BY: Jeff Schneberk
As if we need anything else on the television screen to focus our attention on at this time of year. Let us count the things: World Junior hockey, NHL hockey, NFL season is in its final week, then playoffs; US college football playoffs with games almost every day, NBA for the basketball fans, and perhaps the most overlooked game on TV now and always, the Spengler Cup. The what?
Most sitcoms and Christmas movies no longer stand a chance anymore.
Most people in Canada will be glued to their television sets this Christmas season watching Team Canada at the World Juniors in Malmo, Sweden and threatening anyone who might even contemplate grabbing the remote and changing channels.
I’m sure some people will spend as much time as possible watching Spengler Cup too, I just don’t know any of them. It took a long walk through a busy mall in Hamilton on the craziest day of the year (Boxing Day), at the most wonderful time of year (Christmas), for me to take a few minutes and take in some action from the one tournament that not too many people ever talk about.
Thank you Sears.
If it wasn’t for the good people at The Sports Network, I wouldn’t even know who is playing. Up until 10 minutes ago I still didn’t have a clue.
The Spengler Cup sounds like equestrian, or something.
It doesn’t sound like hockey, until you start hearing the names of some of the players in it.
The Rochester Americans of the AHL are in it right now.
Team Canada is in it. Several of their players are former NHLers. They used to be captained by Ryan Smyth.
It is held out in Davos, Switzerland. Been held almost every year since 1923.
Supposedly it is the oldest invitational hockey tournament in the world, and for the last 30 years Canada has been invited.
On first glance of watching one of these games, you see these guys skating around in jerseys that have more ads on them then a traditional European soccer league. It’s the one thing I hate about it, the ads make it hard to figure out who the hell is playing! It makes it confusing.
This is not your usual Team Canada. You will not hear anything anywhere about these teams having tryouts or practices, or selection camps, like we do for the Olympics.
One last thing, I played in the Perogy Cup in Yorkton, Saskatchewan two winters ago, and this tournament reminds me of that, only none of us have every been pros in any way shape or form. I just thought of that now haha.
The one other similarity between these tournaments that nobody claims they ever watch them.
They are made up of a bunch of guys that love playing hockey.
What you will see in the Spengler Cup however, are a bunch of Canadian hockey players playing the game that they love professionally in European hockey leagues. Many of the players play in the National League A, which is the top league in Switzerland. And while they aren’t bonafide NHL stars, many of them have had a cup of coffee in the world’s greatest hockey league. Players such as Rico Fata, Glen Metropolit, have all represented Canada at the Spengler Cup over the years. Alexandre Daigle was there one year too, quite possibly the biggest first overall bust in the history of the NHL, has played in the Spengler Cup.
Another reason to watch the Spengler Cup is because of the fans. Even though you’ll be at home watching the game you can’t help but get caught up in the atmosphere of the event. The fans at the tournament might just be the best hockey fans anywhere. They jump up, sing, dance and bang drums all throughout each game regardless as to who is winning. It’s like watching playoff hockey on the prairies when crazy farmer hockey fans bring those annoying-as-hell cowbells to games and if they find reason to shake ‘em you better cover your ears.
The 2014 edition will see Team Canada looking to win its 13th Spengler Cup in 30 years. And they’ll try to do so as the defending champions. That in itself should be enough incentive to watch the Spengler Cup.
But if that doesn’t do it for you, perhaps this will. Canada and HC Davos have a rivalry. A huge rivalry.
You see, before Team Canada was invited, Davos, the host team at the Spengler Cup, were dominant to the tune of 15 titles; the most of any team. But since Canada has been there HC Davos has won just five Spengler Cups. They’ve also lost out in the final, to Canada, five different times (1996, 1998, 2002, 2003 and most recently in 2012). And boy, are they angry at us for that! And low and behold, Team Canada is once again in the same group (Cattini) as Davos.
So do yourself a favour. When you’re watching Team Canada slaughter teams like Germany at the World Juniors just grab the remote, hit the guide button, search until you see Spengler Cup on the television and watch it. The next game for Team Canada is later tonight (Saturday) when they play the hosts.
ANOTHER HOLIDAY TRADITION?
You might just find you have a new favourite hockey tournament during Christmas. And the best part is, it’s over before the World Juniors begin the playoff rounds, so you can watch the important games there as well!
Here is a starting point, a link to their web site:
Teams that are playing include:
-HC Davos (host), their logo resembles something that looks Swedish, blue background with yellow letters.
-CSKA Moskau, logo is a red star with the letters U, C, K, A on the bottom, they are one of the most famous hockey teams in the world.
–the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League will compete at this year’s Spengler Cup for only the second time since 1996. The Americans, traditional referred to as the ‘Amerks’ also happen to boast the likes of Patrick Roy’s son Jonathan, on their roster. Jonathan was kicked out of the Amerk’s game last night for raising some hell with the other team. Good boy Jonathan. Your father has taught you well.
-no hockey tournament is complete without the likes of Team Canada. Team Canada will celebrate its 3oth anniversary at the Spengler Cup at this year’s tournament. Former Nashville Predator goaltender Chris Mason is among Canada’s goalies at the tournament this year.
–HC Vitkovice Steel: Vitkovice is a district of Ostrava, the third largest city in the Czech Republic. Only the steel mills of the city have a longer history than the club that was founded in 1928.
–Geneve-Servette: the tournament’s second Swiss team.
Geneve-Servette, CSKA Moskau and the Rochester Americans make up the Group Torriani.
HC Davos, Team Canada and HC Kitkovice Steel make up the Group Cattani.
Here is a link to the stats and standings page for the Spengler Cup on tsn.ca