One thing I've never liked about international hockey tournaments is that you win for gold and bronze, and lose for silver. It's sad to see the silver medalists dejected, and the bronze medalists celebrating (hell, the Finns took a team photo!)
What I propose is that what is currently the bronze medal game be used to determine rankings for two additional games to be added - the silver medal game and the bronze medal game.
The silver medal game would pit the loser of the gold medal game against the winner of what is currently the bronze medal game (for the Olympics, it'd've been USA vs. Finland)
The bronze medal game would pit the loser of the silver medal game against the loser of what is now the bronze medal game (for the Olympics this would have been the loser of USA/Finland vs. Slovakia.
Obviously it would take some re-jigging of the entire tournament to squeeze in these extra games, and I don't particularly like how the fourth-ranked team only plays one extra game while the second- and third-ranked teams play two, but I definitely like the idea of winning for each madal.
Logistically how would the organizers squeeze in an extra game(s). Especially when the gold medal game in Men's Ice Hockey is supposedly the premiere event held on the last day of the games. Never mind the fact that numerous Olympic events are held under the same format - loser of the gold medal match receives silver, and the organizers would then have to re-schedule an extra game for all those events.
I guess what I am trying to say is that the current format is fine.
50% of the time (probably not a perfect stat but, you get it) the silver medalist already beat the Bronze medalists the game before. I understand the sentiment but it's better to end a tournament with the Gold/Silver being handed out, not the Silver/Bronze.
I was thinking about this the other day, what I was thinking was take the teams that are seeded 1-8 by the IIHF (doesn't need to be the seeding, can be a pre Olympic tournament to get into the Olympics) and do a playoff type format. The difference for the Olympics and the Stanley cup finals would be that in the Olympics, they would play 3 games instead of 7. So a 3 game series. For example:
6. Czech Rep.
First round: Canada/Swiss, Russia/Slovakia, Finland/Czech Rep., Sweden/USA
Second Round: Canada/Slovakia, Finland/USA
Bronza Medal Round: Slovakia/Finland
Gold Medal Round: Canada/USA
Gold Medal Winner: Canada
Silver Medal Winner: USA
Bronze Medal Winner: Finland
4 series in the first round, 2 in the second and 2 in the third. Total of 8 series of 3 games each over a 2 week period. The most a team can play is 9 games, the least is two.
The change I would like to see is a change to the group structure.
If they are going to stick with a 12-team format, they should have two Groups of 6, and then each team could play a 5-game round-robin to determine places 1-6 in each group. From there, the top 4 in each pool would move on to the quarterfinals, and play crossover games against the other group (1 vs. 4, 2 vs. 3).
That way you wouldn't get that weird qualification round and subsequent goofy bracket.
I guess a counter-argument is it's anti-climatic. The gold medal game is the last game of the tournament. With this format, the silver medalists would still have to play a last game after the gold medal is awarded.
Also let's say they did try this wouldn't they need to do the same thing at the World Hockey Championships and the World Juniors? Those are both IIHF events and it would look stupid having different rules for the Olympics.