majority of North American fans don't want anything interfering with "their" club and the fact is that an expanded international stage would inevitably impact the league.

As a very important corollary, owners of North American franchises tend to view international competition as a threat to their investments. If they can't make a lot of money off it they don't see any value in it. Just look at the way the NHL and NBA are pushing to withdraw "their" players from the Olympics.

I'd love to see more best on best hockey competition though. Heck, they could disband the NHL for all I care if it meant more of it.

Well thanks for explaining that in detail. What shocks me is the idea that fans don't want it. I can understand the owners not caring for it, but fans? The most hardcore Leafs fan I've ever met told me that the 2010 Olympics was the most exciting and well played hockey he had seen in a decade and was actually depressed when the NHL season re-started.

I'm sure that an extended calendar is not the answer. However, do Canadians really not want special test-matches (at least 2-3 a year) vs. the best of the best? It seems hilariously ironic considering that the most iconic moments in the history of Canadian sports (1972, 1987, 2002, 2010) all had to do with the Team Canada playing.

JackSlater 09-30-2012 09:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by foxfang (Post 54684961)
The most hardcore Leafs fan I've ever met told me that the 2010 Olympics was the most exciting and well played hockey he had seen in a decade and was actually depressed when the NHL season re-started.

Well... he was a Toronto fan...

Quote:

Originally Posted by foxfang (Post 54684961)
I'm sure that an extended calendar is not the answer. However, do Canadians really not want special test-matches (at least 2-3 a year) vs. the best of the best? It seems hilariously ironic considering that the most iconic moments in the history of Canadian sports (1972, 1987, 2002, 2010) all had to do with the Team Canada playing.

I would very much enjoy seeing a full strength team Canada play a few games every year, but the window of opportunity is extremely small for all nations to field their strongest teams for a few games each year. Realistically we're talking about the weeks of summer following the Stanley Cup and before the training camps in Europe, and even then a lot of players are going to be banged up and will still miss out.

The idea of Team Canada (and team USA) is pretty interesting. I find that most European fans view international hockey teams similarly to national teams in soccer, where the teams are constant and players get dropped or added to the teams over time. For team Canada in hockey, I only view it as an entity that comes into existence once every four years. I don't consider anything outside of the Olympics or World Cup to be the national team. Having regular best on best games might go far toward rectifying that.

Xokkeu 09-30-2012 10:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cagney (Post 54684749)
Because the majority of fans don't want it.

Hockey's base of power is focused on the NHL and like pretty much all sports that are popular in North America, the club level reigns supreme. The majority of North American fans don't want anything interfering with "their" club and the fact is that an expanded international stage would inevitably impact the league.

As a very important corollary, owners of North American franchises tend to view international competition as a threat to their investments. If they can't make a lot of money off it they don't see any value in it. Just look at the way the NHL and NBA are pushing to withdraw "their" players from the Olympics.

I'd love to see more best on best hockey competition though. Heck, they could disband the NHL for all I care if it meant more of it.

Unfortunately this is true. North Americans simply aren't conditioned to care as much about international competitions. I don't understand it personally at all but it's the way it is.

zorz 10-01-2012 02:29 AM

this is caused by the greed of NHL owners who were expanding their regular season to the limit which killed all international competition, including Olympics, becaause even Olympics would be much better if the teams had a couple of weeks to train together and play some test games before the tournament. The thing I'm afraid of is that KHL could go the same direction next couple of years and then, hockey would become completely dead sport.

jekoh 10-01-2012 03:02 AM

Well we do have a world championship every year, it's just that one league decides to have its playoffs during said championship.

Even then Canada and the USA usually have a lot of available players decline. I mean by the time the WCh gets underway there are only 4 out of 30 NHL teams still playing, so the WCh rosters for Canada and the USA could be almost identical to the Olympic ones.

Mr Writer 10-01-2012 03:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JackSlater (Post 54686659)
Well... he was a Toronto fan...



I would very much enjoy seeing a full strength team Canada play a few games every year, but the window of opportunity is extremely small for all nations to field their strongest teams for a few games each year. Realistically we're talking about the weeks of summer following the Stanley Cup and before the training camps in Europe, and even then a lot of players are going to be banged up and will still miss out.

The idea of Team Canada (and team USA) is pretty interesting. I find that most European fans view international hockey teams similarly to national teams in soccer, where the teams are constant and players get dropped or added to the teams over time. For team Canada in hockey, I only view it as an entity that comes into existence once every four years. I don't consider anything outside of the Olympics or World Cup to be the national team. Having regular best on best games might go far toward rectifying that.

I would prefer to see the World Cup come back, but failing that, a N.A. Cup tournament every 2 years in between Olympics...is not such a bad idea. Canada and the U.S. could go at it over 3 games or 5 games..whatever format they choose. Hell, the NHL can organize it and any profit could go directly to the league...and if the U.S can pull a victory, maybe it even further grows the game in non-traditional U.S. markets.

but I'm not interested in seeing the setup of European leagues where there are 4 breaks per year in league play to accommodate international tournaments i.e. Eurotour. I have no interest in seeing that in North America.

foxfang 10-01-2012 09:19 AM

Yeah the NHL season is very heavy on the players and some fans. I do think that the All Star game (team who cares vs. team whatever) is absolutely worthless. Ironically Bettman uses it because he thinks it's a great "exhibition" for non-fans. It's ironic because, even in North America, nothing excites the neutrals more than a big international match. Canada v. USA once a year would be huge.

Jussi 10-01-2012 11:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Writer (Post 54690987)
I would prefer to see the World Cup come back, but failing that, a N.A. Cup tournament every 2 years in between Olympics...is not such a bad idea. Canada and the U.S. could go at it over 3 games or 5 games..whatever format they choose. Hell, the NHL can organize it and any profit could go directly to the league...and if the U.S can pull a victory, maybe it even further grows the game in non-traditional U.S. markets.

I don't see any interest in the US media nor fanbase for such an event. Canada just isn't such big thing for the Americans, especially when there's nothing at stake.

Mr Writer 10-01-2012 12:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jussi (Post 54694893)
I don't see any interest in the US media nor fanbase for such an event. Canada just isn't such big thing for the Americans, especially when there's nothing at stake.

Obviously you are going to have to search really hard and dig really deep to find any interest in the U.S. for a non-existent hockey tournament, that's just conjecture at this point.. Why do you think that when the U20 WC is in the U.S. they put it within driving distance of the Canadian border? I was speaking of what would fly in Canada and what would have the interest of the hard core hockey fan in the U.S... and more than anything else, a revived World Cup or a semi-regular Canada-USA series would generate more interest than a European type scenario where Euro leagues have 4 breaks per season to accommodate international games. That sort of scenario would not fly in N.America neither with Canadian or American fans.

Jussi 10-02-2012 07:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Writer (Post 54696319)
Obviously you are going to have to search really hard and dig really deep to find any interest in the U.S. for a non-existent hockey tournament, that's just conjecture at this point.. Why do you think that when the U20 WC is in the U.S. they put it within driving distance of the Canadian border? I was speaking of what would fly in Canada and what would have the interest of the hard core hockey fan in the U.S... and more than anything else, a revived World Cup or a semi-regular Canada-USA series would generate more interest than a European type scenario where Euro leagues have 4 breaks per season to accommodate international games. That sort of scenario would not fly in N.America neither with Canadian or American fans.

Well it's given Canadians would watch their team (but without a real point to it all, not that much) but what's the point of it to Americans? I seriously doubt USA Hockey would want to play games for the benefit of Canadians. I also doubt NHL players would have any interest in these type of games, not to mention the owners.

Mr Writer 10-02-2012 08:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jussi (Post 54713609)
Well it's given Canadians would watch their team (but without a real point to it all, not that much) but what's the point of it to Americans? I seriously doubt USA Hockey would want to play games for the benefit of Canadians. I also doubt NHL players would have any interest in these type of games, not to mention the owners.

The theme of the thread is Reasons for Year Rd. Int. Hockey. or a type of system as it exists in Europe with 4 breaks in league play to accommodate International games i.e. Eurotour. My point was that it would not fly in N. America and the only scenario I see having broader appeal to the greatest amount of hockey fans in N. America are the two which I stated. A revived World Cup or some sort of Canada-USA match-up. Why USA Hockey would be interested? Competition and money... Hockey Tournaments in Canada generate huge profits. Now the NHL can organize it if they wish? If they do not wish, then the NHLPA can organize it it cooperation with Hockey Canada/USA Hockey. If it happens great.. if it doesn't that's great as well... but I am in no way interested whatsoever in breaks to the NHL schedule 4 times per year for more international games, Canada jetting off to Stockholm to play Sweden. No thank you! I'd rather watch Toronto-Montreal.

Xokkeu 10-02-2012 12:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jussi (Post 54713609)
Well it's given Canadians would watch their team (but without a real point to it all, not that much) but what's the point of it to Americans? I seriously doubt USA Hockey would want to play games for the benefit of Canadians. I also doubt NHL players would have any interest in these type of games, not to mention the owners.

What's the point to Americans? We get to watch our team more than two weeks every four years. It'd be awesome and I'd literally urinate in my pants if it happened.

CoolForumNamePending 10-02-2012 10:06 PM

I don't know how much interest I would have in a year round international calendar featuring a bunch of test/friendly matches (or a best of 3, 5 or 7 series) just for the sake of having games and since it will never happen it really doesn't matter anyway.

With that being said the fact that international hockey featuring full strength squads is confined to a single tournament, which is held hostage everytime the NHL/NHLPA CBA expires, that lasts less than two weeks every four years is really unfortunate. The interest that is generated by international hockey (WC in Europe, WJC & WCup in Canada, Olympics everywhere hockey has even a bit of relevance) leads me to believe there is certainly a demand for it and opportunities are being lost.

Mr Kanadensisk 10-03-2012 05:09 AM

I think it would be better if the all-star break was used to play some best vs best international games. For example one year you could have Canada play the US, CZK vs SVK, SWE vs FIN, RUS vs SUI. Each year you could switch up the parings. You could even make them mini 3 game series without having to extend the all-star break significantly. It would mean coordinating the break between the NHL and Euro leagues but that shouldn't be too hard, after all they do it for the Olympics.

In my opinion this would be way more entertaining than the all-star game we have now.

foxfang 10-16-2012 12:00 PM

I absolutely agree. The all-star game is made to generate casual fan interest and yet nothing generates general fan interest more than putting your country's pride on the line for 1 big international match. This is a proven recipe for success.

The all star game just isn't that interesting anymore. As a kid, I remember it being a big deal, but now it's kind of a waste of time.There needs to be serious bragging rights involved. Seeing it done in a "Winter Classic" format would be so huge for the game. Not only here, but worldwide. Have the winner play every year. If the NHL gets anal about it, then they'd have to guarantee that either Canada or USA have to compete each year.

So:
2013: Canada vs. USA
- Canada wins.

2014: Canava vs. Russia
- Russia wins.

2015: Russia vs. USA (then invite the other hockey nations: Finland, Czechs, Sweden, etc)

Thesensation19 10-18-2012 01:40 PM

Its tough to have international tournaments with the NHL being such a powerhouse in the world and taking up most of the years schedule.


Rumors have it that the World Cup of Hockey would be brought back and this time planned to be every four years, rotating every two years with the Olympics. The NHL would be more keen on doing this because they can always host games and market it only for them and their players.

I would love to see that, woudlnt we all?

Xokkeu 10-18-2012 09:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Thesensation19 (Post 55087041)
Its tough to have international tournaments with the NHL being such a powerhouse in the world and taking up most of the years schedule.


Rumors have it that the World Cup of Hockey would be brought back and this time planned to be every four years, rotating every two years with the Olympics. The NHL would be more keen on doing this because they can always host games and market it only for them and their players.

I would love to see that, woudlnt we all?

Yes International hockey really needs this.

Put the World Cup in place of the all star break and you get meaningful corporate smoozing!


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