2017 IIHF World Juniors -NHL’s future and International Hockey

Chicago, IL — I am still recovering and digesting all of what I saw in what can only be called a spectacular 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Congratulations Team USA you played some extraordinary hockey and it was a thrill watching you.

A lot of people were concerned about USA hockey after the NHL World Cup. I was not one of those people.

Yes I did and still think that team USA for the World Cup was not constructed right but I had no doubts about the grass-roots levels of USA Hockey and that proved to be true.

I have to admit though when Alex Debrincat and Logan Brown were not selected for Team USA I was a bit skeptical again about the construction of this team following the fiasco at the World Cup.

Could Debrincat and Brown have helped Team USA? We will never know but what we do know is team chemistry is everything and we do know this Team USA was constructed well enough to win.

The one thing about USA Hockey I never worry about is the goaltending or defensive structure. It seems no matter who dons that mask for USA be it John Gibson or Tyler Parsons that net is rock solid.

To all the players I have no doubts no matter what NHL teams you play for you will be fun to watch going forward. Being a Chicago Blackhawks fan I’ve got my eyes on you Minnesota Wild.

The Minnesota Wild are getting the top scorer in this tourney Russian Forward Kirill Kaprizov who was just dynamic and a threat every time he was on the ice. He was selected by the Wild in the 5th round in 2015 yes 5th round. So you see there are hidden gems everywhere.

In addition to Kaprizov the Wild are getting Sweden’s forward Joel Erisson EK who had a good tourney himself and from the USA Captain Luke Kunin and Jordan Greenway who could don a Wild jersey now as physically he is fully developed.

The Wild’s future is extremely bright and has got me as a Hawks fan a bit concerned but that said, the Chicago Blackhawks have some gems of their own coming up.

It will be fun to watch this rivalry going forward. Minnesota, you maybe getting players to push you over the hump. Stay tuned.

For all those that do not watch the World Juniors why not?  These players regardless of country are the future of the NHL playing on one of the highest international stages.

Saying that I am very optimistic about the state of International affairs of hockey.

We all knew Teams USA, Canada, Russia and Sweden would be forces to contend with and be Gold medal candidates. What we didn’t know was how other lesser thought of hockey countries have advanced in their programs as well.

Teams Denmark, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Latvia & Slovakia you were a surprise and a thrill as well. Denmark and Czech Republic ended up second and third placing is group B just behind Sweden.

I’m not sure anyone saw that coming with Finland in that group but it just goes to show why you should watch these events as the world is getting smaller and closer together in talent and that is a great thing for the game of hockey.

This year the NHL draft will be in my great city of Chicago and I can’t wait to see some of the players from these teams get drafted. There are a ton on these teams that scouts may want to take a second look at.

Teams Czech Republic, Denmark, Latvia, Slovakia, Switzerland has a ton of undrafted players available and yes even Team Russia has undrafted prospects.

The question has always been could players from those countries that play on big ice translate to the NHL.  Well now those players are playing either in the CHL or in USA college programs NCAA so that is no longer a big concern.

One name that won’t be missed and will go early is Swiss’ Nico Hischier currently playing with the Halifax Mooseheads. That kid is a dynamic stud.

For you Blackhawks fans you might want to keep an eye open for Mathias From of Denmark which the Chicago Blackhawks already drafted. This kid has the potential to become a power forward and I can’t wait to see his development.

Also Alexandre Polunin from Russia reminded me of a junior Artemi Panarin not as dynamic or polished but the skill and will is there for development if he wants to come to North America.

Alexander True who was the captain of team Denmark is another one who is waiting in the bushes for someone. Renars Krastenbergs of Latvia and the list goes on and on. Personally I can’t wait til the 2017 NHL draft.

Also I would like to say thanks to the NHL Network for showing the majority of the games and not just Team USA and Team Canada as every NHL team has prospects from all countries I think it is good to show all the games.

My only suggestions for improving this would be you got to stream games because of time differences and not everyone is by a television. Remember this is watched worldwide or at least you want it to be and honestly you could do more analysis of all of the countries and the NHL’s prospects.

I’d like to see instead of rerunning on The Fly a million times you need more comprehensive programming not just about the NHL but about the prospects of the NHL teams and even the undrafted players to watch, other leagues where prospects are playing,KHL,AHL, CHL, NCAA Etc.

Also why not show Women’s hockey? There are a lot of women’s hockey fans I’d tune in.

The NHL is getting younger and lets not forget your league is the only one of the majors that has a diversity of countries that players come from. I could go on and on about this.

As we saw in both the World Cup with teams Europe and North America and in the IIHF World Juniors with the surprise of Denmark, Swiss and others the hockey world is getting smaller and the entire world is now watching and the interest is there and can grow if nurtured properly.

The World Juniors is only one of these international events viewed by global hockey fans. I can’t think of another one coming up except the 2018 World Juniors.

Oh yeah there is that small event being hosted by South Korea in 2018 that only the entire planet will be watching.

Yes I have an agenda that is to see the NHL players go to the Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Why?

Because as a hockey fan I want to see the best players each country has competing in the game I love on a worldwide stage at the highest level.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said during an interview at the Winter Classic he thought it was a tough sell to the owners and board of governers to shut down the NHL hence making no money for three weeks and he needed a silver bullet to push an approval through.

Well Mr. Bettman I have no silver bullet other than what will the owners do if players decide to go anyway?

Is Pittsburgh or Chicago going to say no to Sidney Crosby or Evegni Malkin or Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane? Alex Olvechkin already stated he is going regardless and can you blame or deny him playing for Russia?

How can you tell players to not play for their countries? I remember when T. J. Oshie kept going in the shoot out with Team USA against Russia at The Sochi Olympics.

I remember seeing all of the USA military stationed abroad watching and cheering? They got a brief welcomed reprieve from the stresses of their duties.

Now perhaps it will be Troy Terry or Oshie again but can you really say no?

Yes you will lose money for three weeks the players are gone and no other professional sports leagues have to endure this, but in the larger picture you maybe gaining so much more.

As the fourth pro sports league in the United States you need to take chances & try harder.

Hockey really does not have a very big foot print in Asia like they do in Europe and North America nor does any other North American professional sports leagues. Now is the perfect time to take that step.

I’m not an idiot and realize financial impacts are a huge consideration but if that can be worked out then NHL the world is your stage. It’s just up to you to take ahold of it and introduce the world to the greatest game and team athletes on the planet.

So Thanks for a great IIHF World Juniors all countries teams and Team USA you made us proud.

NHL I’ll leave you with the following words from a great man who sums up if you should go to the Olympics in South Korea.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston S. Churchill









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