A proposal for Olympic hockey reform
I like Olympic hockey as much as the next guy, but what I can't stand is 8-0 games between Canada and Norway that feature goaltenders that have day jobs going up against $130-million of NHL talent.
All the while, all I can think about is how it's too bad the Olympics don't have Canada play all of its five or six games against other contenders. As it stands now, we may not even see Canada-Russia, which is what we've waited four years for.
Here's my proposal for how to change the tournament (originally posted on Twitter in various rants earlier today):
Top six ranked countries should play five games in Group A:
Russia, Canada, Sweden, Finland, U.S., Czech
Bottom six play in Group B for two quarter-final berths:
Switzerland, Belarus, Slovakia, Latvia, Norway, Germany
The initial group stage suddenly has high stakes against great opponents: Beat good teams, you get to face a Group B team in sudden death and have a much higher chance of moving on. Lose in the early going, and you've got a very tough opponent in the quarter-final.
For Group B, it's win and you move on; otherwise, you're toast after five games.
Canada, Russia, Sweden, etc., should never face Italy, Norway, etc., unless those teams earn the game with a few wins. It really weakens the entire tournament to waste round-robin games on lopsided opponents – and there's zero reason why they can't reform the format.
It's two weeks of what should be the best hockey we see in a four-year period. Right now, it's only that for a couple of the games and that's just too bad.
Labels: 2010 Olympics