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Wednesday February 17, 2010 10:54 pm

Is women’s hockey too two-sided?




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Editorial, Olympics,

Team CanadaWith the Olympics in full swing, the world has now got a taste of what the countries in the women’s ice hockey tournament are all about. Nothing too unexpected has happened so far. For the US team it’s business as usual, while the Canadian women have laid a beating on their competition so far. In their first game last Saturday, Canada broke their own Olympic record for goals by crushing Slovakia 18-0. It was a game that prompted many questions among the hockey world.

Some argue that having Slovakia get blown out by Canada is “good” for the game; that weaker teams can’t get better unless they play the best, but this theory isn’t often fully explained. How does a team getting blown out in one game make them truly better? Does just the experience of a two-week tournament spark that much interest in hockey throughout a country that can actually help it to improve in future tournaments?

The reality is that the answer is likely “no”. Teams don’t get better after being destroyed. What is really happening is the experienced coaches are getting a chance to take a look at international players and have the opportunity to evaluate those players and maybe bring them over and teach them. It’s like scouting, except the players go to the scouts instead of the other way around. They can then take that knowledge back to their home countries. That’s how the world will develop their hockey programs.

The point is simple. The Olympics is not the stage to showcase the world’s hockey talent, not to develop it. Leave that to the three years in between. Ice hockey at the Olympics merely sells tickets, which is why the IOC doesn’t have a problem with matches like Canada against Slovakia. The mid-level countries play a competitive game against each other, but the thumping they all take at the hands of Canada and the US is embarrassing. Interest in women’s hockey worldwide is leveling-off, and the talent pool is thin outside of North America, but really, there isn’t really a better way to develop countries, and that will only lead to Canada, the US and name-your-country finishing on the podium for many Olympics to come.

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