It is not the kind of match up we wanted to see in the finals of the World Cup of Hockey. We expected Canada to reach but Team Europe doesn’t scream marquee. Yes, Europe does have a number of quality NHL players like Zdeno Chara and Anze Kopitar. But if you are on Team Canada, Europe is not a team you get pumped up for.
It would have been nice to see Canada vs. US or Canada vs. Russia in the final. Even the North American Under 23 team against any of those three nations would have made for must see TV. Some have complained about the lack of excitement in the tournament. But the one key ingredient that seems to be missing is animosity. Not punching each other out kind of animosity but if there is no intensity and hate between the two teams then it makes for pretty boring hockey, kind of like the All-Star Game. Animosity doesn’t seem to be a problem in other international competitions so how come the games we are watching is more pond hockey than the Stanley Cup Final? Even the game between Canada and the US didn’t feature a lot the nastiness that we have been accustomed to seeing in competitions like this.
Perhaps this is because most of the players participating in the tournament are on NHL teams. Some who are once arch rivals are now teammates while others who play for the same NHL club are opponents. Maybe because this tournament is being held prior to start of the NHL season, there is no effort from players to go full-out and risk getting hurt. Whatever it is, no one seems to want the championship so bad that they will knock opponents off their skates. But animosity would have solved that. Animosity brings out the best in athletes. Animosity drives players. Animosity makes for great hockey.
There is nothing wrong with having some animosity in sport. If anything, the tournament was designed to attract politically correct folks who wouldn’t normally watch a hockey game, or sports in general, due to its violent nature. Hockey is not a gentleman’s sport. Sure they will shake hands at the end of their battle. But no one should be kind to one another once the puck drops. There ought to be blood, loss of teeth, and maybe a broken bone or two. And I have hardly have ever since a drop of it in this tournament.
If the World Cup of Hockey is to continue to thrive, there better be some feistiness among teams or you can put it on the shelf permanently.