Has Russia overtaken the #1 spot in World Hockey?
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11-29-2012, 11:30 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Originally Posted by
If you follow soccer you can find multiple stories of players failing to adjust to different cultures or climates. Many South Americans struggle with the English weather, food whatever and want to leave and go to Spain where the culture and climate is similar. Karim Benzema for example showed up at Real Madrid and was given no support, simply given a shirt and told to show up and play. I've been told similar stories of a Brazilian in Manchester who was never given language lessons, no help for his wife, who didn't speak English, no help finding his kids a school, no help with grocery shopping figuring out where to find familiar foods or how to figure out the local culture. Now would you think that with your wife moaning about the weather, struggling and upset about the kids and every day you are coming home to problems and misery with no support, you don't think that will affect your ability to perform on the field? Conversely Lyon has successfully integrated South American players because they provide extensive off field support. They hire relocation advisors, common in the corporate world. When their new Brazilian signing shows up he is given a personal translator, language classes set up, a school is found for the kids, a local group of Brazilians (or whoever) is found for the wife to make friends and find support. Off field matters are taken care of so that the player can focus on playing.
Now in hockey I'm less familiar with the background works, but I know that there is a reason a young Evgeni Malkin was housed in Sergei Gonchar's house. (Just like Sidney Crosby lived with Mario, and other young players often do the same, but I would argue that it's more important for foreign players.) Not every person is the same. Some players don't mind the culture shock, they can concentrate on the game better than others. Some are affected by it. Now I think NHL teams are a bit better than most European soccer clubs at taking care of their players, but it is a factor for Russian and European players.
Conversely I know of several Canadian players who have struggled mightily in Russia both during this lockout and others.
I think it is very hard to quantify, some it may help, some it may hurt, hard to say what the average impact is.
Socially speaking I would say that language is the biggest hurdle, followed by culture, with things like climate (at least for hockey players) and food being much less significant. The difference in language and culture between french Quebec and english North America is similar to that between Europe and North America and I don't ever recall this being an issue in terms of player performance for French Canadians. Likewise a lot of anglophones from Atlantic Canada, such as Crosby, have to play junior hockey in Quebec and again I'm not aware of this being a major (or even minor) issue.
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