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Thoughts on Sweden during recent WC's

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05-01-2009, 12:08 PM
  #1
Ribban
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Thoughts on Sweden during recent WC's

I obviously open my breadbox on more than wide about any given topic, and I doubt that my points about BÅG's ways of picking his teams are unknown. However, given that we live in a real world where money, politics, and media management determine success more than winning or losing on the ice, I think Tre Kronor isn't batteling for gold as much as survival these days. Crazy talk? It wouldn't be the first time I made someone think that...

Every NHL player costs the federation a small fortune to bring "home," some more than others depending on the contract. Financial times are, shall we say, a bit harsh, and the big prize that we all really care about is not this year but next year. Even if they brought over, or could have brought over, Lundqvist, Murray, Hävelid, etc. would that be enough to win a Gold medal? Would a Gold medal cover the cost of the WCH then, or would it mean a financial disaster for the federation? I know in 2006 when they doubled the golds, the big talking point was that the federation was scratching their heads on how to afford the second victory party/reception. Did they really lose money?!? The papers said so.

But I think we are making ridiculous excuses if we blame last year's events, global as well as domestic, for where we are today.

Without having seen the books of the federation, it is my understanding that the wheels are coming off the waggon financially, and they have been for a while. Tre Kronor is hurting. The important "fund raisers" during the year, which we refer to as Euro Hockey League, is lacking in importance to most fans, if not ridiculed, and the "strong elit clubs," holding the contracts of the better players, are not interested in supporting Tre Kronor's cause, making the label of Tre Kronor even cheaper. BÅG and Näslund aren't doing the NT any favors either by treating it as an invitational stick time, structured try-out, through the year. But, if they stuck to a core, the clubs would flip out even worse than they already do and say that their star players are under more wear and tear than the competition, and prevent the player from going, or put off-the-record pressure on the player to goat him. It's not a one sided problem.

I really don't care what they say to the media anymore, and more often than not they are misquoted or taken out of context to create headlines. 2 consecutive wins = GOLD CROWNS and two consecutive losses = FIASKO. However, actions do seem to tell the story. You have some quality players, willing to come and play, and you have a need for them (let's just agree on that injuries have been a factor to avoid lengthy arguments of style of play), but BÅG is not calling them. Before bringing over Odyua, they ran the numbers on his contract, insurance, etc. to see if they were interested.. In other words, they aren't putting together the best team. They are putting together the team they can afford for the year. Makes sense. Can't fault them for that. This isn't a video game. You have to live within your means.

Bottom line, if you don't care or nuture something, guess what happens? Tre kronor is only important to us during the World Championships and the Olympics. Sweden and its management is then supposed to show the world how good of a hockey nation "WE" are... but in between, we're not willing to fold club before country. However, the clubs flop worse than Tre Kronor when they get a chance to play internationally, and then they blame not being prepared or motivated!?!? The "we're-so-good-that-we-didn't-try-our-best-to-win-which-is-why-we-lost" argument belongs in the sandbox and is an embarrasment to hear from our, so called, elite clubs. Win or shut up, and under no circumstances blame your own preparations or show off your lack of professional attitude. Talk about creating a chump label for yourself. I'm excited to see these clubs leave Swedish hockey. I really hope they're gone.

The wet dream of our GMs and hardcore fans of creating a mini NHL or be part of the NHL is just that, a wet dream. The model works in Canada because of the population and hockey's histology there. It also works for Hockey Canada becasue they have the depth to ice at least five different teams that would be extremely competetive in any given international tournament. Hockey is king in that country. There is no second. In the summer there is LaCrosse, but hockey is cared for, nurtured, and loved as a game... not just the elite clubs. Those of you who have spent some time in Canada know what I'm talking about.

Hockey will never be the same in Sweden as it is in Canada, no matter how badly someone wants it to be or says it could be. Sweden is a smaller country and the competition between sports for talent, sponsors, and media is far more prevelant in Sweden than it is in Canada.

Thomas Brolin said it well after Sweden's success in the U.S. "Sweden is too small to have a great team every year." The internal bickering, greed, and stubborness within Swedish hockey is making Hockey Sweden even smaller. Nobody expects this team (WCH 2009) to go any further than to a semi, and if they do that, they've done well according to the critics. I don't think that is a coincidence. They know media must be managed just as much as anything else. Reaching the qtr's clears Tre Kronor from the media whip and the people's scorn while it allows them to get by another year on a trimmed budget, and hope for a brighter day next year. An appearnace in the semi's is just an added bonus.

My only question is, for how long will we be able to go on like this? The broad masses are interested in their National Team, and it's coming apart more and more.

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05-01-2009, 06:06 PM
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Impressive amount of text there Ribban. And you didn't even mention Örebro.., are you ok?

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05-01-2009, 10:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snauen View Post
Impressive amount of text there Ribban. And you didn't even mention Örebro.., are you ok?
I think that was my evil twin... but now you did it for me!

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05-03-2009, 10:28 AM
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Interesting post . . . but I fear you give us too much credit here in Canada. Yes we nurture the game and it is a large part of our national identity but we have similar problems. Canadian teams - Jets, Nordiques - have folded and moved south to the US. Lots of teams here in the NHL are in financial trouble. In short I could have written the same rant as well but I could also have chosen baseball, basketball, track or a dozen other sports and painted the US as a shining example.

Ahhh, the US - both our bane and benefactor. The NHL is big because the US is right beside us but because the NHL is so big, we have started triple AAA competitive hockey for 6 year olds. I have a friend whose five-year old boy is traveling from the middle of Ontario to a tournament in Chicago to showcase the best Tyke hockey players in North America. Read that last sentence again and see if hockey success is worth the sacrifice my country seems willing to make. You see why I spend so much time sniffing around other countries looking for insights into the game?

Besides I am a life-long Toronto Maple Leaf fan, the organization that has taught us to pray "The Cup if necessary but not necessarily the Cup". Enh - you get used to going out in the first round of the playoffs every year . . .

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05-05-2009, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by buddhahat View Post
Interesting post . . . but I fear you give us too much credit here in Canada. Yes we nurture the game and it is a large part of our national identity but we have similar problems. Canadian teams - Jets, Nordiques - have folded and moved south to the US. Lots of teams here in the NHL are in financial trouble. In short I could have written the same rant as well but I could also have chosen baseball, basketball, track or a dozen other sports and painted the US as a shining example.

Ahhh, the US - both our bane and benefactor. The NHL is big because the US is right beside us but because the NHL is so big, we have started triple AAA competitive hockey for 6 year olds. I have a friend whose five-year old boy is traveling from the middle of Ontario to a tournament in Chicago to showcase the best Tyke hockey players in North America. Read that last sentence again and see if hockey success is worth the sacrifice my country seems willing to make. You see why I spend so much time sniffing around other countries looking for insights into the game?

Besides I am a life-long Toronto Maple Leaf fan, the organization that has taught us to pray "The Cup if necessary but not necessarily the Cup". Enh - you get used to going out in the first round of the playoffs every year . . .
OK, I added this top paragraph after I wrote the novel below, only to say that I am fully aware of this being JMHO. I truly appreciate your opinion and position, and I got carried away becasue I enjoyed jogging my thoughts on the topic.

I currently live in the States and have been involved with hockey for more years here than I like to think of. I get out of my little hole every so often, and I usually head for B.C., but an occasional trip to Alberta has been logged as well.

The difference between Sweden and Canada is that you guys are crazy.

I mean that in the nicest sence.

Seriously, three quarters of the Canadian population would go into terminal convulsions if hockey ended. A handful of ICBMs going off around the nation wouldn't be more devestating to life as we know it in Oh Canada!! Montreal would be useless.

You guys watch anything on ice, not only the NHL. I'm talking about the 24/7 spin on several channels with NHL as the flagship, but also minor league, youth hockey, womens' hockey, pre-kindergarden allstars, CURLING! If it's on ice with some sort of stick, it's well worth following in Canada. Do you disagree?

I have literally seen grown men shed tears, not becasue their teams got knocked out in the play-offs but becasue the SEASON ENDED!!!! ... and these poor babaies are now going to have to sit in the sun next to a baseball diamond longing for these idiotic summer months to come to and end, so they once again can see the flower of hockey come to life in the dark, cold, snowy mornings of winter.

Remove Team Canada, news and international competition/updates, it would take at least 15 years before someone up there would reflect over a Saturday night beer that it's been a while since we played the Russians . Hockey is not defined by Team Canada in Canada. Certainly if you told them that TC lost in the WCH , people would grieve like one does when learning that the nice old lady, who was already old when you were in highschool, now is dead. But, the grief would be short as the broadcast would be right back on after the Molsen commercial with more from Barnaby's bantam spring hockey camp and the upcoming WHL draft.

In Sweden, we are not able to match this lunacy, at least not in hockey. Whereas a fair share of Swedes sort of enjoy the sport, the majority only watches when Tre Kronor plays in the WCHs or the Olympics. Without doubt, Canada has "normal" people as well, but Sweden simply doesn't have the population of Canada, nor do we have the same percentage of puckheads, to support the sport without a successful national team. This is true not only in Sweden, but also in other European countries... Look at Slovakia for example. They too are pretty sane!

In the smaller countries of Europe, the national teams are the engines pulling the trains, whereas in Canada, the national team is a result of Canadian Hockey. Just look at the debates about "Best Hockey Nation" that go down on these boards from time to time. A Canadian, or North American, is almost always going to define "The Best Nation" as a compound of all ages and genders, whereas most Euros point to whomever won the Senior Men's Gold Medal in any given tournament. This is true not only in hockey but any sport... look at soccer for example. Mention that the U.S. is a top nation in soccer, and people think you would have been better off keeping quiet and have them think you were an idiot but to speak and remove all doubt. However, the truth is that the U.S. have been very successful in the womens program, and why is that any less worth than Spain's successes on only the mens side?

Who's right, who's wrong? Doesn't matter, but it does tell you the importance of the national team to the hockey program in the smaller countries. If the national team in hockey flops, it's all about soccer, team handball, or whatever team is challenging for gold. Fair weather fans!

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Old
05-06-2009, 10:40 AM
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Ahhh, I get it, point taken. Perhaps our attitude toward soccer/football would be a better match. Even then we tend to follow our pros more than our national team. Thanks, always good to get an eye-opening

Cheers.

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