Tired of beating the winners
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07-09-2010, 04:56 AM
Join Date: Mar 2010
Originally Posted by
I'd be careful with such statements. It was said some times ago that Sweden was getting older and would experience a drop in quality once the Sundin generation retires and it never happened. Latvia was expected to fall from the face of earth when the soviet era players were growing older but is now arguably better than in the 90's.
Sure, teams' expectations can shift from winning a tourament to hoping to make it to the semis, or from qualifying for the knock out round to avoiding relegation, but I don't think anyone should expect a significant shift in the hockey world order just because a team's core is getting older and prospects are slow to come.
I agree with you that it would be wrong to expect a significant shift in the hockey-world-ranking-order. In fact the hockey-world-ranking is as stable as a fire-hydrant but still there are small tendencies and because I follow the international junior-hockey since 15 years very close I do dare to talk about these small tendencies and they are in my eyes as follows:
1. Canada - 95/100 points
Had some small problems around 10 years ago, when I thought that the Europeans have a slight edge in the skating-department and partly with the hand-skills. It did change. In the last couple of years Canada did come back very strong. A lot of strong power-skaters, every year some guys with really good hand-skills and overall still standing strong for No.1
2. USA - 93/100 points
Biggest improvement in the last couple of years of all hockey-countries. Every year a lot of excellent skaters (powerskating), very dynamic players, passionate players, good skills. The US-junior-program results in the tendency to close the gap to Canada.
3. Sweden - 92/100 points
Biggest improvement lately of all European countries. Unbelievable good basic-educated young players. Skating, hand-skills, physical development, tactical-behaviour. I think Sweden has the best program together with the US-Ann-Arbour. Maybe the teams still lack a tiny little bit positive aggressivity and sometimes grit but still: I'm very impressed.
4. Russia - 89/100 points
Russia did fall a bit in the ranking, not necessarily because they did do really bad - they still have year by year some good talent, I think their slight falling has more to do with the big improvement of the US- and the Swedish-program.
5. Finland - 80/100 points
Finland is besides Canada the only real hockey-country. They still don't produce the skillful players Sweden does but they also start to improve their program and try to follow the Swedish foot-steps.
6. Czech Rep. - 77/100 points
Not so long ago the Czechs were on top in Europe, close together with Russia. Then the Swedish-program did come along, the Russians stayed more or less the same and sadly enough I see a small decline of the Czech program lately.
7. Switzerland - 73/100 points
Compared with other countries we had a very good program 10 years ago but then other countries did take their next step and the Swiss did just stay where they were, not much improvement in the last 10 years. Now there are some signs of small further improvement in the next couple of years, e.g. Swiss hockey-academy.
8. Slovakia - 72/100 points
Similar situation than the Czech Republic but still producing every secons or third year the one or the other very skillful player. Some problems and in the tendency a bit declining but still a hockey-country
9. Germany - 71/100 points
Germany has an underrated program and in some melting-points (Mannheim, Bavaria) they still produce some nice players and they did do even a bit more lately. GER/SWI and SLK are very close.
10. Belarus - 69/100 points
A lot of money in the program and some basically well educated players (skating, handskills) but should try to become more competitive and have more games vs NA-teams what probably would help a bit.
11. Denmark - 68/100 points
Some really good young players lately, thanks to the possibility to move to Swedish programs at a very young age. Good, skillful, enthusiastic and optimistic players, still lack a bit individual tactical and disciplined behaviour sometimes on the ice. Not as good without the puck as the Swiss e.g.
12. Norway - 67/100 points
Norway did improve in the last two years, I'm impressed. They produced the one or the other player and I hope it's not just a fluke. I don't know their program in detail but I read and listen about some indications that this is not just one or two good age-groups, it seems to be a real improvement.
So, these are my spontaneous thoughts at this point in July 2010.
I'm ready to discuss.
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