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12-06-2012, 11:29 PM
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It really depends on what you base the rivalry on.

I know European posters won't like this, as this may be an ethnocentric North American viewpoint, but I really don't count the World Hockey Championships as rivalry building. Due to the timing of going head to head with the NHL playoffs, it is a secondary tournament that is barely watched or covered in NA. So many of the best players aren't there that it isn't a true best on best. It is nowhere near the importance of the Olympics.

My favorite international hockey is the WJC, so if I was basing it on that, there would be zero question that Russia and Canada are the big rivals. You only have to look at the medal table.

However, given that the squads are generally only 19 & 18 year olds, it is natural that the two deepest nations are rivals. And basing the rivalry on only two years of any age group isn't giving you a fair assessment of what a full national men's team can do.

So to me, it is all about best on best when all players are available to play. That means Olympics and World Cup/Canada Cup tournaments. With those Olympics, anything pre-NHL involvement doesn't count for me either. Again...not best on best. Russia and Canada are still the two teams that are generally chosen as favorites in those tournaments, so the rivalry is still number one. I can see how some might say USA now. 96 World Cup and 02 & 10 Olympics head to head in the finals will do that.

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