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Boxers, Skaters, Gymnists, Runners, Volleyball...

Nope. They all have sponsorship deals from various companies - essentially, they get money that funds their athletic endeavours. This would disqualify them in the same way that Thorpe was disqualified.

Kind of hypocritical there don't you think? On the one hand you're saying that you don't care about the Habs winning a 25th stanley cup, you just want to see the player represent your country in a 2 week tournament. Then you go and say if North America says no to Nhl players at the olympics (something they only started in 1998), that they are the ones who would be seen as selfish?

Isn't wanting a player to play for your country, while being paid by the Montreal Canadiens and the fans who pay for tickets etc, considered being selfish? As a fan of the Montreal Canadiens I'd rather see a player stick around use the 2 weeks to rest up/practice and get ready to make a push to the playoffs and win cup 25, if they were allowed to go to the Olympics that is.

Like I said I understand why a player would want to go play for his country. But, as a fan of the Montreal Canadiens, I want the players on my team to be focussed on winning the cup. Playing a hectic schedule leading up to the Olympics, then a crazy 2 week tournament and coming back isn't necessary in my opinion. If the tournament survived from 1920 to 1998 without Nhl players, I'm sure it can survive today lol. I'm just saying it shouldn't be seen as "selfish" if the Nhl decides no. If I'm the Molsons and I'm cutting Mr. Plekanec cheques worth 5Million dollars a year, if he went to the Olympics and got injured while we were in the middle of a playoff race, I would be LIVID.

Well, I didn't say I don't care about the Habs winning a 25th Cup - I want that to happen as much as the next Habs fan. But if the choice in a given year comes to Cup or, as per my example, Hungary winning a bronze medal in hockey, I'd pick the latter.

Perhaps it is selfish, but it's a different kind of selfish.

The Habs winning the Stanley Cup again would be wonderful, Habs fans around the world would be thrilled. But what, really, does it do for the development of the sport elsewhere in the world? What does it do for popularity of the sport outside of where it's already popular? Nothing.

But, if a country like Hungary, or Denmark, or Slovenia were to get to the Olympics, and their NHL players taking part meant they win even a bronze medal, or even getting to the quarter final, that brings an IMMENSE amount of attention and prestige to the sport, and makes a whole lot of kids say "Hey, I wanna play that game too!", which means that the game of hockey gets an enormous boost in a country where it's presently a marginal activity. Kids who might otherwise end up concentrating on soccer or water polo (the second most popular sport in Hungary - in part because Hungary consistently wins Olympic and World Championship medals since the 1950s).

And what that means down the road, is that smaller countries like Hungary and Denmark and Slovenia would have a depth of talent such that they would still be able to ice a competitive team even without their NHL players - Canada, Russia, Finland, Sweden could all put very competitive teams on the ice without their NHL stars, but for a Slovenia, the presence or absence of an Anze Kopitar could make all the difference.

If hockey globalization is succcessful, the player base will be more diverse for just about any major hockey league in the world. But, for globalization to succeed, we need the best players to play in the largest tribune available, the Olympics.

Olympics, and the World Championships - don't forget that it's only Canada and the US where the Worlds aren't given that much attention - elsewhere in the hockey world, it is THE hockey event of the year, eclipsing everything else.

Hockey is quite popular in North Korea - you don't think the people there were thrilled that the DPRK team won the Division 3 championship this year and earned promotion to Division 2? (Especially considering they beat an Armenian team in the final that was later disqualified for cheating - fielding mostly non-eligible Armenian-Americans). On the same sort of note, hockey got a good amount of press - a LOT more than ever before - in Spain, since Spain won the Div 2 championship and earned promotion to Div 1 for the first time ever. What these and similar cases all add up to is more attention to hockey, which translates to more kids starting to play - a stronger future for the game.

I still say they should stop going and just play. The NHL on it's own doesn't owe anything to the IIHF we have seen how well the IIHF stands behing a binding contract (caugh caugh) Radulov. The players are paid by us essentially and thus by the clubs owners. I say they stay home let the AHL kids go and play.

The Radulov matter has nothing to do with the IIHF. And even if it did - the NHL consistently ignores IIHF regulations and the regulations and desires of national hockey federations around the world, when these conflict with the NHL's interests. So until the NHL decides to get in line with international player transfer standards, they have absolutely ZERO reason to complain if somebody decides to ignore them.

Further, as ColRouleBleu said, the NHL owes /everything/ to the IIHF and the national federations, as it is those organisations that developed their Ovechkins, Malkins, Jagrs, Kurris, Naslunds, etc.

And this connects to the QMJHL/WHL/OHL bringing kids over from Europe. The point that these leagues makes is a valid one - these kids get to play in the best junior league on the planet. But the key word is JUNIOR. The players can't learn very much from other kids. A young Czech kid would learn a LOT more staying home playing in the Extraliga alongside and against experienced Czech players, many of them former NHLers. The QMJ/O/WHL's pillaging of the Czech and Slovak junior systems is a direct cause of the sorry shape that hockey is in in these two countries. Look at the Slovak Olympic team - they did well, but the players were for the most part museum pieces. All the young kids with any talent at all came over to the Canadian junior leagues, and their development got stunted... but I'm digressing now. If anyone cares, I'll find that report that George Kingston wrote on exactly this subject and post a link. It's very illuminating.

(TBC)

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If the globalization of hockey depends on an event that happens once every four years, we're never going to see it in our life time. There has to be something that happens annually or even every other year. Hockey isn't soccer and a once every four years tournament isn't going help it any. If the world is only looking at hockey once every four years, it doesn't help much. How many people in China, Netherlands, India, Australia, South Africa are looking forward to the next Winter Olympics to see the big stars of the Nhl come play? Now think about how many are looking forward to Brazil 2014 to see the biggest stars in Soccer play. I understand that this is the point people are trying to make. That we need the big name players there to make people want to see hockey. But, if it happens once every four years it's not going to help because hockey isn't developed in these countries. There has to be something on its own, outside of the Olympics that makes people want to watch. Look at soccer at the Olympics and then the World Cup. What gets more attention? Why?

There is such an event already - the World Championships: the Division 1, 2 and 3 competitions as much as the elite pool competitions. People in hockey's developing countries (and in the hardcore hockey countries in Europe) look forward to that every year, more than to any other hockey competition.

Yet if the NHL had its way, there wouldn't be any NHLers there, either. I for one fully agreed with the article by that IIHF official slamming players like Crosby who whined that they're "too tired" to take part. Ovechkin, Malkin, all the others who did play, weren't too tired? NHL regulars who are ten years older than he is, weren't too tired?

It's also playable in every country more or less lol. But, soccer in the Olympics doesn't get as much attention because you have so many more tournaments. The Champions League incorporates teams from England to Russia and it's a pretty big soccer tournament itself. I mean, my family and friends always get together to watch it and cheer our teams on. Hockey doesn't have an annual tournament like that. Here we have the Concacaf Champions League again now that incorporates teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Once again, hockey doesn't have something like that. Honestly, I don't blame the Nhl, the IIHF should be the ones out there promoting the game of Hockey more. There shouldn't be this reliance on the Nhl all the time. It's not all the Nhl's fault that hockey isn't so widely known. Honestly, imagine how wicked it would be if there was a tournament in hockey that pit the Champions of all the various hockey leagues in the world against each other in a tournament to determine the "best" team in the world. That would be crazy, people all over would get in to it and we would get better exposure to teams/players from leagues other than the Nhl. I know the timing and stuff is hard, but like anything else it is possible if they would all work together.

I just don't think that Nhl players not being at the Olympics is the be all/end all of the "globalization" of hockey.

Don't put all the blame on the IIHF here. They've tried hard to get something like that going. The intention of the Victoria Cup was exactly that - have the European club champions play against the Stanley Cup champion. But, of course, the NHL wouldn't go that far, only sending random teams - the New York Rangers the first year (who beat a KHL team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk IIRC), and then last year, the Chicago Blackhawks - who with a full NHL roster were beaten by a Swiss club team. There was no Victoria Cup this year...

The NHL won't send the Stanley Cup champion, because it needs to protect the image of the Stanley Cup being THE most prestigious trophy in hockey. If the Stanley Cup champ then goes to play against the KHL champion, or the champion of the Swedish Elite League, or of the Swiss National league, and loses, then that detracts, even if only a tiny bit, from the prestige of the Stanley Cup.

The NHL will not take part in such a competition for that reason. And if they do, they'll make it very clear - as they had done in the case of the Victoria Cup - that it's "just a meaningless exhibition game".

I do blame the NHL, because it's exactly their arrogance that prevents competitions like this from happening. The European Champions Cup takes place, NHL or no NHL.

What I do blame the IIHF for is that usually they have no spine and bend over whenever the NHL says something. Which is why I was so delighted to see Fasel actually take a firm stand on something when he said he'd fight tooth and nail against the NHL expanding into Europe. (Which, personally, I think would be a lose-lose situation for everyone - for the NHL and for hockey in Europe, but that's a different matter entirely).

First countries like Ukraine, Poland, Kazakstan need help developping hockey before we go to countries like Brazil or South africa.

Hockey's been played in South Africa for decades, since the 1930s IIRC. There's a lot of countries where it's been played for a long time, that most North Americans don't know about. North Korea is hockey country - it's almost as popular, if not more so, than soccer there, since hockey was introduced there by Soviet soldiers after WW2. Northern India also has a good level of popularity for hockey (how do you explain the fact that there's enough audience in Canada, that the CBC decided to start HNIC broadcasts in Punjabi? The Punjab region is /cold/, and they play hockey there in the winters. So when people come to Canada from there, they already are hockey fans).

But I think we can't pick and choose whom we help - as a whole, as much as we need to help hockey grow in countries like Poland and Ukraine (where it is far behind soccer and basketball in popularity; Kazakhstan is hockey country), just as much we need to help countries like Spain and the United Arab Emirates (who took part in their first official World Championship this year), and all the Asian countries like Mongolia, Thailand, etc who take part in the unofficial Asian Championship, where hockey is still in a very embryonic phase.

Our direct help needs to go to those latter countries - the Argentinas, Thailands, Algerias, Bosnias, Indias, Mongolias, who are just working on developing their basic hockey infrastructure.

Countries where the infrastructure is already in place, but hockey is a marginal sport, like in Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, Japan, Spain, Slovenia, Iceland, Norway, etc., the only sort of help we can give them that will truly be helpful is a /meaningful/ World Championships and Olympics - and by meaningful, I mean that they feature the very best players every country can bring to the ice. Sure, Hungary lost to Canada 9:0 in the 2009 World Championship, but the players learned a lot more from that game, than they would have if they'd played against a Canada team filled with second-rate Canadians playing in European leagues - the Hungarian players are already on that level. They'll only improve by playing against stiffer opposition.

I think Bettman's Sochi comment is perfect summary of the NHL's arrogance (and perhaps ignorance). Sochi is widely known in Europe as an attactive resort town. Him asking that in North America is the same as someone in Europe asking "Who's been to Myrtle Beach, or Cape Cod, or Martha's Vineyard, or Acapulco?"

To sum: while I'm certain the individual people actually do care about the game (well, the actual hockey people, not the non-hockey types like Bettman), I think that the NHL as a whole, simply through corporate shortsightedness and greed, does more damage to the long-term development of hockey around the world, than it helps.

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How would you handle NHL vis-à-vis international hockey?

Who knows... maybe the day where Spain or North Korea can compete on an equal footing with Italy, France or Hungary for the final spots in the elite division is at hand!

The second part first: hopefully so! I would love to see the time come when hockey could be meaningfully divided into a regional-based qualification system for the World Championships along the lines of how football does it. We're a ways away from that yet, but one day!

As for NHL vs international hockey... if I had free reign, I'd do something like this:

First, club competitions: Have an August or early September tournament that features the Stanley Cup champion, the Gagarin Cup champion and the European Cup champion (runner up if it happens to be the same as the KHL champ) - and, if the Hockey Europe league idea comes together, their Champion - have a round-robin tournament with a best-of-three final between the 1st and 2nd place teams for the Victoria Cup - and this would be promoted as a serious "World Club Championship" event, not a meaningless exhibition (promotion is the key!). This would then supplement or replace some or all of the exhibition games that these teams would play in their preseason warmup - so there's little to no conflict with league scheduling.

That was the easier part of the question.

The harder part is NHL vs national teams. Again assuming free reign to do as I see fit...

First, the Elite Pool gets shrunk from 16 to 14 teams, Division one is expanded from 12 to 14 teams. This may seem counterintuitive at first, but read on...

...in an Olympic year, the NHL schedules a break. The IIHF merges the World Championship with the Olympic competition, so that in the Olympic year, the Olympic competition IS the World Championship. To this end, the Olympic field of competitors is expanded from 12 to 14 teams (which the Olympic organisers probably wouldn't complain about - yes, the two added teams would lengthen the competition somewhat, but it's that many more games off which revenue would be brought in, at a relatively insignificant increase in expenditure). This way, there is only one major national-team tournament each year.

In non-Olympic years, the NHL doesn't schedule a break for the World Championships, but both the NHL and the IIHF make accomodations: the NHL shifts the schedule to an earlier start (August preseason, September league start, to come more into line with league start dates in the rest of the world). Further, the NHL cuts back the regular season to 78 or 80 games, and does away with the scheduled start times for playoff series - as soon as the two teams are ready to start playing, they play, after a two-day break. This could significantly shorten the time it takes for the playoffs to be played out, with an eye to having the Stanley Cup awarded on June 1st at the very latest. The IIHF makes an accomodation by rescheduling the World Championships (at all levels) to the end of June/early July, when all league competitions are already concluded. This wouldn't be a logistical issue, as IHWC games are played in indoor arenas at every level.

The NHL, KHL, other leagues would also contribute to paying for the organisation of the IHWCs - and, they'd receive a share of the income as well. (Which, ideally, I'd see the NHL then turn around and invest in the development of hockey programs in Div 2 and Div 3 countries, but that's a secondary matter).

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Northern India also has a good level of popularity for hockey (how do you explain the fact that there's enough audience in Canada, that the CBC decided to start HNIC broadcasts in Punjabi? The Punjab region is /cold/, and they play hockey there in the winters. So when people come to Canada from there, they already are hockey fans).

No offense, but, I'm Punjabi and the reason the Cbc started to broadcast in Punjabi is because theres a large Punjabi population in Canada that has been here in Canada. The first Punjabi people arrived in Canada in 1887 and there were 5000 of them in Canada by 1907. I know Sikhs in British Columbia, Punjabis, who can trace their Canadian hertiage back over a hundred years. In Ontario, there have been Sikhs since around the 70s. What does this mean? Punjabi kids have been growing up in Canada for a while. Those who live here, have adopted Canadian culture pretty well. The Cbc just finally started to reconize this. It's not that people from Punjab come here and are already into hockey. I can guarantee you that isn't happening. If they are into hockey, it's because they're adopting the culture here and they're being put on to it by family/friends who have already been living here. I have a lot of friends from Punjab and they didn't know a thing about hockey until they came to Canada. I'm not saying they don't play hockey there, if they do it's most likely field hockey. The Cbc broadcasting HNIC in Punjabi has nothing to do with the love of hockey in Punjab, that much I can guarantee you. It has more to do with the recognition that Punjabi people have been in Canada for some time and we have been supporting Canada's game for some time.

But this is another type of debate/discussion.

To sum: while I'm certain the individual people actually do care about the game (well, the actual hockey people, not the non-hockey types like Bettman), I think that the NHL as a whole, simply through corporate shortsightedness and greed, does more damage to the long-term development of hockey around the world, than it helps.

Corporate shortsightedness? The Nhl doesn't throw its sponsors names all over their teams jerseys ;). The IOC doesn't help the Nhl any does it? I mean if it does enlighten me. But, from what I've heard the IOC doesn't give anything back to the Nhl for using it's players. The reality of it is, nothing in this world is free. Like I said though, it shouldn't fall directly on the Nhl's shoulders to develop hockey around the world. That's what we have the IIHF for. They should be working with the Nhl to come to some sort of fair deal in which the Nhl feels comfortable taking part. They shouldn't just pose an idea and then let it die because the Nhl doesn't see it as making any sense. Why does the IIHF give the WJC to North America so much if the game is already developed here, instead of other countries where the game needs help? Isn't that corporate short sightedness too?

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Just a short comment regarding Punjab - I've seen several videos on Youtube and read various reports of (ice) hockey games being played in the Punjab region on open-air surfaces. So the game isn't completely unknown there, and that was my main point.

I agree, it shouldn't fall directly on the NHL's shoulders, the development of worldwide hockey. What I'm saying, though, is that the NHL needs to stop actively working /against/ it - which is effectively what they are doing. You say the IOC doesn't give anything back to the NHL for using its players - but on the flip side of the same coin, the NHL is giving zero back to the national federations for taking the players /they/ developed, and fights tooth and nail against paying a reasonable transfer fee to the national federations. The NHL, short form, wants everything, for nothing in return.

The NHL won't likely feel comfortable taking part in anything that isn't exactly how the NHL wants it. And the NHL doesn't care whether hockey is developed in Georgia or Thailand or Spain, their only interest is that Russia, Sweden, Finland continue producing high-calibre players they can then steal away for peanuts - and then say, sorry, no, you can't have him back for two weeks.

As for your point about the WJC, no, it isn't - because the income brought in from the North American gates, the IIHF takes and turns around and invests in the lower levels - it's that money from the Canadian audience for example, that pays for and makes possible the Division 3 WJC to take place at all.

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Just a short comment regarding Punjab - I've seen several videos on Youtube and read various reports of (ice) hockey games being played in the Punjab region on open-air surfaces. So the game isn't completely unknown there, and that was my main point.

I agree, it shouldn't fall directly on the NHL's shoulders, the development of worldwide hockey. What I'm saying, though, is that the NHL needs to stop actively working /against/ it - which is effectively what they are doing. You say the IOC doesn't give anything back to the NHL for using its players - but on the flip side of the same coin, the NHL is giving zero back to the national federations for taking the players /they/ developed, and fights tooth and nail against paying a reasonable transfer fee to the national federations. The NHL, short form, wants everything, for nothing in return.

The NHL won't likely feel comfortable taking part in anything that isn't exactly how the NHL wants it. And the NHL doesn't care whether hockey is developed in Georgia or Thailand or Spain, their only interest is that Russia, Sweden, Finland continue producing high-calibre players they can then steal away for peanuts - and then say, sorry, no, you can't have him back for two weeks.

As for your point about the WJC, no, it isn't - because the income brought in from the North American gates, the IIHF takes and turns around and invests in the lower levels - it's that money from the Canadian audience for example, that pays for and makes possible the Division 3 WJC to take place at all.

I didn't say they don't know what Ice Hockey is in Punjab, I just said that if they're playing hockey it's most likely Field Hockey because it's a bigger sport in that part of the world. They may have ice hockey games here and there but that's not the reason why the Cbc started broadcasting HNIC in Punjabi as you suggested.

As for the Nhl "taking" players. The players from around the world don't have to play in the Nhl. They may be drafted by an Nhl team but they still have the option to play where they want, in terms of league. The only thing they are held to is that if they come to the Nhl they have to go through the same process as anyone else. Meaning, their rights belong to the team that drafted them etc. There is also nothing stopping the teams from the European leagues from drafting kids from North America. It isn't the Nhl's fault that if a kid grows up wanting to play hockey in North America, they're probably dreaming about the Nhl as opposed to the Khl. That's just the reality of it. When I was growing up playing street hockey with my friends and cousins, we weren't winning gold medals or European league championships. We were playing game seven of the stanley cup finals. That's the culture of hockey here. I'm sorry that the Khl doesn't have the same appeal as the Nhl might have to some. That being said, I know people from here who have gone to Russia to play hockey and make a couple million. Furthermore, I was talking about the IOC and not development programs from various nations. There is a difference between the two. To you there might be no difference, but there is a difference. Does the IOC give back revenue made from Nhl players being at the Olympics to the IIHF to invest into hockey programs? Does it go around promoting hockey in nations where it should be promoted and developed further? I've never heard of the IOC doing such a thing, so why does the IOC deserve Nhl players bringing in money to the gates?

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Hockey is already a very international game,but it does need some promoting ,it should be promoted within countries helped by the NHL and the IOC that would be a much more interesting way to go ,did you know that the second oldest hockey cup is Australian and the 16 ranked highest player at age 16 last year was a Newzealander so there is plenty of hockey going on around the world,the NHL should help the leagues in other countries to promote within,it is only when you have a successful league at home that you can look forward to success internationally,to make it more exciting,take the Netherlands they have some of the fastest skaters in the world they are the biggest average size in the world they have plenty of ice when the canals freeze over they could become some of the best players in the world,they also are quite competitive they have everything going for them to make good hockey teams but you never hear about them,I don't even know if they have a league in the Netherlands but if they do it is proberly played by failed NHL players as it is in England not home grown talent.

To take the NHL out of the Olympics in my opinion would be disastrous it is the biggest shop window in the world for our sport if you want to sell something you do not hide it under the counter you put it on display that is basic logic and what about the players them selves has anybody asked them what they want Ovie says he will play no matter what the NHL says these players are employed by the owners and the NHL not owned by them they are treated like well played slaves,alright so it is their choice their dream but come on these are people

GO HABS GO :D :D

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Since when did the Olympics showcase amateur athletes? Haven't the pros always been competing?

In reality the Russian national team played for years and were totally funded by their government which allowed them amateur status.This explains why they were a hockey power at the olympics for years. The travesty was that our best players were payed by their teams which made them pros.As far as the debate goes I believe the monies accrued playing at the Olympics should be given to each country as a % from top team getting the most and so forth that way they can support their youth hockey systems to better the quality of hockey for each country.

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In reality the Russian national team played for years and were totally funded by their government which allowed them amateur status.This explains why they were a hockey power at the olympics for years. The travesty was that our best players were payed by their teams which made them pros.As far as the debate goes I believe the monies accrued playing at the Olympics should be given to each country as a % from top team getting the most and so forth that way they can support their youth hockey systems to better the quality of hockey for each country.

An interesting notion, for sure. But, wouldn't that just keep the system as it is? The bigger nations: Canada, Russia, Sweeden, America, Finland generally would continue recieving the most and the lesser nations who finish at the bottom recieving the least and therefore not having the money needed to support development?

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It's also playable in every country more or less lol. But, soccer in the Olympics doesn't get as much attention because you have so many more tournaments. The Champions League incorporates teams from England to Russia and it's a pretty big soccer tournament itself. I mean, my family and friends always get together to watch it and cheer our teams on. Hockey doesn't have an annual tournament like that. Here we have the Concacaf Champions League again now that incorporates teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Once again, hockey doesn't have something like that. Honestly, I don't blame the Nhl, the IIHF should be the ones out there promoting the game of Hockey more. There shouldn't be this reliance on the Nhl all the time. It's not all the Nhl's fault that hockey isn't so widely known. Honestly, imagine how wicked it would be if there was a tournament in hockey that pit the Champions of all the various hockey leagues in the world against each other in a tournament to determine the "best" team in the world. That would be crazy, people all over would get in to it and we would get better exposure to teams/players from leagues other than the NHL. I know the timing and stuff is hard, but like anything else it is possible if they would all work together.

If that ever happened I would want the Stanley Cup to be awarded in that tournament.

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