A setback, minor or major, hit the Champions Hockey League tournament this 2016-17 season and it had hit the competition already before the first face-off.
Too many teams in the tournament, too many group stages, and too many games with not as much real excitement as there should be.
I decided myself make this season’s Champions Hockey League a low priority and come back for sure when the knockout games appeared, but it was not until the final that I really bothered.
Something tells me that I am and I wasn’t alone in feeling like this.
However, I don’t want to criticize any competition without being backed up by something and Champions League has a lot to work on, no matter how sweet the tournament might be,
The most aching point is the reward for being in these games, and it is not much. Furthermore, most clubs are paying a lot more than they are getting back, except for becoming known among the hockey fans in Europe if they weren’t before.
It is not good for the sport or for the tournament itself when Frölunda HC from Gothenburg, Sweden, who won the Champions Hockey League this season, are saying that they didn’t lose but they didn’t gain anything either except the Cup.
In other words, quite equal between the debits and credits when Frölunda HC checked the economic status after the final game against Sparta Prague.
Perhaps in a way, it’s good news for Frölunda’s organization but not what you really want to hear or learn when you are about to build up a great tournament.
Johan Rylander from Gothenburg’s media, Göteborgs Posten suggested a lower price for the tickets in the Champions Hockey League among other good suggestions, which would be a fair deal I think as well (Use the Google translation for Rylander’s article).
Frölunda HC has grown to a powerhouse the last 5-10 years in Swedish and European Hockey; they won last year as well and now they achieved the Cup again.
Most expected actually as we already knew that they would be one of the major favorites for the title again this time. Maybe even a too obvious a choice for the final.
But, Sparta Prague’s appearance was a nice surprise as well and they probably saved this season’s tournament, even if it was not their intention to do so.
Mostly because it would have been a killer for the Champions Hockey League and so much more uninteresting if Frölunda had met another Swedish squad or a team from the Finnish Liiga.
Sparta Prague showed also that there is great hockey as well in Central Europe, and they were one goal from stealing that title from Frölunda, but as we all saw, Niklas Lasu in Frölunda touched the puck and sent it behind the Sparta goalie in OT.
Another savior for the tournament was the atmosphere in the venue called Frölundaborg. It was tremendous from the fans of both teams, and Sparta had a huge back-up of a crowd from home behind them.
Exactly as a final should be, any final, in any sport.
Well, that’s that and we have to wait and see where this Champions Hockey League will go next season.
I know more than well that building a tournament takes some time, we all know that, but something decisive of a major nature must happen soon, whatever that might be if Champions Hockey League wishes to survive as a tournament.
A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake altogether.
-Roy H. Williams