I stopped by for some Olympic chat on this weeks A View From The Bridge podcast – the official podcast of the Belfast Giants.
Along with regular hosts Patrick and Davy, and guest presenter Joel Neil, we talked about the tournament as a whole, the success of smaller nations like Latvia and Slovenia and whether Great Britain could ever emulate it, as well as sharing some thoughts on Nicklas Backstrom’s failed drug test and give a stick tap to Mikael Granlund for his efforts in Sochi.
The guys also cover Belfast’s games against Coventry last weekend, the Championship banner raising ceremony and look ahead to the Challenge Cup Final clash with Nottingham.
The NHL returns to action tonight, as Buffalo hosts Carolina.
It’s hardly the most ground breaking fixture with which to welcome ‘The Show’ back in to our lives (not that it ever went away…); but none the less there are plenty of people who are delighted to see things fired up again in North America.
The debate over player participation in 2018 has already begun (I fired off my take on it yesterday), but the wider impact of the NHLPA’s finest heading to Sochi may not truly be realised for several months.
Here I look at some of the potential stories the 22nd Winter Olympics will have played their part in:
With Sochi already something of a distant memory, as teams gear up for the return to NHL action this week, the debate has already begun of whether the NHL, and its players, will participate in the 2018 games in Pyeongchang.
The obstacles to participation are not new; if anything there is now the additional ‘con’ that fewer players will be interested in going to Korea than they were Russia. But in my view the NHL should, nay must, let its players travel in four years time.
Simply put – it’s their responsibility to do so.
Today’s gold medal clash between Canada and Sweden marks the end of a fortnight’s worth of international hockey on our TV screens.
The BBC has shown every game, or as damned near as, on one format or another. That’s EVERY game from the men’s and women’s tournament.
Apparently showing 52 games isn’t good enough for some though.
Bob Ballard, who has been working for the Olympic Broadcast Service in Sochi, joins me to look back at the men’s and women’s tournaments at the 2014 Olympics.
As well as talking about today’s bronze medal game and previewing the gold showdown tomorrow between Canada and Sweden, we also talked about:
- Russia’s meltdown
- The decline of Czech and Slovak hockey
- Slovenia and Latvia’s success in Sochi
- Disappointment with the Swiss
- The women’s tournament
- Emerging stars in the women’s game
- And whether Team GB’s womens team could qualify for future Olympics
Don’t forget, you can also ‘like’ One Puck Short on Facebook
Thanks to Bob for joining me. You can follow him on Twitter @BobBallardSport.
For many, Russia’s defeat to Finland in today’s quarter final matchup was a shock.
It’s understandable why people see it that way – the Finns were absent their top three centres and the hosts were one of the favourites in Sochi.
But the Scandinavian’s habit of getting it done on the international stage once again shone through, whilst Russian played like a side built around individual talents.
The Finns demonstrated perfectly that a team first ethos (combined with a good goalie) will trump raw skill more often than not. Sadly for some, it was Russia’s defeat and not a victory for an opposing team, playing like a team, in a sport which so often preaches the virtues of ‘the name on the front of the shirt, not the back’.
No, it became an opportunity to make snide remarks and snarky comments about Russian hockey and the KHL…
It’s not unusual to see new talent emerge on the biggest stage. Names seldom mentioned outside of an athlete’s own nation suddenly become stars courtesy of the Olympics.
We saw it in London, we’re seeing it in Sochi. And the men’s, and women’s, hockey tournaments have had their own share of success stories over the past 10 days. These are my personal favourites; so far at least!