Friday, May 16, 2008

The tournament for the rich and unemployed.

The World Championships have never been a big deal in Canada. We pay attention, sort of, if there's no NHL game on, I guess. Canada's team is always made of players who have either not made the NHL playoffs, or have been knocked out in the first couple of rounds. The tournament Canada really rallies behind is the World Juniors (under 20) at Christmas-time. The World Junior team on the other hand is made up of young players, most of whom are on the fringe of stardom. Let's not mention that the tournament has never been played on Canadian soil. Right down to the major sponsor (Skoda) the tournament is a European thing.

But if there was to be made inroads with the tournament on Canadian soil it was not to be done this year. I'm not one to criticize Hockey Canada, I think they do a fantastic job with grassroots, right up to the top. I've also had the luck of being able to witness the World Junior tournament in person when it was hosted in Halifax in 2003 and in Sweden in 2007. So I feel pretty confident in saying that this tournament was not fan friendly. It was pretty much anti-fan.

1. Game times. ALL of Canada's games were at 4:30pm local time. Listen, I know this is a long running joke, and perhaps the nice people at Hockey Canada can claim ignorance since they're based in Calgary. But people in Halifax have JOBS. I have a job, my friends have jobs, and 4:30pm on a weekday is not exactly an ideal time to go for a few pops at the Split Crow and hit up a hockey game.

2. Two Cities. Splitting the games between two cities is fine. It usually has to be done to accommodate two pools. However, splitting them between two cities in two different provinces that are extremely far apart is stupid. Google Maps tells me it's about a 10 hour drive from Halifax to Quebec City (and I don't think that Google Maps takes into account the side of the road panic attacks caused from driving through Quebec.) Why not just fly? Well, currently Westjet doesn't even fly from Halifax to Quebec, so you're stuck with Air Canada (goodbye luggage) and goodbye $659.14. That's on top of the ridiculous amount of money you would've dropped on tickets. More on that in a second.

3. Ticket Prices. A ticket package in Halifax ran you about $900. And this did not give you any medal games (past the quaterfinals). If you bought the package in Quebec, you get a POSSIBLE two Canada games (which depended on if Canada made it there).

4. Too many teams. Holy Phil Esposito. There are four pools in the World Championships, each with four teams. I love the Latvians, they were fun people to hang out with. The Slovenians were really crazy too. And I feel bad about this point... but it's one that needs to be said. Those countries are not very good at hockey. It's pretty damn hard to get up for a game against Slovenia (or Latvia... or France...or Italy).

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