Many of us hockey fans are excited as we keep reading about the NHL moving closer to participating in the Olympics in February. While some people always bring up the argument that NHL players should not participate in the Olympics (I’m honestly not sure where I stand), it can be very helpful for some that just haven’t gotten into international hockey yet.
Hockey fans are so passionate, we get pumped over preseason games and countdown to October all summer long. Well, think of this tournament as a preseason of the Olympics, but even better: every game counts and there’s a lot at stake.
I know of three specific reasons why you guys would love the World Championships:
First off, the love that hockey fans show for the Olympics says it all. This competition replaces the Olympics in a non-Olympic year. Sure, you may not get to see all the best players in the world because the Stanley Cup playoffs are going on right now, but that means you will be exposed to less mainstream players that deserve some attention.
Secondly, I saw you guys get into the gold medal game of the World Juniors on January 5th. And for you USA hockey fans, the USA has a shot at another medal in this competition. It would be something so amazing for USA hockey’s program. Regardless of who you are rooting for, it is much like the WJC. The players are a little older but they are playing for the same thing: pride and the pure love of hockey. It’s not about $7 million contracts or sponsorships. Also, some players you learned about and fell in love with during the WJC are in this tournament such as U.S. goaltender John Gibson.
Lastly, I know this is a time when hockey love is at an all time high. The Stanley Cup playoffs have us all turning into complete hockey nuts. We want multiple games every night, tight games, OT, everything that gives us the best hockey. So why not give yourself even more hockey? While the games are not on at the best times, there’s always DVR. Record a USA game while you’re at work and come home to a nice win for the Americans to watch and find yourself getting even more pumped for the semi final games that night.
Unfortunately the tournament only has three more days of competition after today but that does not mean that the time is up for you to get involved.
Here are some key things to know:
1. The two groups are the Helsinki group and Stockholm group. Russia finished first in the Helsinki group and Switzerland finished first in the Stockholm group, YES Switzerland.
2. Canada needed OT to defeat Slovenia yesterday… Predictable? I think not.
3. We’ve seen France beat Russia, the US beat Finland, and Austria beat Slovakia. Once again, nothing predictable there.
4. The semi-finals and medal games are saturday and sunday so it should be no problem for many to watch!
So what exactly would be anyone’s reason for not watching? Well, I have an answer to what I think the main reasons are.
1. Predictability: People think that international hockey is so predictable, but that’s how it’s portrayed. Who would have ever thought France would beat Russia? This tournament is not predictable like it used to be.
2. It’s for Europeans: This is another false belief that people have, but it is not true anymore. The US and Canada both finished second in their groups, so they have just as good of a shot at gold as Russia and Sweden.
3. The time difference: This is a totally understandable excuse, but I think it can also be worked around since the two most important games are on Sunday and the semifinals are on Saturday.
4. You don’t think international hockey is your thing: Well, maybe it isn’t your thing, but I saw a whole nation get behind the US in 2010. And I saw so many people get behind our juniors in January. I don’t see how this has to be any different. Hockey season is almost over, so why not make the most of it?
I really hope that some of you who have not tuned into the WC yet or have not followed anything that has gone on sincerely decide to change that. I get so much joy from watching our men with the USA logo on their chest. I just wish more people could feel that way too. Who knows what other unpredictable outcomes we will see. Times have changed and this tournament is evolving. Heck, international hockey as a whole is evolving. The US has not won gold since 1960, but with the European dominance changing and USA hockey’s program constantly improving, who’s to say that we’d be crazy to see a gold coming our way on Sunday. I for one believe in this team and believe that this year the predictable will not happen at all.