Discussion in 'Eastern Europe' started by DominikBokkFan, Dec 31, 2016.
Is hockey like non-existent in Estonia? Or what? I mean Estonia should have a decent hockey market.
Historical reasons - and the fact that the Estonian Hockey Federation has been run quite poorly during 1991-201x...
During the soviet occupation (1940-1991) ice hockey was a significant part of the soviet propaganda machine. 99% of native Estonians hated the soviet regime, and since ice hockey was considered a propaganda tool and a "russian" sports, most estonians didn't want to have anything to do with it, it was mainly basketball, volleyball etc that the native Estonians chose for their kids.
In some towns close to the russian border hockey was played, but the status and quality of these teams was very low. Also, only a couple ice halls were built in Estonia during those 50 years of soviet occupation.
I'm sure that hockey will grow and estonians will be more interested in hockey, there is a significant audience following the world championships and also the NHL.
The main interest is still in watching the russians get beaten by the finns or the canadians, not so much in the B tier world championship games (unfortunately the Estonian team still consists mainly of russian-speaking players and nobody cares if they are ranked 22nd or 28th in the world). What we need is at least 1 really good young estonian player, to be NHL-drafted quite high - and the interest for hockey will grow very quickly right away.
One question I've always pondered... I agree with your reasoning why Estonians are not into hockey. But why didn't the same happen to Latvia? They were under the same iron curtain and yet, they love their hockey.
Btw, Leo Komarov is the first Estonian born player to play in the NHL.
Komarov isn't really Estonian in any way. He is ethnically Russian and their family moved to Finland before the Soviet Union collapsed. Yes, he was born in present Estonia, but that is pretty much it when it comes to him being Estonian. Pretty much as much as Olaf KÃ¶lzig is South African.
I heard his father is of Ingrian Finnish descent, so he's not exactly fully Russian.
I think there are mainly 2 reasons:
1. Ice hockey was not considered 100% "russian-sports" in Latvia (like it totally was in Estonia during the occupation times)
2. Latvia had at least a couple of world class stars, Balderis and Irbe, who were actually Latvians, despite playing for the CCCP and they had a huge impact on Latvian youngsters (as I mentioned before, hockey was shown constantly on all soviet TV channels and the Latvians had no chance to watch western series and movies on Finnish TV like people in Northern Estonia did )
Absolutely correct. Komarov seems to be a fantastic guy and he speaks Estonian, visits Estonia regularly, but he is not Estonian and his family left Estonia when he was only 4 years old.
But there actually is an Estonian guy, who has played in the NHL, he was born to Estonian parents in Toronto and moved to Estonia as soon as independence was restored. His name is Toomas Edur.
2nd reason is HUGE (Ozolins as well), Balderis is probably most important of those. Having your native in USSR national team was a source of pride, it proved your guy is just as good as best Russian players. Same with numerous Lithuanians on USSR basketball teams.
Also, same with the teams playing in USSR highest league. Teams like Å½algiris in Lithuania (basketball and football), Dinamo Riga (hockey), ASK Riga (basketball) etc. were basically national teams of the country playing against Russians. So they were getting support from whole country and the better they played the more support they'd get. And Dinamo was obviously a very good team, reaching league finals in '88.
However, the reason why those teams were what they were is that USSR helped to develop the sports occupied countries were good at before WW2. They did that with basketball in Lithuania and hockey in Latvia since those countries had good tradition at those sports already. Estonians, meanwhile, weren't any good at those so they were alien to them rather than something that kept the memory of days of independence and national identity.
Recently, though, Estonian hockey federation has really been very active and doing A LOT to grow the sport. 2 (3?) KHL games were played in Tallinn this year, they organized Baltic cup (friendly tournament between Baltic states). Those are big step forward for them. I guess hosting D2A WC is the next logical one.
They are playing in D1B
Yeah, I meant that. Their U20 just played in D2A so I got mixed up. Obviously at men's level you go up a tier since the Elite division is so big.
Even though realistically there's no certainty they won't be playing D2A next year as they are probably the weakest team if the Netherlands can put any effort in what they are doing for a change.
In any case, they should host WC.
Toivo Suursoo had few contracts with NHL teams (Red Wings and Mighty Ducks) IIRC. ItÂ´s shame that he didnÂ´t get chance to play in there.
I was mapping players with Finnish roots when I stumbled name Mickey Oja. With bit more research I found that his real name is Mihkel Oja. Parents survived WW2 and they ended up to Canada in 1948. Oja was born in 1949. He attented on St. Louis Blues camp in 1970 and 1971?. Had contract with them and played in their minor league team. Traded to Canadiens before 1972 season. Played few fine seasons in farm team before retiring. Not a product of Estonian hockey, but Estonian who was relatively close to play in NHL.
Estonia hosted a BALTIC CHALLENGE CUP 2017
3 Baltics + 1 invited team (Hammarby If from Sweden)
As expected, Latvia dominated and won this tournament.
This tournament is pretty good idea but considering how awful the teams are (this was Lithuania's B- team, I assume same with Estonia) and how badly they were pummeled I wish it kept very low profile It would almost be better to simply play 2 back-to-back friendlies with Estonia.
Speaking of Estonian hockey, is there a schedule for the Estonian League somewhere? I've checked all the main websites and they don't seem updated. I'm going to be there for a few days in late October and thought it might be interesting to try to catch a game.
Also at least Gary Leeman and Drake Berehowsky are Estonian Canadians, although neither ever lived in Estonia.
Seems to be it?
Estonia is another small Baltic country and has been eclipsed by Finland. Long before you were born Estonia had a great chess player. Paul Keres. who was restrained by the presence of Mikhail Botvinnik of the Soviet Uniom. It was rumored that he lived in fear of being assassinated if he dared win the world championship over a dedicated Russian Communist like Botvinnik. I never met Keres but others of his generation spoke admiringly of his talent. Look up the AVRO tournament.
I made a thread about him years ago, but I could see maybe Riga signing Robert Rooba. Though he’s probably content just to keep playing in Finland.
Why would Riga out of all the teams want to sign him? The Estonian-Finnish connection is much, much stronger than the Estonian-Latvian one
In hockey anyway. In basketball which is a more Baltic sport Estonia and Latvia have a mutual league.
HAD, if you mean the Baltic Basketball League?
No, Estonian-Latvian Basketball League:
Evidently, Siim Liivik has been representing Estonia in friendly matches recently. I really really hope he got some sort of an IIHF waiver. If they could get Erik Embrich as well, that'd be a pretty decent lineup.
Siim Liivik - Elite Prospects
They have so much potential to be a good hockey nation.
They pull players out of everywhere like they did with Liivik and they have a lot of youngsters having good development abroad too, but then they make weird decisions like bailing out of the Baltic League. Why is that so?
No budget for local teams, no market, no anything.
The only relative advantage Estonia has is their proximity to Finland, other than that, their potential is kinda limited.
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