Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A final word on the 'Super' Series

Well, that was fun, wasn't it?

An eight-game series, an eight-game pounding, more or less. The Canadian juniors marked the 35th anniversary of what is considered to be one of the top international hockey competitions of all time with a major dud, a tournament that was essentially over before it started given the two sides lining up against one another.

You know, I already weighed in on the event beforehand from a Canadian player perspective, pointing out just how much more ridiculousness is added to an already ridiculous schedule by having this group of elite talents carted off to places like Ufa and Red Deer to provide content to air around the Nike Summer Shift commercial. But the group you really feel for after a beat down that saw the Russians outscored 39-13 is those players who have to head back to a system that's going to be ripped in the press and by that country's hockey minds.

It's no secret that this group of under 20s represent a down year for Russia, but we're not talking about a minor imbalance among the hockey powers. This was a thrashing, and the results won't be pretty:
"Our hockey players do not have the training, there is no character, there is no understanding of the demands of playing today's hockey," Russian sports minister Slava Fetisov said.

"Our hockey has lost its identity. It is possible to define easily the Finnish, Swedish, Czech style, also Canadian and Americans. And ours — faceless."
Who knows what the "solution" will be, but here's hoping it's not something resembling the hockey factory that saw kids like Alex Mogilny and others shipped to Moscow under the Soviet system and trained in sport schools.

I give Fetisov credit for continuing to fight for and represent his country, despite the fact he escaped to make a living in the NHL late in his career, but even now he's still fighting the old minds that believe his departure began the talent exodus. There are also an incredible number of social and political challenges still facing Russia, nevermind what is happening in sport, and it's far from my place to say whether that's what's led to the shrivelling of the hockey pipeline from that country.

What I do know is that no future strategy should rely too heavily on the results of this series, which was far from super and utterly forgettable.

Hopefully this means juniors can enjoy their summers from now on. Aside from all that running, I mean.

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At 8:43 a.m., September 11, 2007, Blogger FAUXRUMORS said...

1) Well we disagree with Slava Fetisov on one point, in that Russian hockey DOES have an identity like the others he mentioned, but its NOT a flattering identity.
2) Its one of selfish, flashy, ego-centric, me-first players who have immense talent, but no heart. Players like Ovechkin are a HUGE minority, while the majority seem to be more represented. The face of this identity: Alexei Yashin

At 11:24 a.m., September 11, 2007, Anonymous Keith said...

What gets me is that during the last game, RSN had a promo for the ADT Canada-Russia challenge. That kinda floored me, as I wasn't expecting that the Russians would want to get embarrassed yet again so soon after this debacle.

I guess in two months, we get to watch the CHL go 6-0 against Russia, yet again.

At 1:03 p.m., September 11, 2007, Anonymous Dennis Prouse said...

The Russians will no doubt get some badly needed cash by playing in that ADT Challenge. It's a little bit like those small schools who agree to play the big Division I powers in football. Sure, they get clobbered, but their school gets a nice little cash present for their trouble, one that the Athletic Department is pleased to receive.

At 1:06 p.m., September 11, 2007, Blogger FAUXRUMORS said...

1) Sure some cash may flow into Russia, but who will see that the money stays in the proper hands?

At 1:15 p.m., September 11, 2007, Blogger sager said...

About 2 1/2 years ago when I worked at a small newspaper I wrote Canada had become "the bully of the world" in hockey and that in a strange way, watching the Euroleagueurs we throw together for the Spengler Cup resonated more than watching the juniors (this was the Crosby-Phaneuf team) pound the bejabbers out of everyone.

So was I just an early adopter?

At 1:32 p.m., September 11, 2007, Blogger grease trap said...

I'm just impressed that they have a minister for hockey.

I'm throwing in with faux, here. There's plenty of skill and talent on that Russian team, but it was always "me-first" and very little team play. Frustrating to watch for a hockey fan who knew they had a far more competitively-able roster than we got to see.

At 1:45 p.m., September 11, 2007, Blogger godot10 said...

I think Fetisov and Tretiak wanted the current Russian hockey program to be humiliated and given a wakeup call.

They got the exact results they wanted. They wanted to hit rock bottom so they could begin to change the system and the culture of Russian hockey.

At 6:39 p.m., September 11, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be great if all Russians would stay in their homeland. Modern day Iron Curtain so to speak.

In 20 years we could play another Summit Series with some life to it. But 40 years would be even better. Then I would be 87 years old and either dead or very happy to watch hockey. Any hockey.

At 9:57 p.m., September 11, 2007, Anonymous Baroque said...

It's a little bit like those small schools who agree to play the big Division I powers in football. Sure, they get clobbered, but their school gets a nice little cash present for their trouble, one that the Athletic Department is pleased to receive.

Unless you are the University of Michigan Wolverines. Then you get whumped in your home opener aAND pay $400,000 to Appalachian State for the priviledge! :)

I just hope that the powers in charge allow the necessary changes to be made, instead of trying to convince themselves that it really isn't that bad, and no sweeping changes need to be made.

At 11:52 p.m., September 11, 2007, Blogger Nick said...

What happened to that guy who was talking all that smack in the post about how there's no talent coming out of russia? He's awfully quiet now.

At 8:35 a.m., September 12, 2007, Blogger Chemmy said...

Nick: He was quiet before the games even started, because it's obvious that the RSL is a third rate league and that plenty of Russians are more than happy to pack up their toys and go there when they're not treated like superstars.


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