Monday, February 13, 2006

Women's Game Not Quite Ready

Canada blows Italy away with a 16-0 score while the United States wins their games easily 6-0 and 5-0. It makes me wonder if women’s hockey is ready on the world stage.

Looking at the recent Olympic Games feature women’s ice hockey for only the third time still sees no improvement from other nations to make the tournament competitive. Many blame countries other than the USA and Canada for not starting girls young enough in the sport. Others say that money is the biggest obstacle many nations face.

But with just two teams playing for gold, is it worth to have these nations embarrassed by eleven to nothing scores? It seems as if the round robin is just a formality, and bears no change that is going decide who will be in the final. Then why play them at all?

With no disrespect to either of the elite teams, the Americans and the Canadians, but women’s hockey just might not be ready to be considered for the Winter Olympics. Instead the sport can continue its international tournaments and get the competition to the point where teams can come to the Olympics and have the opportunity to play well.

However, it does become a catch-22 for nations trying to raise awareness of ice hockey for women if they are not in the Olympics. While the play may be poor, how else are these nations able to gain some recruiting for future Olympics?

Looking at the overall picture of this tournament, I just believe that it needs a few more years to develop the sport in some young women. Let it grow, then let the best team win gold.

-- Olympic Notes --

  • USA men’s hockey got off to a rough start mostly because of bad weather on the east coast over the weekend. Only three players from the U.S. have arrived in Turin. Many players will arrive with just a day to recover from the travel and time change before the tournament starts on Wednesday.

  • Even it has no bearing on any thing to do with the sport of hockey, Wayne Gretzky’s troubles with his wife and assistant coach Rick Tocchet may bear some affect on the Canadian players in Italy. Janet Jones, Gretzky’s wife, did make the trip to Italy. Players will be plagued with questions of the gambling for the entire tournament as Canada tries to defend its Olympic Gold Medal.

  • From the Caps, Olaf Kolzig (Germany), Alex Ovechkin (Russia) and Ivan Majesky (Slovakia) have all left for Turin. All will join their respective teams today or tomorrow.

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