A lot of coaches, sports leaders, and other very wise people have tossed out the saying “There are no guarantees”. I have done so myself, without considering myself as wise, said that sentence in several and varied situations in sports and life.
Finland U20 won last year the gold medal. Hopes and expectations were therefore of course very high even if the vast majority thought that the team wouldn’t reach the very end as they did last time.
However, the young leijonat proved that there are actually no guarantees for success and I was struck by a deeper understanding that things may change very quickly, which we clearly saw had happened from the last year.
From a gold medal team to a relegation team. And, it was not the first time either that Finland had to play relegation games. Not sure though if Finland is the only country that can hit the absolute top one season but also drop down to the absolute rock bottom as well.
What went wrong and what is wrong?
First of all, a reference to the saying: there are no guarantees.
It is hockey as some say and it is supposed to be the nature of the game that no team or no individual can be an eternal winner or an eternal loser either.
However, in Finland’s case, a lot of things went wrong. It is perhaps hard to point out only one reason as it is not that simple, it’s rather more complex than that.
But I didn’t understand before the tournament and during the tournament what Jukka Rautakorpi and the enormous coaching staff did there, acting as if they were consultants for some city council.
Not saying that Rautakorpi is a bad coach, but he’s not the right person to lead a national team. He has failed majorly before. Hence my question about what he was doing there.
In the bigger picture, it is something for the Finnish HA to deal with, as they are ultimately responsible for the hiring of Rautakorpi. Someone from the HA should have said no to that number of coaches.
No wonder that the players were confused and probably began to think “Who’s in charge here?” while looking at coach numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.
Overall, it was a dear lesson for Finland and Finnish hockey to remain humble for each tournament, as things change, and every tournament is totally a new ball game. What happened at the previous competition is always passed to the history books.
Speaking about changes in the game, a bit of a side-track here:
During the fall SKA seemed to be totally superior in the league and the Western Conference of the KHL. But the latest games have revealed that they are not totally untouchable. So, I wouldn’t announce them as champions yet, far from it actually.
We also know that the Gagarin Cup is a totally another beast compared to the regular season.
The Epic WJC final
There have been reports and interviews here and there about how the quality of the WJC games is low, sometimes really, really bad.
On top, the ticket prices have been way too high for a junior tournament, several hundred Canadian dollars and for seats that are far from the best as well.
That’s a question for the IIHF to deal with.
No matter, it has been a sad part of the tournament in Montréal and Toronto that there have been a lot of empty seats. Not worthy of a big tournament like that, a competition I have myself held as only slightly lower than the Olympic Games.
Empty seats because the tickets are too expensive is not worthy either of a hockey country as we all know Canada is.
Nonetheless, the epic final between Canada and the USA included everything a hockey fan could ask for: everything from great saves to kerfuffles to a fantastic high tempo from the start to the end of the regular time. Not to talk about all the goals.
Also, it gave a deeper conclusion about the game and about the changes I’ve been talking about above. I’ve seen a lot of finals, but this was something new for me.
No one, including me, thought that the USA could come back the first time, and certainly not the second time when they were trailing in the third period.
Of course, it could have gone either way, unnecessary to say, but the USA showed morale and had the cooler heads during the shootouts.
It was a worthy final and USA are worthy champions.
With that said, hockey is a game of its own; everything can change quicker than quick, even during a single game.
I hope myself that I’ve become a bit wiser, to take each tournament as a story of its own. No comparisons at all with the previous, they belong to the history books now for reading only academically.
Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.