Are the World Juniors highlighting the growing weakness in International hockey?

Discussion in 'International Tournaments' started by J17 Vs Proclamation, Dec 29, 2010.

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  1. J17 Vs Proclamation

    J17 Vs Proclamation Registered User

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    Watching these World Juniors in a sense feels almost redundant because this year it seems particular apparent that only two teams can IMO legitimately win ; Canada and the US. Now of course this is only one event, an event which is heavily cylical in talent. However, one can't help but feel it seems to represent the growing trends within international ice hockey.

    Clearly the two North American powers are as strong as ever. Canada is within a golden era IMO of producing talent whilst the US is witnessing a similar trend. Certainly from an American standpoint things are only going to get stronger. You are undoubtedly going to see the % of NHL players of American origin grow in the coming years.

    The American talent isn't really replacing the Canadian talent however, it is IMO replacing the stagnation we are witnessing in Europe. At this current U-20 event, it is clear no Euro team is really capable of winning this event (Outside of maybe Sweden). Again 1 year isn't a big enough sample size, but this is a growing trend over the last few years.

    Observations on individual European nations highlight this issue. Russia is clearly struggling. It's number of draft picks is very low year on year (yes, some of it is political). But reading the Russian WJ thread shows that the issue is much deeper than simply the KHL and NHL conflict.

    Finland has also produced a very low number of NHL picks recently. They haven't medalled at the World Juniors for a quite awhile and though this year they look better, there is still a lack of talent year on year coming out of Finland. I've heard this is largely due to the current system of giving every one a chance rather than truely developing the elite ; a similar problem Sweden ahd ten years ago (or maybe im wrong here). The issue seems to be systematic.

    The Czechs and Slovaks are no longer elite nations at the Junior level. They would beat one of the big 4 maybe 1 in 10 right now. The problems are well documented but the decline is going to continue until chances are actually made. In 5-10 years time we will see both Senior sides become a shadow of their former powers.


    Sweden is clearly the exception here ; developing elite talent and depth talent year on year right now. But even then, it still has issues truely beating the North Americans at Junior level because it will always have cyclical talent compared to NA.

    I know there are now some NHL players from marginal hockey countries, but this small growth is dramtically offset by the decline in talent from major European nations. It is said to see but i definitely think international hockey is actually getting weaker rather than stronger.
     
  2. IslesNorway

    IslesNorway Registered User

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    I think you are really on to something here but remember that in many European countries (ie Sweden) junior players are developed at slower pace than in the US/Canada hence the difference in quality.

    I watched a little bit of Canada vs. Czech Repulic last night and could help notice that difference in size between the teams. It made me wonder about the amount of drugs that some of these kids are bound to be taking, and how that might have an effect on a tourney like this one.
     
  3. wjhl2009fan

    wjhl2009fan Registered User

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    I hope your kidding with the drugs comment.
     
  4. Brun0

    Brun0 Registered User

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    Let me guess...

    You are Swedish?

    Keep up with the good trolling!
     
  5. Ward Cornell

    Ward Cornell Registered User

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    Since the European countries are much much smaller in land mass I assume you mean the European players taking
    growth stunt stimulants to allow everyone more room in their countries?
     
  6. f1nn

    f1nn Registered User

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    Finland has definitely been experiencing a dry spell in talent lately, but imho we're starting to produce more quality players now.. Granlund, Vatanen, Pulkkinen, Armia.. I've been impressed with Finland's play so far this year (although we are missing our best player) and hope we can continue the trend.. The problem is at the junior level a country of 5 million people is of course going to be hardpressed to ice a competitive team each year when playing against much bigger countries... there's just not enough depth
     
  7. Everlasting

    Everlasting Registered User

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    I belive its pretty simple.

    USA and Canada are huge countries with alot of people living in them. They are bound to get more talents then the rest of the world.
    And every countries has their good and bad years.

    Sweden is an exception tho. Only 9 million people and 20% of them are foreigners.
    Yet they produce alot of awesome players.

    Finland are just having really bad years right now. And so on..
     
  8. mattihp

    mattihp Registered User

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    I don't think he is talking about drugs as in illegal drugs, but more like some help from different protein stuff etc.

    IIRC Sweden has a bit higher average for height on adult men than Canada and the US, but North American players usually are alot bigger. It must also have something to do with a bigger pool of players of which to choose as well though.
     
  9. Macman

    Macman Registered User

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    I wouldn't write off Sweden. They are producing tremendous talent and they are more than capable of winning this tournament.
     
  10. wjhl2009fan

    wjhl2009fan Registered User

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    What you have to keep in mind is north american players work out every day for the most part and that is part of the reason the bigger.
     
  11. f1nn

    f1nn Registered User

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    working out makes you grow?
     
  12. wjhl2009fan

    wjhl2009fan Registered User

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    It does not affect your height but yes working out adds weight big time.
     
  13. mattihp

    mattihp Registered User

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    That was news for me as well.
     
  14. DFAC

    DFAC Registered User

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    The OP is making a valid point and far from trolling...I think you are missing his point completely.
     
  15. Moobles

    Moobles Registered User

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    Agreed, but OP does give them a chance.

    With regards to Finland, the Czechs and Slovaks- I'd be concerned in the short-term but not too much in the long-term. It is natural in sports, as I'm sure we've all experienced, for countries to go through some periods where it seems like a perfect storm of bad dispositional and situational maladies. Mismanagement, lack of funding, elites prioritizing self-interest over the good of hockey programs- it happens. In the mid-90s Canadian hockey was becoming a joke: we were still producing many great players, but we were also getting ***** on the international scene, struggling to fit into the top 3s in drafts and when we did they'd either bust or fizzle out into 3rd/4th liners. A complete overhaul of funding and the Canadian junior system though did a helluva lot of good for us. I don't know whether or not there's a timeline, but if the problems are structural in these countries then I imagine they'll eventually hit rock-bottom and rebound. These countries also have high hockey interest for European places, so I also doubt it'll just fade into the background.

    Russia is a bit of a different matter, but with Sochi coming hopefully the gov't decides to invest a lot of money into them winning.
     
  16. teris

    teris Registered User

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    I think you are overestimating how much the WJC reflects on mens tournaments. It's a fun tournament but has little effect on mens hockey (yes, some). Icing a team of first rounders would be awesome indeed and would make you likely to win the WJC but that depth stops being a force at some point in the grand scheme. As can be seen how the talk about Canada being able to ice 2 or 3 Olympic teams is just talk. And there will always be busts and late bloomers.
     
  17. J17 Vs Proclamation

    J17 Vs Proclamation Registered User

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    Im English ...
     
  18. I just kinda skimmed thru your post. BUT, let me say that this is NOT an all North American, or even just a two team race. There are 3, I repeat THREE top teams IMO. fully capable of striking Gold. Indeed , to me, Sweden looks better than the Yanks ( who only squeaked past the Finns + got beat by Czechs in exhibition )

    Canada has it's fair share of problems too, starting in goal. Really, I wanted the bigger younger Visentin ( sp ? ) right from the get go. Last nite Roy was outa position on the first goal. ANd the second ? I have no idea what was going on there ? He ducks rather sheepishly, and just waves at the puck with his glove, & doesn't come close to getting leather on it, even though that puck was only fluttering, came from a long way out, plus he didn't appear screened at all.

    There was another time when the puck is just sliding harmlessly toward Roy, he gets the paddle down but fails to control it, not only knocking the puck out in front of him, but taking himself out in the process. Had a Czech been driving to the net, that woulda been a GIFT GOAL.

    I've also seen times when our D are backing in too deep at the blue. Against a highly Creative Kronor attack that bad habit could easily result in a WORLD O HURT !

    ****

    NHL cradle robbing seems to be getting worse every year. And though North American teams have won every WJC since 2004, with Canada winning 5 of 7, people tend to lose sight of the fact that many MANY of those years, Canada almost lost in the semis.

    Give us a true best on best Jr tourney, and we'll beat Team Sweden + the rest most years convincingly... and yes I know Team Kronor are missing 3 or 4 this year, but that's something of an abberation...We're missing our 7 top U20 forwards, and that's becoming the norm...

    I'm not sure even Canada can continue to sustain these kinds of shortfalls and keep winning to the degree that it has. This year , to me, Sweden looks every bit as good as Canada , and maybe better.

    And that's a trend I fully expect to see, going forward. Sweden's thirty year Cherry is sure to get busted soon, and then a real Sverige ( sp ? ) U20 gold rush may follow

    CHEERS KRONORS/ YANKEES ET AL
     
    Last edited by moderator : Dec 29, 2010
  19. f1nn

    f1nn Registered User

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    I love seeing Finland do well but I think the fact that Finland manages to fare well in big competitions (like the Olympics) makes it harder for the structural problems to be fixed.. It might be better for finnish hockey as a whole if we just got owned in international competition (at the adult level) for a few years and more attention would be given to making a turnaround
     
  20. J17 Vs Proclamation

    J17 Vs Proclamation Registered User

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    One event is of course a useless way to gauge the state of International hockey. 4 or 5 events (Thus, 5 different age groups) is not.

    The best way to measure the state of hockey in many of these nations is the number of rinks, youth hockey players etc, but i do not have the resources or effort to complete such a task.

    The second best way is therefore to measure total NHL draft picks (But deduction, the production of elite or good youth talent) and results at international events. It is easy to make a good Senior tam boviously as you can comprise the team from over 20 draft classes, but it is getting to the point where some "elite" nations are losing good crops of players, and the draft classes born in the late 80's and early 90's should start to infiltrate the sneior team, but relative to the old gurad, are nowhere near as good.

    The population idea has been suggested, but to me that is a secondary issue ; development of the pool of players many of these nations do have is poor. Population can merely hide this development flaw to an extent. As Sweden have shown, population isn't THAT significant if you can get a solid pool of players and develop them properly. This is the major issue with European hockey right now.

    I believe Germany had more drafted players last year than the Slovaks and the same total as the Czechs. Of course it was an up year for Germany and a bad year for Czechs/Slovaks, but this shows that in any given year, two former elite nations can now produce as many draft picks as Germany ; who have not really developed in hockey from ten years ago.

    Finland only had 8 (and it was a good year for them against recent results). Finland seems to have a different issue to the Czechs/Slovaks though. I know the Czechs are seeing large loses in Youth players, whilst i remember reading that Finland isn't really sufferin that issue. Both have poor development systems but clearly the Czechs and Slovaks are also suffering a deeper crisis in hockey ; the inability to make the Youth play.
     
  21. UvBnDatsyuked

    UvBnDatsyuked Registered User

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    As far as the US is concerned, more kids than ever are working on their individual skills away from their teams. Back 20 years ago, the number of kids who shot on their own, puckhandled off-ice, went to stick times/open hockey’s, was very small. Open hockey and stick times 20 years ago, in my area, were lightly attended and the vast majority were people who could drive themselves. (16 and older) Now the open hockey’s/stick times are packed and the vast majority of the attendee's are under 16.(Obviously traditional hockey areas like Minn./Mass./NY/Michigan have always had more players committed to the game but even in those areas the commitment has been elevated in the last 20 years. ie the use of trainers, off-ice facilities)
    I remember just 9 years ago, being able to go to a stick time and have almost the entire place to myself. Now, there are three times as many stick times a week and each one has at a minimum, 20 skaters working on their skills or playing small area games.
    Canada will always be Canada and have the vast majority of their athletes committed to hockey and they will continue to produce elite talent, but this at least for me, explains why the US is producing some better talent than 20 years ago. (I refuse to give any credit to the US dev program for anything other than winning some U17/U18 tournaments. In the long run, 40 or more kids taken into this program a year is not what builds long-term success within a country. Having good athletes choose hockey and having those athletes/hockey players passionately work on their game daily is what drives success)
     
  22. MrJonas

    MrJonas Ekblades of Steel

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    I think the only country that should really start worrying is Russia. Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic and Slovakia all simply have too small populations to produce top talent every single year. Sweden had somewhat of a 'dry spell' with developing mid 80s-born players, but has fared really well with the late 80s and early 90s-born players, and is definitely a contender in this year's championship too. Finland is simply currently having a similar period as Sweden had 6-7 years ago, and so on. Russia, however, is a country of 140 million people that shouldn't have this same problem, so something must be wrong.
     
  23. Slimmy

    Slimmy Registered User

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    I don't agree that Sweden had a "dry spell" with early/mid 80's players. What we've seen in Swedish hockey lately is a conscious effort to bring a winning team to these tournaments by recruiting competent and passionate leaders into all levels of the Tre Kronor junior hockey aswell as investing more time and money into these teams.
    It truly has paid off and we're seeing a lot of Swedes taking an interest into these games now, which can not only be credited by the success in the last few years in the JWC. People are taking notice to the effort and the investment which is generating a lot of positivity.
     
  24. cenas*

    cenas* Guest

    Its a minor sport.
     
  25. wjhl2009fan

    wjhl2009fan Registered User

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    In some countries it is but to say hockey over all is a minor sport is false.
     

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