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Why is the World Juniors the most entertaining hockey tournament of all?



While the IIHF, the NHL, the KHL, and the other hockey associations are arguing as usual about how to form and make new deals or set up new leagues, the juniors are preparing themselves for a new exciting World Juniors.

Before I continue with the juniors, I have to emphasize that the hockey world won’t change a bit until we have more sincere discussions about how to evolve.

As it is now, it is all about “What I want and what I get” talks and that is not going to lead anywhere; on the contrary, it is waste of time and a dead-end dialogue.

René Fasel, the chairman of the IIHF organization, seemed to be a bit desperate when he suggested that Finland and Sweden, for example, should have a mutual league.

And, that is just one of the consequences of not having a serious discussion between each other; when we try to shoot the puck with a blindfold and hope it will hit the target, it is just blah, blah, and blah.

In a longer run, it affects also the senior tournaments, if it is just for keeping up something that doesn’t really work: for example, the Olympic tournament in Pyongyang is saved by the KHL, but that’s just a stop-gap, nothing else.

So, in the end, the only hockey tournament worth following and watching is the World Junior Championship that takes place every year this time of the year, from the end of the December to the beginning of January.

But it is not only because of all the things I mentioned above, it is mostly because of the game on the ice itself, how it is performed and the excitement it brings.

The hockey that is presented is at a higher level than most regular league teams in Europe can perform on the ice.  These young prospects are already as fully pro as they can get even if they have still a lot of experience to catch up on.

Furthermore, it is a more open tournament and you can’t say for sure who is going to win even if the top nations are Canada, USA, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Czech Republic, and Switzerland.

And, even if you had a good year, the next might be a true thriller and a fight to remain in the top division – that’s how tough is it.

This year, the host is Buffalo and Orchard Park outside of Buffalo, and we have Canada, USA, Slovakia, Denmark and Finland in Group A.

My spontaneous thought is that Finland, Denmark and Slovakia will battle for places 3 and 4.

But in Finland’s case, it will be very interesting to see Eeli Tolvanen who has been one of the most outstanding rookies this year in the KHL.

In group B we’ll have following: Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Czechia, and Belarus.

If nothing really odd and peculiar happens, we will have those four first-mentioned teams in the quarterfinal.

In general, when it comes to the World Juniors, it is fantastic hockey entertainment as it always should be, and it doesn’t really matter who wins even if even I have my faves.  I just want to see great and exciting hockey, that’s all.

So, René Fasel & Co., you have indeed something to think about when you look at the senior level and the tournaments there.

I’m leaving the game of hockey with nothing but great memories.

-Joe Sakic, former Canadian hockey player born 1969.


I wish you, my dear reader, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Take care of each other out there.

I’ll be back after the World Juniors.

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Arto Palovaara, Sunday Chronicler for Sports Rants Europe. Previously, he contributed for the betting company Betsafe, Svenska fans, Get real hockey and Ice nation UK. He is also an educated archaeologist and life coach who loves literature and history. Not to forget: probably he is the only sportswriter that plays the banjo.


Flyers Remove Statue of Kate Smith



The Philadelphia Flyers have joined the New York Yankees in the removal of ties to singer Kate Smith, whose famous rendition of “God Bless America” was played at both Flyers and Yankees games.

Earlier this week, the Yankees decided to suspend the use of Smith’s rendition, which was played during the seventh-inning stretch, while they investigated allegations of racism against the later singer.

According to a report from the New York Daily News, there are conflicting claims about Smith’s 1939 song “That’s Why Darkies Were Born” which
originated in the 1931 Broadway revue “George White’s Scandals” and was considered satire but includes racist language, including the line;
“Someone had to pick the cotton. … That’s why darkies were born.”

The song was recorded by Smith and Paul Robeson, who was black.

The Flyers put out the following statement on Sunday (h/t ESPN):

“The Flyers have enjoyed a long and popular relationship with ‘God Bless America,’ as performed by the late Kate Smith, a woman who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor for her patriotic contributions to our nation.

“But in recent days, we learned that several of the songs Kate Smith performed in the 1930s include lyrics and sentiments that are incompatible with the values of our organization, and evoke painful and unacceptable themes.”

Smith, who was popular during the WWII era, recorded the offensive jingle, “Pickaninny Heaven,” which she directed at “colored children” who should fantasize about an amazing place with “great big watermelons,” among various other treats. 

Smith also endorsed the “Mammy Doll” back in 1939 which was based on a racist caricature of a black woman similar to Aunt Jemima.

“The Yankees have been made aware of a recording that had been previously unknown to us and decided to immediately and carefully review this new information,” a club spokesman said. “The Yankees take social, racial and cultural insensitivities very seriously. And while no final conclusions have been made, we are erring on the side of sensitivity.”

The odds aren’t good that Smith’s songs will return to their prominent places during sporting events such as they were with the Yankees and the Flyers.

There is a lot of cleaning up to do when it comes to racism in sports, and weeding out songs attached to artists with questionable, and controversial, backgrounds such as Smith’s, is important in pushing forward towards the future.

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The New World of Sports Betting in the United States



Earlier this year a monumental breakthrough was achieved when the United States Supreme Court ruled against the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, known as PASPA, allowing each state in the nation to decide if it wants to allows legal sports betting or not.

That led the nation, and all of the states, on a new path, with a lot of lucrative opportunities in an industry that has operated underground for decades.

With casinos and eSports thriving, sports betting adds a brand new element to the gambling industry and presents one of the richest outlets for businesses, the government, and the nation.

There will likely be a boost in employment rates, a growth spike in business, and an influx of money that no longer has to be hidden from the eyes of the government.

As of now, a number of states have already started their journey, and another, Utah, has decided not to act on the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of sports betting, opting to maintain their stance on forbidding sports betting, at least for the time being.

As the world of sports, eSports, and gambling embark on this industry shifting journey, let’s take a deeper look at what has been going down so far, and what is in store for the sports betting industry, thanks to an info graphic from

The info graphic will take a look into the impact that sports betting legalization is expected to make on the nation’s economy.

The info graphic takes into account that the United States’ gambling industry already generates around $28 billion. The legalization of ports betting legalization is expected to increase tat number dramatically.

Additionally, sports betting operations will also result in a higher number of jobs, and the info graphic will provide you with an estimated number of both direct and indirect jobs that will open with the introduction of sports betting.

As the fantasy football season is ready to kick off for many of you, we should start seeing a lot of changes to the sports betting landscape and it will be interesting to see just how companies in fantasy sports navigate through the implementation of these changes.

The future of the sports betting industry seems bright, and there seems to be quite the trickle down effect that will have an immediate benefit to numerous industries.

Whether you’re ready or not, legalized sports betting is on the way, if it hasn’t arrived in your state already, and big things are on the horizon.


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Capitals owner Ted Leonsis Pays for 200 Employees to go to Stanley Cup Final Games



Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis is celebrating the team’s first trip to the Stanley Cup Final for the 1st time in 20 years in a special way.

According to the Washington Post, Leonsis surprised 200 employees of Monumental Sports & Entertainment with tickets and a chartered flight to Vegas for the first leg of the Stanley Cup Final.

The employees were chosen based off how closely they work with the Capitals, as well as seniority, and they received an email last week from a senior VP that had the subject line: “Let’s go to Vegas.”

The selected employees received tickets to Games 1 & 2.

“It’s truly amazing and out of this world,” Omar Castro, a guest relations manager, said.

“I never expected an owner of the company to do this. We get to share in this with them. … He’s thinking of us as part of a family, as part of the experience. There’s no reason for him to do it. All I can say is a big thanks to Ted and his family for the opportunity, and for truly making this into something memorable for all of us here in the company.”

Not only did Leonsis provide tickets, but he also organized two chartered flights and is putting the employees up at the Excalibur.


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