Maybe we Americans need to care more about the IIHF Worlds.
First and foremost, I want to congratulate the American hockey team for capturing the bronze medal. It was the second bronze in three years for USA Hockey at the IIHF World. This accomplishment is especially meaningful since the roster was filled with younger players.
However, it doesn’t seem like many American hockey fans cared.
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Our own Drew Weber pretty much covered it in his wrap up of the bronze medal game victory over the host Czech Republic. Drew summed it up like this.
Getting people to watch the IIHF World Championship is like trying to get Joe Thornton to shoot; it’s almost impossible to do. Some say that it is a pointless tournament while others want to watch super-stars perform instead.
Some U.S. Hockey Players Don’t Care
First, I’m not going to bash anyone that’s injured. If a guy is a little dinged up, then I’ll give that player a pass. However, there are some guys that did miss the tournament that did not make the postseason. One of my good followers Anthony Batissa gave me a very detailed list of who missed the tournament.
That’s a pretty good list of talent that didn’t make the trip to the Czech Republic. Imagine if some of those guys came over to play. It would’ve been pretty nice to have Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk, Bobby Ryan and more on the team at the IIHF Worlds.
I would’ve loved a guy like Craig Smith, but guy who made the second round might get the benefit of the doubt.
It’s disheartening to see teams like Canada, Russia, Sweden and Finland load up with some of their best available stars, while the U.S. seemingly has to beg people to join the team for the IIHF Worlds. (Especially when you see a guy like Alex Ovechkin hop on a plane and suit up for Russia after getting eliminated for the Stanley Cup.)
However, I will give credit to guys that sucked it up and made the trip.
American Fans Don’t Care About IIHF Worlds
As Drew pointed out in his article, some fans just don’t care. When I posted the “5 Reasons You Should Watch the IIHF World Hockey Championship,” ,” I immediately got comments of “irrelevant tournament” and “who cares.”
It’s kind of disheartening to see people write off the IIHF Worlds without even bothering to check it out. I know the event falls in the middle of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but a lot of fans of eliminated teams like to keep tabs on the IIHF worlds.
The event could be a harbinger of the next season. Look at Pekka Rinne. He shook off an injury riddled 2014 season to earn MVP honors at last year’s tournament. Rinne used that momentum to a Vezina Trophy nomination and a solid season.
The event is on a lot of European fans calendar. Even Canada got into the act this year. Most of the games were broadcast live, while American fans weren’t able to find the bronze medal game on live television.
RELATED: Lack of U.S. TV Coverage Hurts IIHF Hockey Popularity in the States
If NBCSN didn’t really care, then how can most fans care? I know I’ll get the familiar refrains of finding an internet stream, but I’m not going anywhere near that filthy malware.
USA Hockey Doesn’t Seem to Care
It also seems like USA Hockey is going through the motions when trying to find a team for the IIHF Worlds. I know it’s hard to find guys that want to play, but it seems there eggs in other baskets.
USA Hockey will be all about the upcoming World Cup of Hockey in 2016, and is probably hoping that NHL players are allowed to play in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Those events seem to have no shortage of people wanting to play for Team USA.
However, it’s more of a task to get guys to cut short their summer vacation for the IIHF worlds. It might be even more difficult next year with the impending World Cup. I just hope some guys give playing in the IIHF Worlds a fair shot.
I’ll echo what Drew Weber said in his recap, that it’s merely going to be for national pride every tournament. It seems to me the goal just to get into the quarterfinals.
However, maybe USA Hockey has the right formula. Instead of getting players that are annoyed they have to go to Europe for a tournament, maybe they get some young, hungry players that want to be there. The college kids and the younger NHLers looked thrilled to be there. Maybe that’s what they need.
What do you think? Leave your comments below.
Dan Mount is a Nashville Predators staff writer for The Hockey Writers. You can follow him on Twitter, @DanMountSports.