Hockey is supposed to be Canada’s sport. The National Hockey League thrives on its success in Canada as Canadians will tell you that hockey is one of the many things that make the country unite.
Going months without the NHL in the summer can be difficult for some people, mostly the hard core hockey fans. Yet before the NHL season even begins there’s hockey on our television. But does anyone really care?
The World Cup of Hockey tournaments began on September 17. Rogers Sportsnet, the broadcasting channel of the tournament, has been selling it as if it’s the do or die of all hockey tournaments to determine which country is the best ever.
The Sportsnet commercial, which seems to have been playing for months now, asks the question: “who owns hockey?”
The tournament includes some of the world’s top hockey countries. The obvious Canadians and Americans along with Russia, Sweden, Finland and Czech Republic. To make the tournament more entertaining they added a North American team that is a combination of Canadian and American players, as well as a European team that combines players from all over Europe.
It’s kind of a funny situation. Ahead of North American’s first game versus Finland the crowd was asked to stand for both the Canadian and American anthems as they needed to represent both countries from that continent. There were a few chuckles from the crowd, but what stood out was that the Finland crowd was much louder when their anthem played compared to when the Canadian or American anthem played.
Of course that doesn’t determine who owns hockey and it certainly doesn’t make a case that Canadians and Americans don’t care about the tournament, but really, a majority don’t.
However, outside the NHL season, the World Juniors, the Olympics and possibly the IIHF World Championship, there’s not enough interest in other tournaments.
Don’t get me wrong, the above-average Canadian hockey fan is dialed into the World Cup. The average hockey fan, who is there for the World Juniors and Olympics, isn’t exactly there to watch the World Cup.
Toronto’s Air Canada Centre is hosting the tournament, and it’s pretty cheap to get in. On Twitter people were talking about how they were getting into the game for $12.50 – for lower bowl seats. The average ticket price for a Toronto Maple Leafs game, the NHL team that plays in the ACC, is around $130 Canadian – that includes the upper bowl.
So if you live near Toronto, the World Cup of Hockey is your one chance to watch NHL players in the ACC. But what tickets at $12.50 means is that the World Cup is just trying to fill the stadium so it looks like people care.
Who owns hockey? The argument can be made that Canada, America, Russia, Finland and Sweden are the top five teams in the world, but the World Cup of Hockey won’t be the tournament to answer the question.
This tournament is keeping the major hockey fans sane, as they wait on the NHL season. But what this tournament doesn’t do is bring a country together like the other tournaments.
Maybe this tournament will answer who owns hockey. But maybe not. One things for sure, the multiple months of advertising and playing the same commercial over and over again didn’t seem to catch the interest of many people.