2016 IIHF World Championship Preview


The World Championship is generally the ultimate goal in every international competition regardless of the sport.

In hockey though it has a little more of a complicated relationship with the biggest fans and the best players in the game.

Where the World Championship in other sports is the place where the best of the best go to represent their country in hockey many of the best are missing.

The IIHF is the governing body of international hockey and they are responsible for almost every international hockey tournament in the world.

They even have a say in the Olympic hockey tournament every four years and with that authority, they run the World Championship as the ultimate test.

Yet for North American fans the World Championship is a bit of a foreign concept because there is another tournament going on that means more to them.

That is the NHL playoffs where the best players in the world are looking to take their teams to the Stanley Cup.

In the evolution of the game of hockey, the Stanley Cup has become a bigger prize than almost anything.

The only one that comes close is the Olympic Gold Medal and that is even a debated concept.

So when the World Championship intersects with the pursuit of hockey’s ultimate prize every year it devalues the international prize.

That has brought some interesting thoughts on the world championship as it has gone from the annual test to determine the greatest country in another tournament.

That is especially true when looking at the make-up of NHL teams where the majority of players are from Canada and the USA.

It has widely been seen that the best playoff teams are often full of North American players including some teams with more than half a roster made up of Canadian talent.

Most people well versed in international hockey would agree that Canada is one of the best hockey countries in the world.

It is hard to say that any World Championship hockey team made up of Canadians is truly the best of the best from the country.hockey-sidebar

The best players from the country are often leading their teams in the NHL playoffs rather than travelling to the World Championship.

Even if they are not in the playoffs a full season of NHL hockey can take its toll and flying to Europe to play a compacted tournament might not be the best decision for certain players and their future in the NHL.

It is not limited to Canada though as even European players take a pass on the World Championship to preserve themselves and extend their professional careers.

So that sets up the World Championship in a strange place where it might not be the best of the best facing off against each other.

To many that makes the tournament a pointless exercise but it may, in fact, be a better test than anyone thinks.

If Canada, or any other nation, wants to claim that they are the best hockey country shouldn’t they then have a massive amount of depth?

Yes sometimes the talent is uneven but when Canada or the USA put together their “B-Teams” they are full of NHL talent and top prospects.

That group is still better than most country’s “A-Team” and so they still have a great chance to prove that they are a truly great hockey nation.

This championship may not be best on best but it is a true test of how good a hockey nation can be.

To win this with a team that doesn’t include the best players in the world only proves how good a country is at producing talent.

That is the challenge every year for some of the bigger nations as they enter a new year looking to sit on top of the hockey world as the best country in the world.

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