Fun With Olympic Entries
The Winter Olympics in 2014 will obviously be held in Sochi, Russia. But whether NHL players will be a part of the festivities remains to be seen.
The International Ice Hockey Federation has received entry applications from 33 nations for the tournament. The top ranked will get a direct entry, while the others will have to qualify.
Off the top of my head I can come up with Canada, USA, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, and Switzerland as basic mainstays in the tournament the past few Olympics. Nations like Belarus, Norway and and Latvia have always been at the cutting edge and usually get creamed by powerhouse teams stacked with NHL talent.
When I looked at the bottom of this list, I wondered aloud why the heck these countries would even think it is remotely possible to get into the tournament. Sure, the revenue from the event helps, but what's the point of going if you ultimately get smacked around by a nation with 500 times the hockey talent.
Remember when you played NHL 2000 as a kid and played Team Belgium as the North American All Stars and beat them 26-0? The following teams might actually fare the same way in the Olympics.
The best finish stat is since NHL players competed in the Olympics in 1998. Here are the top ten weirdest/no chance entries to the Olympic hockey tournament in 2014:
You'd think with Quebec churning out NHL prospects that France would actually have something to offer. Well, not really. The 2010 roster included studs like Yorick Treille, Laurent Gras and Erwan Pain. There are two players on the team that has NHL experience. One is Cristobal Huet. Nothing to hang your hat on here. The only current NHLer is Stephane Da Costa of the Ottawa Senators. Sacre bleu!
BEST FINISH: 11th
9. Great Britain
The Brits are clearly not made for hockey. Maybe field hockey because they're at home on the 'footballing pitch" but not the ice rink. We have Phil Hill, Matthew Myers, David Longstaff and Greg Owen on the team, though. Is Owen Nolan available?
BEST FINISH: DNQ (actually won gold in 1936 because of Canadians playing for them during World War II)
We can rest our laurels on the best goalie name to ever grace the back of a hockey jersey: Yutaka Fukufuji. The Kings gave up on him after four games and an amazingly bad 4.37 GAA and 0.837 save percentage. If he's their best player...how the heck do they stand a chance? The thing is Japan has actually beaten and tied Canada three times each in international play - except they lost the other 34 games by a score of 218-76.
BEST FINISH: 13th
There is a lot of 'Z's' and 'Ski's' on the Polish squad, including Krzysztof Zborowski, Kamil Kosowski, Pawel Skrzypkowski and Leszek Laszkiewicz. That is an announcer's nightmare and therefore Poland should either be automatically disqualified or given hilarious names instead of their real ones. Or keep it like the old video games and announce the numbers. Either way, Poland is getting owned by any team they play. Funny enough, there are only two notable alumni; Krzysztof Oliwa and Mariusz Czerkawski.
BEST FINISH: DNQ
Correct me if I'm wrong, but where is there ice in Spain? One of my friends contacted the Irish National team when he got his citizenship and wanted to try out as a goalie, and he informed me that Ireland just moved into their first indoor rink. Wait...what? Then how the heck does Spain have a rink? Imagine their Winter Classic outside in the blasting heat of the sun and the sand all over. I think I'm thinking of where the Panthers play, never mind. No notable alumni, just a lot of Pablo's, Alejandro's, Giullermo's and Diego's.
BEST FINISH: N/A
Korea isn't a country. I know this to be true, because everything on Wikipedia is 100% accurate. There's a North and South Korea, right? So which one is it? Regardless, I don't really care too much, because can you imagine the Koreans handing the Canadians an upset at the hands of Richard Park? I can't. But really, this could be a good thing. Putting North and South together might bring a divided nation together, undoing the Korean Civil War of 1950 and in the process having a low grade motion picture come out of it. Starring Richard Park. Everyone wins. Then again they beat Thailand in a U-18 game 92-0. Jerks.
BEST FINISH: South Korea: 25th
Kazakhstan actually has a decent team, but nothing that is going to scare anybody. The funny thing here is that the only player on the team is Nik Antropov of the Winnipeg Jets. Imagine him floating around out there and being the go to guy on a team again like he was with the Leafs. Did that happen or no? Or he'll be wondering what the hell he's doing on a sad sack team like Kazakhstan and try and get onto the Russian team because his last name ends in "OV." Also, insert Borat joke here.
BEST FINISH: 8th
Like Spain, where the heck is the ice and who is paying for the rink being built. Shouldn't something be done about their economy before worrying about Olympic hockey glory? Is that 32nd place finish really going to matter that much? They actually have four players from North America; two each from Canada and USA, so there might be hope. They probably did it for the story, just because when you tell someone that you play for Israel's national men's hockey team, the only reaction that takes place is, "Wait, what? For real?" It'll make for some good stories, that's for sure. One positive; I would definitely get one of their jerseys. So cool!
BEST FINISH: 28th
I love the idea of having Mexico at the Olympics. Screw hot dogs and beer, let's get some tacos and tequila! For real though, the Mexicans only took players from four teams; Zapotec Totems, Aztec Eagle Warriors, Teotihuacan Priests and Mayan Astronomers. I assume these are the only functional teams in the entire country. I think this is the weirdest one because if you really think about it, Mexico borders USA and isn't that far from Canada, either. Despite the warm climate, couldn't they get along ok? Dallas and Phoenix do (well okay Dallas then) and they're in a desert as well. So is that an excuse to not produce any hockey talent? I guess so, so we'll all have to pretend Raffi Torres is Mexican (he's of Peruvian descent and from Canada). Also, are they celebrating a championship in that picture? Strange.
BEST FINISH: 32nd
This is the double take moment. Let's Google this country, shall we? It says it's by Serbia and Croatia, and seeing that the Serbs and Croats both applied for the Olympics, why not Bosnia and Herzegovina? Also, why the two names? Isn't one good enough? We know these guys are not good at all. Wikipedia had links to all the players on the other nine teams I listed, but for these guys they had them in italics! They aren't link worthy! So how can they be Olympic worthy. The cherry on top is their National record; 0-1. A 10-1 loss to Greece. Greece; who isn't even applying for the Olympics kicked your rear end by nine. Why isn't Greece applying, didn't they invent the Olympics?
BEST FINISH: They never started/finished
So there you have it. Ten nations that you could put all the bets players together and Canada would still win by thirty. But not if Yutaka Fukufuji has anything to say about it.
Get pumped for Sochi, 2014; where the all stars play!