The origin of a great hockey country.

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by interminded, Aug 22, 2005.

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  1. interminded

    interminded Registered User

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    We all now that the Russia, better say the former Soviet Union always has been a big big hockey-nation, the last 50 years. So has the Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia).

    What strikes me is that why just these (former Warsaw-pact) countries ?
    Why isn´t Hungary, Romania or Poland a great hockey country ?
    The same for Sweden and Finland. Why aren´t Norway or Denmark ?

    All these countries (especially the eastern europe ones) have a great hockey-tradition, but some of their "neighbours" just don´t.

    I know it´s a longshot, but why is that ??
     
  2. 12# Peter Bondra

    12# Peter Bondra Registered User

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    Romania has a long ice-hockey tradition. They played it back in the 60's and were a couple of times in the top group.

    Poland is the same.

    Hungary is currently in the WC B category and is doing quite well.
     
  3. interminded

    interminded Registered User

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    Thanks for the answer, but that really wasn´t my question. I know those other countries play hockey as well.
    My question is why for example two countries like Russia and the Czech Republic have been two of the most dominant forces in the 60´s, 70´s, 80´s and 90´s even, while all their surrounding countries are very often not even classified as A-group countries.

    So where lies the tradition of being a great hockey country ??
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2005
  4. Pekka Lampinen

    Pekka Lampinen Registered User

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    It seems to be that the strong countries entered the top level of hockey when the societies grew to a certain level of wealth, which makes sense considering that the sport is expensive. Sweden and Czechoslovakia competed for medals in the first winter Olympics, the poorer Finland first played in the WC in 1939 and the Soviet Union's emergence in the 50's took place simultaneously with the country's general focus on sports.

    I've always thought the reasons behind a sport catching on in a certain country are pretty unspectacular.
     
  5. interminded

    interminded Registered User

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    You´re right, but sometimes I just wonder why certain countries are much more dominant in a sport then (obvious) others.
    Sometimes it´s pretty transparent:
    Countries like Finland and Sweden always had great Rally-drivers. That´s obvious cause they are countries with the ideal space to drive on, woods, hills, mountains, water. But so is Norway and they do not have that great tradition.

    For hockey it´s not so obvious.
    I mean, for 40 years, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, East-Germany, and Hungary were under communist regime. (the Soviet Union that is..)
    But only Czechoslovakia became a big hockeynation.
    Not that all the others should be the same, but one would expect a certain level of the same sports for eastern europe at that time.
    (Like almost all countries of the Warsaw pact were great in Gymnastics !)
     
  6. Macman

    Macman Registered User

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    The one that gets me is Norway. Why is Sweden and Finland so good, yet Norway isn't? Especially considering the fact they're probably the best in the world at other winter sports.
     
  7. Injektilo

    Injektilo Registered User

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    Probably just somethign to do with the sports culture at a moment in time. A country has an athlete who is spectacular at one sport in particular and makes that sport popular around his/her country while other countries ignore the sport. It becomes a part of the national culture and once that's happened, it's tough for another sport to fit in.
    If you're a kid in Finland and your friends all play hockey, you play as well to be with them, and your parents sign you up because their parents signed them up and their friends signed their kids up. If you're a kid in Norway you don't know many people who play hockey, but there sure are alot of ski hills in your area....


    In otherwords, just timing and circumstance.
     
  8. Hasbro

    Hasbro Can He Skate?! Sponsor

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    I have an interest in the more esoteric hockey nations,but unfortunately haven't been able to find much. I'm interested to see what happens with Slovenia and Andze Kopitar.
     
  9. Hasbro

    Hasbro Can He Skate?! Sponsor

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    I have an interest in the more esoteric hockey nations,but unfortunately haven't been able to find much. I'm interested to see what happens with Slovenia and Andze Kopitar.
     
  10. Mihai

    Mihai Registered User

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    For what Romania is concerned a six teams league with no real future coming along. Our U18 is playing New Zealand and other real power houses of ..rugby surely.


    Now playing Div II when Israel is playing Div I. Our talent pool is low, only one player in north-american hockey (Arpad Mihaly in AHL) and he's there since 16 or 17 years old. Our main goal is coming back to Div I this season but the future is more and more ukrainian players and slovakian ones. Seven forgein players allowed per team plus forgein goalkeeper. A certain way to improve Romania right ? ....
     
  11. interminded

    interminded Registered User

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    So can you explain why Romania has never picked up the " hockey-vibe" from Russia ? I can´t...

    (btw, isn´t Arpad Mihaly a Hungarian name by origin ?)
     
  12. Injektilo

    Injektilo Registered User

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    You should read Dave Bidini's book called The Tropic Of Hockey (if you can find it), he explores hockey in unlikely places, one of which is Romania, or more specifically, Ciuc. My girlfriend is from Romania and she really enjoyed reading it, though she had a few problems with some of the things he wrote. It's not really about the Romanian program, but more about the role hockey plays in the lives of the citizens of Ciuc and how they use it to hold onto their heritage....


    If you read it, i'd be very interested in hearing your thoughts on it... I don't know if it'd be easy to find at all in Romania (somehow I doubt it) but even if you ordered it online, it's definitely worth it, that book made me fall in love with this stupid game all over again.... heh.
     
  13. Wisent

    Wisent Registered User

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    I think most is about sponsoring and government funding. I'm sure that everywhere where there are great athletes in a certain sport, there is someone who did the funding. If the government and the other sponsors show no inerest, then no athletes. Just look what happened to China at the last Olympics. It's no coincidence that the government is pushing sports there like it never did before because of the Beijing Olympics.
     
  14. Hasbro

    Hasbro Can He Skate?! Sponsor

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    You can find the books relatively cheap at Amazon
     
  15. Pekka Lampinen

    Pekka Lampinen Registered User

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    :rolly:

    (plus Finland doesn't have mountains, and I'm pretty sure the Swedes don't race along theirs either)

    I'm not sure what was going on in Soviet hockey prior to the Second World War, but considering that they had a strong system in place by the 50's, it sounds realistic to assume that the country that kept to itself in sports at that time was already growing strong. Add to that the tradition of Czechoslovakia, and you could say that no Warsaw pact country took up hockey during that time.
     
  16. interminded

    interminded Registered User

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    Okay, no mountains.. but you know what I mean.
    Hannu Mikkola and Markku Alen weren´t so good because their mothers made a mean vegetable soup.. but because they had all the time and space to pratice on.
    Do you agree ?
     
  17. octopi

    octopi Registered User

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    First, no one plays more hockey than Canadians. Even in cold, snowny countries like Russia, Sweden, Finland, people tend to take up other sports like sking or skating as much as hockey. Which is why they tend to beat everyone else down in those sports at the Olympics.

    However, Russia, for instance is very populated, so even though everyone and their brother and sister doesbn't play hockey, they still produce many high level hockey players. Some other countries just don't have the populace or level of interest.
     
  18. 007

    007 You 'Orns!

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    This argument makes the most sense to me. Under their Communist governments, perhaps only Czechoslovakia and the USSR made the decision to invest in hockey programmes. With Hungary I would add that they were such a strong soccer nation in the '50s that hockey probably wasn't even on the radar. (I also wouldn't be surprised if there was some sort of political pressure that damaged the Hungarian sports programme after the Soviet invasion in '58).

    It's only been 16 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and even the successful post-Communist Bloc countries are only now starting to gain a real level of prosperity. I wouldn't be surprised if, when there is some extra cash to burn, Poland and Latvia invest in their hockey programmes.

    The other country whose lack of a strong hockey tradition surprises me is the Netherlands. They have such a strong tradition for both soccer and speed skating, and I know that hockey-like games have been played there for centuries: there's a 17th-century painting here in NY at the Metropolitan Museum of people playing a game like hockey on a frozen canal in Holland.
     
  19. interminded

    interminded Registered User

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    Octopi, I don´t say that you´re wrong and please don´t GET met wrong, but it´s just not an answer to my question.

    I would like to find out why certain countries have a high density of a certain sport while other obvious ones that don´t have.
    The example Sweden\Finland and Norway is a good one, hockey-wise that is..
     
  20. Pepper

    Pepper Registered User

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    Norwegians haven't been traditionally strong in Rallying since it has been illegal to drive rallies in Norway until recently (90's or so).
     
  21. Mihai

    Mihai Registered User

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    Well as you said i didnt read it :) And online could be a good option once i get a CC amazon accepts :p But for the hockey area. Indeed the Harghita-Covasna area is all the hockey vibe we got. Fewer and fewer players in Bucharest. And only one game to watch all season Steaua-SCMC, others are 5-0, 13-2 scores. Maybe some sneak previews of the book in a PM ?

    interminded
    As for Arpad Mihaly's name yes its hungarian, 7% of Romania is of hungarian origian and that 7% cares about hockey. And as a curiosity i read somewhere he doesnt know romanian either, but well he's got a romanian passport and was born in Romania. The hockey vibe is there somewhat, the third most viewed finals after football and handball. But nobody invests in this sport, thats the main problem, the problem of any romanian sport.

    And a personal opinion on why sports decaded in some countries. Belarus, Kazashtan (mispell sorry), Latvia, and some other ex-soviet countries instead of USSR. One idea the other is lack of interest in the countries interminded metioned.
     
  22. Victory Ali*

    Victory Ali* Guest

    Part of my family is from Romania and my grandmother actually goes there every once in awhile to check in on our family over. She says that the people there are extremely poor and that there's been no progress made since the USSR days. Literally the cities she's visited have had no progress in building or repair and some of the cities still look as they did when world war two ended. Now here I am twenty-year old American living in a major city trying to scrape together the thousand or so dollars it'll cost to buy hockey gear and to learn the game. I can only imagine how impossible it'd be for my Romanian equivalent to do the same in his hometown.

    I think that's the main reason why hockey never caught on is that it's so damn expensive.
     
  23. Mihai

    Mihai Registered User

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    Nice having a romanian heritage. And yes only some cities live, rest are not so developed. But thinking of it only Bucharest is a really big city involved in hockey, rest are not so big ones, just that there people are interested and sponsor the teams. NHLPA gave the federation some equipment a while ago, nothing heard of it, and also transfers of seniors are like : we give you that player we want 10 full junior equipments. (not in every case but at least a case i heard about).
     
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