Thread: Norway: State of norwegian hockey
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01-07-2011, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by IslesNorway View Post
With players like Holøs and Zuccarello doing well in the NHL and getting a fair bit of press, the sport may indeed gain a bit more interest from the average guy in the street.

In Norway, hockey's main problem is that it has a somewhat bad reputation. It is regarded as a sport for bullies and macho-men and Joe Public doesn't really get the point of it. And until that reputation is sorted out things will never improve considerably.

Secondly, the is such a lack of rinks in this country that the sport will never be big. There isn't a single rink north of Trondheim (look at the map...!) and the sport is only popular is a few local regions not nationwide.

The progress in recent years of prospects and players is very nice to see, but in the end there is a limit to how far it'll go.

There are two arenas north of Trondheim, Tromsø opened in October and Narvik opened now in January. After about 25-30 years of nothing things are finally starting to happen. In the last couple of years new arenas have opened in Haugesund, Moss, Bergen, Nærbø and Skien. All new markets for hockey exept for Bergen. They have also started to build a new rink in Kristiansand. Building permits have also been approwed for new arenas in Bærum, Oslo, Jessheim and Stavanger.

Imo hockeys problem in Norway is not the "bully" image but the amateur image. The Norwegian public will not embrace Hockey untill hockey is percieved as a serious sport. We have a semi-pro top-league where 8 out of 10 teams play in cold, worn-down arenas with poor facilities. This does not generate intrest from "Joe Public" wich again hurts recruiting because people have to be really in to hockey to be willing to make the sacrice it is to have your kid play. It`s one of the most expensive sports out there, probably the most expensive team-sport. Its not only hockey-gear, its traveling to away games, insurance license, club-fees etc.. Even tough Norwegian hockey-players (most of them atleast) are serious athletes who train hard and devote themselves to their sport, they are perceived as amateurs because the sport has an amateur stamp on it. Imo this is Elitehockey, the organisation of the elite-clubs in Norways job to do something with. An image can be changed thats what you have skilled PR-conultants for, not former players and other people who have always been there and always will due to contacts and family ties.

With that being said I think our development system have made huge strides the latest years. We now have 3 homegrown players on NHL contracts. All of them have been developed trough the Norwegian junior-system. Our u-18s and u-20s are both playing in the A-group. Our u-20s went down and so will probably our u-18s but still. To be able to compete with the likes of Czech Rep, Slovakia and beating Germany is not to bad considering our small talent-pool. The fact that we are now a top-10 nation is nothing short of a major accompishment considering that we in in 2004 were ranked as nr 21 in the world far behind countries like Italy and France. The Norwegian hockey-academies are actually really good.

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