What’s the best hockey-football nation in the world? Oooh, the Germans!

Ken Campbell
German team

When Germany won the World Cup last weekend, it vaulted the country to the top of FIFA’s most recent world rankings. It also made Germany the best hockey-football playing country in the world.

Nothing defines a country’s athletic prowess more than its ability to excel in both soccer and hockey. (Why, you ask? Because we said so and it’s summer and in case you haven’t noticed, the hockey world is not exactly brimming with activity these days.) One is known as The Beautiful Game™ and the other one features corner kicks and lots of falling down and gnashing of teeth. Read more

Tom Renney faces huge challenges at Hockey Canada

Tom Renney

When Bob Nicholson took over as president and CEO of Hockey Canada in 1998, few people outside the hockey industry knew who he was. Over the next 16 years, Nicholson went on to create a corporate monolith that generated millions of dollars in revenues and won countless gold medals on the international stage.

That will be an enormously difficult act to follow. That the board of Hockey Canada has reportedly handpicked Tom Renney to do it is, well, a little curious. Renney is a man of enormous integrity and has a coaching resume – particularly in the international game – that would rival that of anyone in the world. But this is the thing. Hockey Canada is not a hockey team. For the purposes of the president and CEO, Hockey Canada is far more a business than it is a hockey organization. Read more

Ask Adam: trading Jason Spezza and Mike Green; amnesty buyouts; and national pride

Mike Green

After an unexpected absence, THN’s online mailbag is back, and better than ever. Well, maybe just back. Thanks to all who submitted a question.

Hi Adam,

Now that Jason Spezza has requested a trade from Ottawa, and that GM Bryan Murray said “I know I won’t get the value, in all likelihood, that I should get for him”, what will it take to acquire him?
Niclas Emanuelsson, Säffle, Sweden

Hi Niclas,

Although Spezza is still a valuable NHLer, you’re not looking at an Eric Lindros-to-the-Flyers-type trade package to land him. Spezza just turned 31 and is in the last year of his contract, so any team that acquires him won’t be ponying up draft picks, prospects and NHL-ready young players.

Murray surrendered one of each of those to acquire Bobby Ryan from Anaheim last summer, but if he can get two of those three components (depending, of course, on the prospects and/or players and/or picks involved) for his captain, he’ll be satisfied and pull the trigger on a trade. As you said, Murray already has acknowledged he’s not going to get equal value for Spezza – that’s always the case when a player’s trade request goes public – so the best he can hope for is to create a bidding war (preferably, among Western Conference teams) and drive up the price as best he can. Read more

Woeful Oilers land big off-ice free agent in Nicholson

Nicholson

NEW YORK – When Bob Nicholson stepped down as president and CEO of Hockey Canada in May, he made it clear he was looking for another challenge. Well, if that was his desire, he certainly found one. And while the Edmonton Oilers have had all kinds of trouble attracting big free agents for their on-ice product, they appear to have succeeded in landing the most prized free agent hockey executive in the world.

A TSN report has been confirmed by thn.com that the Oilers have a news conference scheduled for Friday in which they are expected to announce that Nicholson has been hired to be CEO of Rexall Sports, which owns the Edmonton Oilers. As first reported on Twitter by thn.com Wednesday night, Nicholson chose the Oilers over offers from the Washington Capitals and Vancouver Canucks. It’s believed the Capitals offered the most money, but the challenge of being a part of rebuilding the Oilers on the ice appealed to Nicholson. Read more

Players will have to save NHL Olympic participation

Ken Campbell
Olympics

LOS ANGELES – It looks increasingly as though the future of NHL participation in the Olympics will depend on how much extra hockey the best players in the world will be prepared to play.

That’s because the NHL will – repeat, will – hold a World Cup of Hockey in 2016 and beyond. The tournament is going to happen and it’s not going to be a one-off the way it was in 2004. It has gone way beyond the conceptual stage and with the league and NHL Players’ Association meeting on it last week and again this week to put the finishing touches on the agreement, it is now a matter of what form it’s going to take, not whether it’s going to happen.

And what does that mean for the future of Olympic participation? Well, we know the owners hate the Olympics and want to end sending their best players there and having them exposed to injury. The players, meanwhile, want to play and the leadership of the association sees a lot of value in continuing to go to the Olympics to grow the game on a global level – with or without the World Cup. Read more

Jaromir Jagr ends a quarter century of international greatness

Jagr-2

Two of the greatest careers in international hockey ended this season. One of them, Teemu Selanne’s, went out in a blaze of glory with a goal in Finland’s bronze medal win in the Sochi Olympics. The other, Jaromir Jagr’s, ended with a loss and no points in the bronze medal game of the World Championship amid complaints about the refereeing in the tournament.

But When Jagr announced his retirement from international play after the Czech Republic’s 3-0 loss to Sweden Sunday, it marked the end of a career that spanned a quarter of a century and – with all due respect to Dominik Hasek, Jiri Bubla and Robert Reichel – was the best in that country’s history. Once again, Jagr answered the call for his country and like so many times before, he led the Czechs offensively. Read more

Russia wins 2014 World Championship as Vladimir Putin looks on and conspiracy theorists have a field day

IHOCKEY-WORLD-RUS-FIN

At some point during the IIHF World Championship final, the Finnish media paid at least as much attention to the people in two luxury boxes as to the action on the ice.

In one, there was Oleg Znarok, Russia’s coach who had been suspended after he made a cut-throat gesture to Sweden’s assistant coach Rikard Gronborg (who yelled back that he would bleeping kill him), but who was in radio contact with his assistant Harijs Vitolins behind the Russian bench.

In the other, there were Russian president Vladimir Putin and IIHF president Rene Fasel, watching the game together – enough for some to scheme up all kinds of conspiracy theories.

Read more

Switzerland goes in on 2-on-0, crashes into empty net

Rory Boylen
Switzerland screen cap

Switzerland and Latvia played an important World Championship game Tuesday. The Latvians, after a difficult loss to Belarus Monday night, needed a win to move on to the quarterfinal round. The Swiss, meanwhile, were looking to avenge a shocking loss they suffered to Latvia in the qualification round at the Olympics.

With a little more than a minute left in the third, Switzerland led 3-2, so when the Swiss broke up the Latvians at the blueline and rushed in on an empty net with a two-on-none, the game was about to be put away.

Or so it seemed. Read more