The World Cup and its Importance to Hockey!

Has the word cup lost its luster from the Canada Cup days? Yes. Has the World Cup lost its luster from the last one eight years ago? Yes. Is its popularity loss directly attributed to the current woes of the NHL today? Yes. Has it lost its importance and excitement of play? No. Watch the World Cup because it will be a long winter without hockey unless something drastically changes in the CBA talks. You will see great hockey, great talent and great excitement. This is a coordinated event with NHL and the NHLPA on and international stage. Both sides are showcasing that the world’s best hockey players play in the NHL. This was probably the last thing they agreed on and they are getting no where fast with the current CBA talks. The NHLPA wants to make sure their players get a steady increase of pay over time and the NHL wants to cap it off without hurting the sports popularity even more.

With that in mind, you can see how this event is directly connected to the politics of the current CBA crisis. High profile unrestricted free agents Peter Bondra, Alex Kovalev, Pavol Demitra and Teemu Selanne might be thinking that their play at the World Cup will directly influence the type of contract they will receive in the new CBA. You know that every NHL, WHA, and European team who is interested in these players will be looking at this tournament very closely.

Another twist to the tournament is that the NHL and NHLPA have been considering missing the 2006 Turin Olympic games and come back for Vancouver 2010. They cannot commit on the administrative headaches of stopping the league for 2 weeks for the Olympics if they do not have a CBA in place. This means that this will most likely be the last time you see players born in the 60’s such as Lemieux, Chelios, Leetch, Hull, Bondra, Federov, Numminen play in a major international tournament.

Politics aside, here is a brief synopsis of how the teams will finish and why:


The loss of the major cornerstones Blake and Pronger will hurt the power play but the competent replacements in Boumeester and Hannan will still make it the best defense in the tourney. The changing of the guard has started to happen when you think of Iginla, Heatley, Brad Richards are in the top 5 Canadian forwards. Martin Brodeur with Loungo and Theodore really does not make the loss of Belfour traumatic news.

2. Finland

They can definitely be considered the dark horse. With the smooth skating and playmaking abilities of forwards Koivu, Jokinen, Selanne, Nieminen, combined with the hard hitting Ruutu, they will be hard to contain. A solid skating defense including Niinimaa, Numminen, S. Salo, with Kiprusoff in goal will make it difficult for other teams to sustain a prolonged attack.

3. USA

Not as strong of a team as in Salt Lake City but a solid changing of the guard in net with a lot of veteran skaters still makes them a lock for a medal. This is the coming out party for Robert Esche, Ty Conklin and Rick Dipietro. They are all competent young goalies that have something to prove on the international stage.

4. Sweden

T. Salo is just not a good enough goalie but he has an excellent team in front of him. If he plays well then they are legitimate gold medal contenders. Forsberg, Sundin, Naslund, Alfredson, Lindstrom, Ohlund and many more headline a very strong skating team.

5. Czech Republic

Net out they are a strong team but the talent depth is mediocre. Vokoun is a solid starting goalie. He will have some help with Fischer, Hamerlik, and up front with Elias, Jagr, Rucinsky, Straka and Sykora. The death to coach Hlinka cannot be great for morale.

6. Slovakia

The best team Slovakia has ever had and if ….uhhh…Budaj or Stana…..plays well, then they can be a medal contender. Chara, Bondra, Demtra, Zednik, Hossa, Gaborik, Palffy, Satan will give them a killer power play.

7. Russia

Poor poor Russia. This has to be the worst Russian team on paper ever seen. There is a lot of strife with the players and management. Ilya Bryzgalov will be the starting goaltender as it stands it’s obviously a huge weakness. While they do have some very talented players with Kovelev, Federov, Kovalchuk, Yashin, Gonchar, Zhitnik, and Ovechkin, its not the same Russia we are used to seeing when this team could be so much better with Habibulin and others.

8. Germany

They have Kolzig Hecht, Sturm, and they will line them all up along the blue line to create the ever popular German Blue line wall that will keep it low scoring but not in their favor.

Fans, NHL, and the NHLPA will all enjoy this World cup. After it is all done, there will be empty boardrooms briefly filled with arguments of cost certainty. The NHL has a war chest to sustain financial stability and the owners will still be rich. The players will play in other leagues for less money but still will be rich. We the fans who pays the high priced tickets that the owners makes us pay to cover the insane contracts that they gave to the players to begin with are once again the victims. Try and forget about the CBA greed and enjoy some great hockey because we deserve it and much

10 Responses to The World Cup and its Importance to Hockey!

  1. cgolding says:

    if the NHL and the NHLPA wisen up and get the idea that their labor agreement is absolutely killing their ability to gain some momentum out of world cup into the season, it could be a good thing… though as has been proven, the previous world cup, as well as the last olympics, did not do a whole lot to ramp up interest here in the US. however, they still have to try right?

    the simple fact that americans DO tend to watch US teams play should end up getting some good ratings here, but those numbers probably won’t translate from the world cup to the NHL, and they definitely won’t if there is a lockout following.

    my buddy just got the Flyers tix for the year… TWO live Ilya shows in the package, god he’s fun to watch live. get to see the Leafs make their late season trek from the north down here, that should be fun as well… i’m always hopeful that another yahoo is going to jump in the box with Domi, adds another element to the game.

    nevermind the bullox,


  2. NYRebuild27 says:

    Federov has pulled out for Russia, stating that he is also suffering from injuries (seems to be a trend as of late, no?)… but your right there, one of the worst Russian teams in recent years, noting that it could be a whole lot better.

    Also, i dont think Tommi Salo will start over Henrik Lundqvist, not after the performance he put up in the worlds taking Sweden to the final.

    i also agree with some of the marquee free agents looking to play exceptionally well in hopes of having it influence a potentially hefty NHL contract.

  3. NYRebuild27 says:

    Federov has pulled out for Russia, stating that he is also suffering from injuries (seems to be a trend as of late, no?)… but your right there, one of the worst Russian teams in recent years, noting that it could be a whole lot better.

    Also, i dont think Tommi Salo will start over Henrik Lundqvist, not after the performance he put up in the worlds taking Sweden to the final.

    i also agree with some of the marquee free agents looking to play exceptionally well in hopes of having it influence a potentially hefty NHL contract.

  4. Furlong19 says:

    I’m anxious for this tournament just to see the players compete. But this tournament is nowhere near as big as the olympics. The olympics have more tradition and patriotism and less politics and scrutiny than the World Cup. In all honesty, I won’t be too upset if Canada loses. It’s not the same as the olympics to me. Also, having this tournament played right after the olympics takes a lot of the interest away from fans. Not to mention that they have a yearly World Championship tournament, that very much resembles this tournament, except with fewer countries competing. IF you ask me, I wouldn’t care if this was the last World Cup ever. It just doesn’t have the tradition behind it. I just hope to christ that they continue to allow the NHLer’s compete at the olympics.

  5. Minky says:

    In my opinion, Canada has the best team on paper. It would be like the ultimate team if we hade Blake and Pronger, and no Brewer

  6. 7thWoman says:

    I am SO hoping that this event generates interest & media attention in the US. I’m also hoping that the pre-tournament exhibition in Ohio generates at least SOME USA support. American Hockey fans are becoming more and more apathetic by the day. If there is no headway made tomorrow, 8/17, I fear the number of American Hockey fans will dwindle down to those comparable to….oh, I don’t know….maybe Professional CHESS. I’m dragging my entire family on the 500 mile trek to Columbus to show that at least some of us care and want a 2004-05 season.

  7. DarkPhoenix says:

    “T. Salo is just not a good enough goalie”

    I’d bet on Tellqvist starting, because Salo is still looking shaky and Tellqvist has more international playing experience than Lundqvist right now.

  8. ranger_fan says:

    Yeah, sweden won’t go with Salo or Tellqvist, but rather Ranger blue chip Hendrik Lundvist. The kid is amazing, and if he carries the Swedes, NY will deal him because of Blackburn and Montoya in the system

  9. DarkPhoenix says:

    Tellqvist has more international experience. Sweden would have went with him in the World Championship over Lundqvist, except Toronto was still in the playoffs at that time, so he was off-limits.

  10. rojoke says:

    The problem the Russian team is facing is not on the ice. It’s purely politics. The Russian Federation originally selected former national team dictator – uh, I mean coach – Viktor Tikhonov to head the team. That seemed a little odd, seeing that the Russian Sports ministry is headed up by former star and avid anti-Tikhonov campaigner Vyacheslav Fetisov. Then the Professor Igor Larionov, part of the team’s management, came out and said that he wanted former NJ/LA coach Larry Robinson to coach the squad, which was quickly and quietly dismissed. As far as I know, Bird never even got a invitation, formal or informal. From many reports from players who have declined to play in the tourney, they say it’s not because they don’t want to play for Russia anymore, or play in the tourney. They just feel that the Russian hockey federation is too disorganized and too political for them. Maybe it even has to do with the Russian federation’s recent stance regarding tranfer payments for draftees after this recent draft. Dynamo, who has Alexander Ovechkin under contract for one more year, announced that it would cost the Capitals $2 million for them to allow him to play in the NHL in 2004-05. Maybe the current NHL players see the clubs trying to hold younger players for ransom, just like it was under the old Red Army system. Regardless, as was said in the original post, “Poor poor Russia.”

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