So, I hate the IIHF, which stands for the International Ice Hockey Federation if you’re wondering (or possibly International House of Pancakes if your typing is less than stellar). I really do. A portion of the hatred stems directly from its leader, Rene Fasel, who, among other things, has spoiled the moustache for everyone.
It also has a little something to do with the Federation’s addiction to decals. They’ll plaster a logo anywhere (What the hell is Zeptor, anyway? A sports drink? A GPS? The Scandinavian equivalent to Viagra?) and whore themselves out to whomever is willing to pay whatever the going rate is.
Buying commercial space in an IIHF event is like shopping for cuts of meat.
How much for a thigh? And what’s the rump going for these days?
Lately my ire is centered around the latest in big international hockey events, the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Somehow the IIHF maintains control over this puppy even though the whole affair would have the aggregate appeal of lawn bowling if not for the involvement of the NHL and its players.
The IIHF acts like that snot-nose kid on the block who only gets to play quarterback because he owns the football. It’s their decisions on their terms and right now it’s about each of the 12 competing countries announcing their Olympic hockey rosters.
For nine glorious days leading up to the new year, the hockey world will watch the growing parade of nations as each team’s roster is made public.
It started with Belarus announcement on the 23rd of December and continued with Russia on the 25th. Evidently the hockey world needs a full two days to ingest the shock of the Belarusian choices (criteria: if you have skates, you’re on the team) and the Russians aren’t allotted the luxury of not working Christmas.
Sweden was given its own day on the 27th, the reasoning being either the Swedes’ love for the unfettered limelight (see ABBA; Ace of Base) or their desire to cast the softest ecological footprint by holding only one (hydrogen-fuelled) press conference that day.
And now we’ve reach the 29th of the month – six days into the process – and we’ve named but three “competing” teams (yeah, Belarus, you heard me), which means we have two days to wrap this whole thing up before people get distracted thinking about bigger things like New Year’s resolutions and public intoxication.
To make matters worse, the 29th is the day Latvia submits its roster, Slovakia submits it roster and Norway casually lists submits its roster. If only I got Oslo talk radio.
This leaves us two projected final days to wrap this part of the program up. It feels a little like Ishtar: rushed and way over budget. In the course of one frenzied day the Czechs, Germans, Swiss and Finns will announce their provisional rosters; four countries fighting over airtime in the same time zone (although the Swiss find the “fighting” reference a bit harsh and frankly offensive).
And, of course, this is also the day Canada will name its team with a parade; fireworks; 16 hours of television coverage (citizens be warned: all traffic lights are set to “amber” that day); a suspension of parliament and a group hug of 34 million (curiously not a world record; damn you, Oprah).
The whole roster dealy thing culminates on Jan. 1st with the announcement of the U.S. roster sometime during the NHL Winter Classic being held at Boston’s Fenway Park (I’m guessing third inning). At first it seems rather arbitrary until you realize the head of the IIHF is a huge fan of the Flyers (he’s been told he looks like Orest Kindrachuk) and is also apparently very big on bratwurst.
Always about you isn’t it Rene…
Charlie Teljeur, creator of THN's hockeysockpuppettheatre cartoon, brings you the humor column Loose Change every Tuesday. Subscribe to The Hockey News today to have Charlie's cartoon delivered to you in each issue.
Want to talk to Charlie about love, life, or Loose Change? Check out his website at charlieteljeur.com.
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