Monday, December 31, 2007

Canada wins Spengler Cup

The Spengler Cup could just as well have been the Stanley Cup for the joyous Canadian team.

Kirby Law and Ryan Keller scored in the second period to lift Canada to a 2-1 victory over Russian club Salavat Yulaev Ufa to win the 81st Spengler Cup tournament on Monday.

The players, mostly NHL cast-offs now skating for European club teams, erupted in celebration as time wound down on Canada's first win at the annual Christmas-week event since 2003.
Normally I make a point to catch a few games of the Spengler tournament over the holidays, but I frankly didn't see a minute of this year's event.

There was a bit more added intrigue for the Canadian side, with Curtis Joseph in goal and Doug Gilmour on the bench as an assistant coach, and it's nice to see a few unheralded former NHLers get a bit of the spotlight.

Team Canada's roster included Cujo and Sebastien Caron in goal, Mark Giordano, Yannick Tremblay, Danny Syvret and Shawn Heins on defence, and Serge Aubin, Ramzi Abid, former Kamloops star Hnat Domenichelli, Simon Gamache, J.P. Vigier, Marty Murray and Travis Green.

Players of note from other teams in the tournament included Janne Niinimaa, Alexandre Daigle, Juraj Kolnik, Dan LaCouture, Erik Westrum (HC Davos), Oleg Tverdovsky, Alexander Perezhogin, Igor Grigorenko, Stanislav Chistov (Ufa), Dan McGillis, Sven Butenschon, Rene Corbet, Rico Fata and Jeff Shantz (Mannheim).

Tim Wharnsby has some words of congratulation for Canadian head coach Sean Simpson. Paul Romanuk's been covering the tournament on his website.


At 2:44 p.m., December 31, 2007, Anonymous Kevin Forbes said...

Actually Flaherty missed the tournament with injury. Sebastian Caron (another NHL cast-off) replaced him as Cujo's backup.

At 2:53 p.m., December 31, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everybody should notice that this was 81st Spengler Cup. There's some history there.

At 12:59 p.m., January 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still have trouble figuring out the entry criteria for this event. Is Canada the only one with a 'national' team? Are the other club teams involved actually national teams too? It seems like a group of Canadians (not all of them European players) get to play against club sides. If thats the case, I would certainly hope we'd win every year! Can someone fill me in?

At 3:21 p.m., January 01, 2008, Blogger allan said...

History is right. It's the oldest international tournament in the game.

The entry criteria is both simple and ambiguous - it's by invitation only. It's always a 5 team tournament:

- As hosts, Davos are always involved.
- Each year since 1948, Canada has sent a team made up of Canadians playing pro in European leagues, with the occasional AHLer like Danny Syvret. They've won 11 of 23.
- For the past few years, the tournament has been filled out by an invited team from the DEL, RSL, and Czech Extraliga, but in previous years, I've seen Finnish and Swedish teams, too.

Since the Canadian team is made of of players who play in the same or similar leagues as the club teams, they're at no substantial advantage in the tournament. To make things a bit more strange, there are always quite a few Canadian players playing for the club teams. In fact, 9 players on Mannheim's 22 man roster are Canadian.


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