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12-11-2012, 01:30 PM
Can't Play Defence
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Originally Posted by Fulcrum View Post
I just think if we look historically, Canada has 'owned' hockey. They created it and they developed it. That's the history.

But then came the Soviet Union that was very advanced in Olympic sports and took it very very seriously, Canada wasn't anywhere near developed at most sports at the time. Soviet Union applied it's science of training, vast knowledge of preparation, brought it up to a higher standard and instantly raised the plank for professionalism. Tarasov and co. also applied a wealth of soccer and bandy knowledge to the game and that is where a lot of combination game came from.

Without NHL and in VERY short time they were able to produce world class players that could rival NHL players, who had a very long history. The Soviet combination hockey was vastly revolutionary for it's time and you can remember Esposito saying "these guys are better than us and lets face facts". He also commented how they couldn't get the puck from them with all the passing and had to play dirty to keep up.

The Soviets had to learn a lot too, when it came to more physical aspects of the game, and playing with more emotion. And with years the countries learnt from each other.

And like I said before, Canada is the premium nation at producting talent right now, but it wasn't Always like that and there is certainly no guarantee it will remain that way. Now there are more countries investing in the sport and challenging Canada, and there could be many changes in the future on who hold the #1 spot.

That is why historically these 2 nations are extremely different in their Hockey roots, but both have put in tremendous amount of resources into the sport.
There's nothing really to disagree with here, except for a bit of clarity around "#1" and what it means.

The issue in this thread is that everyone is arguing something different.

1. Does #1 mean "The country that can put together the best single squad of players at any given time?"

In which case, in terms of on-ice comparisons, this can be measured through tournament play, head to head match-ups, what have you. On paper, you can try to evaluate the relative skill level and strengths of the players but I always find that to be a wasted exercise because hockey isn't as easily statistically assessed on an individual basis in the the way a sport like baseball is. It's a team game.

Personally, I feel like the Olympics are the only way to measure this to some degree of conclusiveness, given the options available.

2. Does #1 mean "The country that produces the best players in the world?"

This is a different question, because now you're looking at quantity as well as quality. How many players? Does depth count? Or just high-end talent?

Now you've got tournaments like the WJC coming into play, because you're looking at player development. A team like the Czechs who have been playing many of the same guys for over a decade now doesn't necessarily show up particularly well here lately, even if they are still competitive at the senor level. On paper, people use "NHL draft picks" but this is a terrible measure in my mind, especially since the KHL emerged and factors beyond player skill are evaluated in terms of what an NHL team is drafting for.

I'm not really sure how to measure this, although the WJC is a proxy of sorts in that you can see which teams are competitive over time. However, a team like Sweden with one really talented group in one or two tournaments can have a large impact on the generation as a whole, while a team like Canada which is routinely competitive and seems to spit out a handful of elite players every year while the others either become journeymen or fail to make the NHL on a regular basis. It also benefits the "larger" hockey nations which mitigate peaks and valleys in talent with sheer numbers.

Things get confused around here when people start throwing in all kinds of criteria into what "#1" means. You've got chest-thumpers around here who talk about "It's our game" or "It's our history" but they aren't really adding much of value to the discussion, in that it's not something that can be objectively measured.

The only way being #1 means anything is if it can be taken away from you.

I think some Canadians in this thread don't really understand that concept.

I will say again: IMO, whoever wins the Olympics is #1. If the Russians win in 2016, good for them. Be gracious losers, Canada. We won on our home turf, let's see if they can do the same.

Originally Posted by Jonimaus
Oh and if Sweden, USA, Finland, whatever wins in 2014, they will obviously also be number 1 for 4 years.
Agreed. Sweden had their run, and it was well-deserved. I don't think anyone can begrudge that line-up being the best in the world at that time.

Last edited by NyQuil: 12-11-2012 at 01:36 PM.
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