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A delayed rant about hockey

May 31, 2012

The World Hockey Championship circus has come and gone here in Finland (and in co-host Sweden) and let me tell ya, it always a letdown the day after the tournament ends (no matter what the final result is). This year’s tournament was no exception, it was quite clear that Team Russia was going to give everyone a run for their money and they basically steamrolled over everyone to claim the gold. I am disappointed with Canada’s performance and threw my allegiances behind Finland as they made it further. Too bad there were no winners in our household this year! We were pleasantly surprised with Slovakia’s performance though.

The fact that the tournament was co-hosted in two countries meant that we here in Finland weren’t really aware of the happenings across the Baltic Sea unless we made a deliberate effort to follow the games closely.

Following the games was complicated by two facts:

The tickets for many of the games in Finland were outrageously expensive – up to EUR 195 for games involving Finland and, for example, the Canada-USA game. The organizing committee in Finland was roundly criticized for the ridiculous ticket prices. I have to agree – the ticket prices put the tournament out of reach for many people who would otherwise want to see the games – families with kids, for example. A ticket package to Team Finland games for a family of four could have cost up to EUR 780! Definitely not for a family on a budget…

The tournament was moved to pay TV, whereas in the past the tournament games had been broadcast on the Finnish Broadcasting Corporation’s channels. We subscribed to the full-service through Elisa Vihde and Canal Plus, which cost us about EUR 40. EUR 40 is not a lot of money, but again, for a hockey fan on a tight budget, it meant that the tournament became out of reach. In addition many fans who had subscribed to the service were left with a “snowstorm” on their TV screens… What can I say, but “BOOOOO!”

I am not okay with hockey becoming a sport for those who have money, it is unfair and exclusive. As a society we try to encourage children to exercise and be exposed to sports and by removing the free access to sport, it excludes kids from getting involved – even as a spectator. Maybe some lessons will be learned by the organizers?… Highly doubtful.

I was fortunate enough to attend a few games because my dad, step-mother and sisters timed a holiday to Finland to coincide with the World Hockey Championships and my dad was more than happy to take someone along to see some games. We had a really good time. One thing can be said – in spite of the ridiculous ticket (and food and beer) prices, the atmosphere was fantastic! Thanks Dad!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Boys of Treason permalink
    May 31, 2012 10:52 pm

    I wish Jalonen would just go. I have a nagging feeling that last year Finland won not because of him but despite of him. It looked just as pathetic and apathetic as this year except for the times that the players seemed to say “screw this crappy system” and started playing proper hockey. I think this year they managed to play one or two periods of it. Last year they seemed to stop listening to him midway through the tournament.

    Jalonen has done some good things, but the system he wants the players to play just sucks the life out of them and doesn’t even provide any scoring chances. The earlier system (the important parts of which team USA seems to have just copied) was entertaining, provided scoring chances and gave a proper chance to win. Just adding some concerted attacks and some tighter close-together playing to that would been much better.

    I hate that they fired Summanen. Apparently he wasn’t very professional and lost his patience with e.g. Niinimaa, but hey, he got some impressive results on his only year: second place in the World Cup.

    • June 1, 2012 9:27 am

      I think I have to agree with you on this one. Jukka Jalonen doesn’t stand out as a “talented” or “gifted” coach to me. The thing I find utterly maddening about the way the Finns play hockey is that they waste SO much time trying to set up goals. I practically swear at the TV when I see them falling into that bloody wasteful exercise, especially during power plays. Finland will not score unless they shoot the puck. It’s like they’re afraid to get in front of the net. I remember writing about some of those things last year after the tournament was over

      I’m no expert on hockey, but that’s what I see when I watch the Finns play. Play better, they can… When they want to.

      Summanen being let go sure tells me that the players whined and got what they wanted. He’s got far more experience now and the roster has turned over a little – maybe they’ll give him another shot in the future?

      Maybe they should have signed Doug Shedden to a longer contract!

      • Boys of Treason permalink
        June 2, 2012 1:08 am

        Bwahaha. Shedden really didn’t get Finns at all!

  2. June 3, 2012 10:31 am

    Maybe that was the point – a true outsiders view who could inject something new into the life of the Finnish team… Just a thought. 😉

    • Boys of Treason permalink
      June 3, 2012 5:00 pm

      I see the point. But a coach has to be able to find a common point of origin to entice and rally the team to perform when enthusiasm or effort is lacking. He has to be part of the team. This isn’t a problem with a league coach who is allowed to lose more games and when he has to start winning the tough ones has had a whole year to integrate himself in the team. It’s a problem with a tournament coach, who has to win all the tough games from the get-go. There has to be common ground from the very beginning.

      I think Shedden didn’t really understand the Finnish mentality. Something about him felt very American. (Yes, I know he’s Canadian but I think he had a very American view of things. I don’t know the extent that is also the Canadian view.) His experience with a league team didn’t help because I think he only became a part of that team instead of getting a deeper understanding where Finns come from.

      • June 4, 2012 3:44 pm

        Absolutely – given your thoughts on this, who do you think would be a good coach for Team Finland? And are there any players that should be added or dropped from the roster? Thanks for piping in – this was interesting!

  3. Boys of Treason permalink
    June 6, 2012 9:11 pm

    I have no idea. Ideally someone who is a mix of Aravirta and Summanen.
    Aravirta had a good system and he took care of the mental side of things. He was good at fixing problems: I think he trained certain plays, PP, etc. At the end of his stint, though, he concentrated too much on the extracurriculars.
    I’d really like to see what Summanen can do. He had a good idea (his system). I’d like to see if he had any more of them. He seems like an ideas man and he used to play himself so he can probably connect with the team on that level.

    But yeah, I don’t pay much attention to coaches. I have no idea.

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