View Poll Results: Which of the following will be the next country to join the Elite 7?

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  • Germany

    23 12.11%
  • Switzerland

    99 52.11%
  • Latvia

    26 13.68%
  • Austria

    3 1.58%
  • Ukraine

    1 0.53%
  • Belarus

    6 3.16%
  • Denmark

    6 3.16%
  • Japan

    0 0%
  • Slovenia

    3 1.58%
  • Kazakhstan

    5 2.63%
  • France

    2 1.05%
  • Poland

    3 1.58%
  • Norway

    2 1.05%
  • Hungary

    7 3.68%
  • Britain

    4 2.11%
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Thread: POLL - Next Elite Nation

  1. #51
    IHF Staff Steigs's Avatar
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    Yeah, post IHWC it's time to review the options.
    Switzerland looks like the best bet, despite their unfortunate inability to finally crack the top 7 rankings. They looked pretty good, considering that they were missing a couple big names from the Olympics. The team's playing more physically, and doing it successfully though, so it should only be a matter of time.
    Germany has been hovering on the edge for years, but are STILL lacking the little edge in development to push themselves up with the Big Boys.
    Latvia, unfortunately, showed that they've still a little ways to go. Meanwhile Belarus looked really good this year, they're not quite at the top level yet but are making noise that they want to be there. Let's see where the next few years take them

    Denmark and Norway seem nearly on a par, though Denmark seems to have a better base in place for development. They might be a reasonable contender in a few years, but they're not quite close yet.

  2. #52
    IHF Member Piritta's Avatar
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    Switzerland of course :smart:

    But Poland will be in future in Elite :003: (I'm very serious :003: , like always)

  3. #53
    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steigs
    Yeah, post IHWC it's time to review the options.
    Switzerland looks like the best bet, despite their unfortunate inability to finally crack the top 7 rankings. They looked pretty good, considering that they were missing a couple big names from the Olympics. The team's playing more physically, and doing it successfully though, so it should only be a matter of time.
    Germany has been hovering on the edge for years, but are STILL lacking the little edge in development to push themselves up with the Big Boys.
    Latvia, unfortunately, showed that they've still a little ways to go. Meanwhile Belarus looked really good this year, they're not quite at the top level yet but are making noise that they want to be there. Let's see where the next few years take them

    Denmark and Norway seem nearly on a par, though Denmark seems to have a better base in place for development. They might be a reasonable contender in a few years, but they're not quite close yet.

    Steigs, your perspective is far too shortsighted.

    As for Germany, I don't understand your assessment at all. Since the mid-90s, the Gerrman Elite League (DEL) has declined relatively to NLA and some of the other non-elite leagues. Playing in the DEL is no longer as attractive as it used to be. The official number of players in German has also gone down, and Germany is developing fewer prospects than it used to. The development is reflected on the national teams. Their senior team is no longer creating the occassional upsets it did in the 1980s and early 1990s, and their U20 is no longer a solid #7 as they were in the 1980s and early 90s.

    Why do you think Denmark has a better base for development than Norway?

  4. #54
    IHF Staff Steigs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ramses
    Steigs, your perspective is far too shortsighted.

    As for Germany, I don't understand your assessment at all. Since the mid-90s, the Gerrman Elite League (DEL) has declined relatively to NLA and some of the other non-elite leagues. Playing in the DEL is no longer as attractive as it used to be. The official number of players in German has also gone down, and Germany is developing fewer prospects than it used to. The development is reflected on the national teams. Their senior team is no longer creating the occassional upsets it did in the 1980s and early 1990s, and their U20 is no longer a solid #7 as they were in the 1980s and early 90s.
    Hence my comment that they're still lacking the edge in development that they'd need to get into the "Big 8"
    The country has enough strong players that they shouldn't have a problem being in the top 12, but top-8 is still just a bit far from their reach, because of the league and development issues you mentioned. If you reread my post, you'll see that that's exactly what I'd said.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ramses
    Why do you think Denmark has a better base for development than Norway?
    Well, a better plan that they're preparing to implement, from what I can tell. I haven't heard much news from Norway, but the news I heard over the past season from Denmark as far as increasing the level of the Danish league and boosting development make me optimistic that Denmark is taking steps in the right direction.

  5. #55
    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steigs
    Hence my comment that they're still lacking the edge in development that they'd need to get into the "Big 8"
    The country has enough strong players that they shouldn't have a problem being in the top 12, but top-8 is still just a bit far from their reach, because of the league and development issues you mentioned. If you reread my post, you'll see that that's exactly what I'd said.
    I fully capable of reading your post, so don't patronize me. Your post was very clear but it doesn't hold up to the hard facts. Neither does your reply.

    So, let us compare the two periods 1981-1996 with the past 10 years (1997-2006)

    1981: 7 (beat USA 6:2, tied FIN 1:1)
    1982: 6 (beat CZE 4-2) - higher ranking than USA
    1983: 5 (tied CZE 3:3) - higher ranking than FIN and USA
    1984: 5 (just outside medal round in olympics) (tied Sweden 1:1) - higher ranking than FIN and USA
    1985: 7 (tied Finland 3:3)
    1986: 7 (beat CZE 4:3)
    1987: 6 (beat CAN 5:3, USA 6:4 and tied FIN 2:2) - higher ranking than USA
    1988: 5 (beat CZR 2:1, USA 4:1). Higher ranking than CZE!
    1989: 7 (tied SWE 3:3 and CZE 3:3
    1990: 7 (tied FIN 1:1)

    In the 1980s, W. Germany was never outside top-7; in 5 out of 10 years did W. Germany reach a higher ranking than some of the top-6 teams, and every single year did W.GER either beat or tie one or more of the top-6 teams.
    In the 1980s, you can truly claim, as I do, that W. Germany was on the edge of breaking into the elite.

    In the first half of the 1990s, after the reunification, Germany's position started to oscillate as Germany for the first time since the 70s was surpassed by some of the non-elite countries, most notably Switzerland. But remarkable results were still made until 1996.

    1991: 8 (behind SUI)
    1992: 5 (finished 2nd in group A in front of USA and SWE, lost QF to SUI. Beat SWE 5-2 (!) and USA.
    1993: 5 (finished 2nd in group B in front of USA and FIN, lost QF to RUS. Beat FIN and USA.
    1994: 9 (for the first time no upsets against top-7 nations)
    1995: 9 (do)
    1996: 8. Lost QF to CZE. Beat CAN 5:1

    Lets look at the past 10 years:

    1997: 11 (beat Slovakia 1-0), but surpassed by Latvia, Italy and France)
    1998: 11 (relegated, surpassed by Switzerland, Belarus, Latvia and Italy)
    1999: 20 (finished 4th in pool B, behind Denmark, Kazakhstan and Great Britain)
    2001: 17 (finished 1st in pool B, but still behind SUI, LAT, BLR, NOR, ITA, UKR, AUT and JAP)
    2002: 7 (eliminated in QF by SWE; no upsets vs top-7 nations)
    2003: 7 (eliminated by CAN in QF, tied FIN 2:2)
    2004: 9 (behind LAT and SUI, no upsets vs top-7 nations)
    2005: 15 (relegated. Lost to KAZ and SUI i preliminary round, and to DEN in relegation round).
    2006: 17 (finished first in Div 1A)

    Time to summarize:

    Time to summarize:

    What does it mean to be on the edge of the elite countries? Quite simple: over a longer period, the country must on average be on the edge, and the standard deviation should be low. Furthermore, we should expect the country to beat or tie some the elite countries on a fairly regular basis.

    Av. position (standard deviation)
    1981-90: 6.20 (0.87)
    1991-96: 7.33 (1.69)
    -------------------------
    1980-96: 6.62 (1.36)
    1997-06: 12.66 (4.47)

    In the 1980s, W. Germany accomplished just that. One average, WGER was on par with FIN and USA, and as close to the edge (top 6) as they could be: average 6.20, and incredible stable (rank movement less than 1 on av. yearly basis). In every single year did Germany beat or tie some of the top-6 countries: 3 wins over CZE + 2 tie, 4 ties with Finland, and wins over USA and Canada).

    In the past 10 years, we should at least expect that Germany on average would be firmly inside top 10, but that is not the case. Germany's average position is 12-13 and with highly unstable movements (SD: 4.47). This cannot simply be explained by the entry of ex-Soviet countries like Latvia and Belarus. in the period in question, Germany has regularly been surpassed by established Western European countries like Italy, Denmark and Norway. The claim that Germany is no longer hovering on the edge is supported by the fact that Germany on only one occassion in the past 10 years has had a decent result against a top-7 country (now incl. Slovakia), namely the draw against Finland in 2003 (two if you count the OT loss to CAN. I dont count the 1:0 win over SVK in 1997 as Slovakia was still building at the time).

    To complete the picture you can add the olympics and Canada Cup/World Cup:

    Olympics:
    1984: 5 (tied Sweden) cf. above
    1988: 5 (beat CZE) cf. above
    1992: 6 (tied CAN, lost narrowly twice to SWE and to USSR/CIS)
    1994: 7 (beat RUS, finished 2n, in Group B in front of RUS and CZE, lost QF to SWE, , beat USA in placement for #7)

    1998: didn't qualify for main tournament
    2002 7 (lost all games in main tournament, lost QF to USA. unlike previous period clear losses on the way; 1:7 to SWE, 2:8 to CZE and 0:5 to USA)
    2006: 10 (lost all games to elite countries, 2 ties vs ITA and SUI)

    --> Entirely consistent with conclusion above.

    Canada Cup/World Cup:

    1984: finished 6th and last, but manged to tie CZE 4:4
    1996: finished 6th (of 8) beat CZE 7:1

    2004: finished 8th, only losses.

    ---> enturely consistent with conclusion above.

    So confronted with the facts, the conclusion is very clear to me: Germany is no longer hovering around the elite, and they have lost their edge vis-a-vis a number of the non-elite countries. Further, Germany's relative decline cannot be explained by the claim that more countries are approaching the elite. The fact is that Germany in the past 10 years, unlike 1981-96, consistently have lost all their games (but a couple) in the big tournaments vis-a-vis the elite countries. That is the strongest evidence that Germany is drifting away from the edge of the elite.

    You may do the same exercise for U20 and you will get the following results

    1981: 5 (in front of USA and CAN!)
    1982: 7
    1983: 7
    1984: 7
    1985: 7
    1986: 8
    1987: 9
    1988: 7
    1989: 8
    1990: 10
    1991: 9
    1992: 7
    1993: 7
    1994: 7
    1995: 7
    1996: 8
    ---------
    1997: 9
    1998: 10
    1999: 14 (4th in B pool, behind UKR, POL, DEN)
    2000: 12 (2nd in B pool, behind BLR)
    2001: 12 (2nd in B pool, behind FRA)
    2002: 11 (won Div 1)
    2003: 9 (relegated from w-u20)
    2004: 12 (won U20 Div 1A)
    2005: 9 (relegated from w-u20)
    2006: 11 (won U20 Div 1A)

    1981-96: 7.5 (SD: 1.1) i.e. just outside the elite
    1997-06: 10.9 (1.58) i.e. further away from the elite.


    Quote Originally Posted by steigs
    Well, a better plan that they're preparing to implement, from what I can tell. I haven't heard much news from Norway, but the news I heard over the past season from Denmark as far as increasing the level of the Danish league and boosting development make me optimistic that Denmark is taking steps in the right direction.
    well, its far more complicated than that. 1) Norway have more youth hockey schools than Denmark, 2) and more youth players, and 3) limits on numbers of foreign players give Norwegian junior players more ice time in the senior elite league + div. 1. is consciuously organized with a view to getting the youth players accustomed to the senior league, plus 4) the Norwegian junior league is far more competitive than the Danish. Things are slowly improving in Denmark, but until now, the Danish success rest primarily on two factors: A) Denmark has one of the best youth clubs in the Nordic countries (R°dovre). The club is very professional driven and the development of youth players has the highest priority. It was Boris Kulagin who started this when he was coach in the 1970s, and in case you don't remember, Kulagin was the pupil and successor of Tarasov (head coached USSR between 1972 and 1977). Kulagin came to R°dovre immediately after he resigned as head coach for USSR in 1977. The majority of the Danish prospects comes from R°dovre. They usually win all the youth division from U8 to U19. So, sofar almost everything has hinged on R°dovre (and Herning). B) the development of Danish hockey profits immensely from hockey Sweden's neighbouring eye to Denmark.
    Last edited by Karsten; 17-06-2006 at 01:13.

  6. #56
    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    We can make the same exercise for Switzerland. I have here chosen to make three time intervals: 1981-90, 1991-97, and 1998-2006:

    1981: 11 (3rd in B pool)
    1982: 14 (6th in B pool)
    1983: 14 (6th in B pool)
    1984: 14 (2nd in Thayer-Tutt)
    1985: 10 (2nd in B pool)
    1986: 9 (1st in B pool)
    1987: 8 (relegated from A pool - 10 losses out of 10)
    1988: - (didn't qualify for Olympics, didn't participate in Thayer-Tutt)
    1989: 12 (4th in B pool)
    1990: 9 (1st in B pool)

    1991: 7 (beat CZE)
    1992: 4 (tied RUS and CAN, beat GER in QF, lost to SWE in SF and bronze medal game to CZE)
    1993: 12 (beat SWE, but relegated from A pool)
    1994: 13 won B pool
    1995: 12 (relegated from A pool, only managed a tie vs. AUT)
    1996: 14 (2nd in B pool)
    1997: 15 (3rd in B pool)

    1998: 4 (qualified as host nation; beat RUS in final round)
    1999: 8
    2000: 6 (beat RUS, tied SWE and USA; lost QF to CAN)
    2001: 9
    2002: 10
    2003: 8
    2004: 8
    2005: 8 (tied RUS)
    2006: 9 (tied SWE and SVK)

    1981-90: 11.22 (SD: 2.24)
    1991-97: 11.00 (SD: 3.70)
    1998-06: 7.78 (SD: 1.68)

    Since 1998, SUI has been closer to the elite than any other non-elite-7 country. Note that their SD is also pretty small in this period.
    A word of caution however: In the beginning of the 1990s, many predicted that SUI was about to breaking into the elite. This prediction was fuelled by the remarkable 4th place in IHWC 1992 - something that W. GER never accomplished, and SUI's wins over CZE and SWE. But it didn't happen. Instead SUI drifted back to their 1980s position. The Swiss success of 1992 was repeated in 1998, but since then SUI hasn't been inside top-7, and in the IHWC they haven't beaten any top-7 nation since 2000. SUI did however beat CAN and CZE in the 2006 Olympics but we cannot base any predictions on these results.

    I tend to conclude that SUI is hovering just outside the elite, but they aren't closer to breaking into the elite than they were around 10 years ago.

  7. #57
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    I think Swiss have best chance to become next elite nation.Germans have to much foregin players in their league.
    Latvia must re-build the team,as Ozolins,Irbe,Semjonovs are getting older...

  8. #58
    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by STOLBUN
    I think Swiss have best chance to become next elite nation.Germans have to much foregin players in their league.
    Latvia must re-build the team,as Ozolins,Irbe,Semjonovs are getting older...
    Switzerland is not closer than W. Germany was in the 1980s. What is important however is that SUI's ranking is not longer oscillating. They are a stable #8, and #6 in Europe. That is a crucially important position for a) olympic participation, b) participation in ECC, and 3) if it should be resurrected, World Cup participation.

    This is a solid basis for building further and in the longer run making it to the elite. But this will take at least another decade.

  9. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ramses
    Switzerland is not closer than W. Germany was in the 1980s. What is important however is that SUI's ranking is not longer oscillating. They are a stable #8, and #6 in Europe. That is a crucially important position for a) olympic participation, b) participation in ECC, and 3) if it should be resurrected, World Cup participation.

    This is a solid basis for building further and in the longer run making it to the elite. But this will take at least another decade.
    BRD was close in the 80:s and beging of 90:s but
    Switzerland are a litle bit closer.

    In OG Switzerland beat both Canada and CZE.Republic. And finaly Switzerland are allready equal to Slovakia in juniors and next year they can pass USA in the world ranks and become number seven.

    One good questina are that is the kriteria to be a "Big 7"? Slovkia was the latest member and was recodnice first after the gold in 2002(maybesome recodnise them after the silver in 2000. Must Switzerland win a gold to be recodnice our its it enough if they take a sliver?our it is enoug if Switzerland are rankt number 7 before USA?

    But how many years must go whit out a gold before a team now longer are inside "big 7"? USA won the last time 1980 but have a sliver from 2002. Russia won IHWC 93 and have a sliver from OG 1998 and a silver in IHWC 2002 and Finland havent won since 1995 IHWC but have taken a lot of silver since.

  10. #60
    IHF Staff Graham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    But how many years must go whit out a gold before a team now longer are inside "big 7"? USA won the last time 1980 but have a sliver from 2002. Russia won IHWC 93 and have a sliver from OG 1998 and a silver in IHWC 2002 and Finland havent won since 1995 IHWC but have taken a lot of silver since.
    I don't think it has to be about medals. In my eyes, the Big 7 are a set of nations that, when at full strength, are capable of beating each other on a regular basis and will beat anyone outside of the Big 7 at least 9 times out of 10. As soon as another country shows that it can compete on an even level with those 7, it will be an Elite 8 in my eyes.

    Graham.
    "It's very hard to talk quantum using a language originally designed to tell other monkeys where the ripe fruit is."
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  11. #61
    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    BRD was close in the 80:s and beging of 90:s but
    Switzerland are a litle bit closer.

    In OG Switzerland beat both Canada and CZE.Republic. And finaly Switzerland are allready equal to Slovakia in juniors and next year they can pass USA in the world ranks and become number seven.
    You cannot base your predictions one one season. If you exclude Turin, SUI has lost every single game in the big tournaments to CAN and CZE in the past 10 years. Do all these defeats suddenly don't count? You're making the same mistake as many did in the early 90's (see my previous post on Switzerland).

    I don't see that Switzerland is closer than Germany was in the 1980s. They have had two good IHWC's in the past ten years (1998 and 2000) and one good olympics. In 98' they profitted from home advantage, in 2000 from Russia's collapse. In the reminder of the years, Switzerland has consistently ranked lower than Elite-7. In the 1980's, Germany broke into top-6 in five out of 10 years (50%) + they had two good olympics (1984 and 1988). Switzerland lack the consistency of Germany of the 1980s. You will find the evidence in the statistical analysis I have made: Germany was not only closer to Top 6 (-0.2) than Switzerland is to top-7 (-.8), but also showed greater consistency (Germany's SD 0.87 vs SUI's 1.68).

    Note, however, that I am not arguing that SUI is far from what GER was in the 1980s. If one limit the analysis to the past 5 years, they are pretty close. But with this narrowing the analysis, the statistical significance of the analysis also weakens.



    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    One good questina are that is the kriteria to be a "Big 7"? Slovkia was the latest member and was recodnice first after the gold in 2002(maybesome recodnise them after the silver in 2000. Must Switzerland win a gold to be recodnice our its it enough if they take a sliver?our it is enoug if Switzerland are rankt number 7 before USA?

    But how many years must go whit out a gold before a team now longer are inside "big 7"? USA won the last time 1980 but have a sliver from 2002. Russia won IHWC 93 and have a sliver from OG 1998 and a silver in IHWC 2002 and Finland havent won since 1995 IHWC but have taken a lot of silver since.
    See Graham's reply.

  12. #62
    IHF Member Aldair's Avatar
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    What's really funny - is the poll results. I'm fully agree about Switzerland and Germany, but 20 voices for Latvia?? And 5 for kazakhstan??! Kazaks hockey is dead - they haven't any normal hockey place except of Ust-Kamenogors? Were are the schools? Young talents? Finances?

    And the same regarding Latvia.... Their hockey politics are wrong, Riga and Metallurg can't even participate BOL becouse of lack of money!! They have a good traditions and a lot of fans - but it's not enough...

    Belarus can be - Lukashenko will be the president untill he dies; Denmark also get more chances than Kazakshtan, I think - but maybe it's becouse of Dancan's work - he wrotes a lot about Denmark and it creates such impression...

  13. #63
    IHF Member Sakaarnis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aldair1808
    What's really funny - is the poll results. I'm fully agree about Switzerland and Germany, but 20 voices for Latvia?? And 5 for kazakhstan??! Kazaks hockey is dead - they haven't any normal hockey place except of Ust-Kamenogors? Were are the schools? Young talents? Finances?

    And the same regarding Latvia.... Their hockey politics are wrong, Riga and Metallurg can't even participate BOL becouse of lack of money!! They have a good traditions and a lot of fans - but it's not enough...

    Belarus can be - Lukashenko will be the president untill he dies; Denmark also get more chances than Kazakshtan, I think - but maybe it's becouse of Dancan's work - he wrotes a lot about Denmark and it creates such impression...

    20 voices are fair result. There is huge progress in hockey infrastructure here in past years and that was biggest problem for hockey development 6-8 years ago - no rinks. Though i dont think Latvia will be able to produce golden team in a decade, maybe a 4th tier or even a bronze medalist. Riga and Metalurgs backing out of BOL doesnt bother me, after all its Belarus championships, im more conserned about developement of local championships. As for Belarus, i dont think government will be able to pull in big loads of cash as they do now forever. And when hockey in Belarus will need to find local sponsoers they might have rough times.

  14. #64
    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aldair1808
    What's really funny - is the poll results. I'm fully agree about Switzerland and Germany, but 20 voices for Latvia?? And 5 for kazakhstan??! Kazaks hockey is dead - they haven't any normal hockey place except of Ust-Kamenogors? Were are the schools? Young talents? Finances?

    And the same regarding Latvia.... Their hockey politics are wrong, Riga and Metallurg can't even participate BOL becouse of lack of money!! They have a good traditions and a lot of fans - but it's not enough...
    Aldair, I always shake my head when people start talking about a "next elite" hockey nation.

    I have followed international ice hockey for 35 years now, and in all these years, another elite nation has not appeared on the stage.

    Finland? No, back in the 70s Finland was already an elite nation. But back in those days, there was basically only USSR, USSR and USSR and then CSSR. Sweden and Finland could battle for the bronze medal. In my comprehensive archives from the period, I have an article from 1974 written by Ludek Bukac, one of Czechoslovakia's biggest hockey experts at the time (professor at the Sports Academy in Prague and coach for Sparta Prague). In the article he constructed and discussed a sport power index factoring physical strength, individual skill, position play and team play. Finland ranked higher than CZE and SWE on physical strength and was exactly equal in individual skills, but they were trailing somewhat in position and team play. Combined, Finland was just behind Sweden, but far in front of W. and E. Germany and Poland. Kudec concluded that he wouldn't be surprised if Finland won the IHWC gold by the end of the 1970s.
    Finland, however, continued to underperform. For two reasons. One was mentality. Year in and year out, Finland seemed to be only interested in one game in the IHWC, their game vs. yes-guess-who? The other reason was lack of funds. In 1976, the players from the Finnish top team, Tappara, led by star player Marjamńki boycotted the world championship in Katowice in protest against the Finnish hockey federation.
    To cut a long story short: it took 22 years before Kudec's prediction became a reality.
    It goes without saying that USA and Canada also belonged to the elite. Both teams suffered from Bunny Ahearne's IIHF regime. Canada chose to boycot the IHWC, while USA until 1976 primarily played with college players.

    But if Finland already belonged to the elite in the 1970s, what would be the next elite nation? The first debate I have in my archives is from the period after the Olympic games in Sapporo (1972). That was a debate among Swedish hockey experts. Some of the experts predicted that the next elite nations would be Japan and China, and that these countries might surpass Sweden by the end of the decade.

    The next debate started in 1976 after the IHWC in Katowice where some predicted that Poland would be the next elite nation, after their sensational win over USSR. In the early 1980s, we had the "German debate", in the early 90's the "Swiss debate", and here we are again.

    It takes decades to develop into an elite nation. Switzerland is the only real contender, but it will take at least another 10 years to break into the elite. And it's not enough for Switzerland to surpass Slovakia who are just on the inside edge of the elite. To be called an elite nation, Switzerland must be able to beat the big more than occassionally and they must on a regular basis (not every year, but regularly) reach the medal games (i.e. reach the semifinals) in the world championships.

    Quote Originally Posted by aldair1808
    Belarus can be - Lukashenko will be the president untill he dies; Denmark also get more chances than Kazakshtan, I think - but maybe it's becouse of Dancan's work - he wrotes a lot about Denmark and it creates such impression...
    I take no responsibility for what others get out of my posts, but personally I am very cautious (see e.g. my notes on Denmark and Norway in post #55 below).
    You will never hear me talking about Denmark as an elite nation. This will never happen. Denmark's ambition is to reach top 10 on a consistent basis in the medium and longer term. The range from top 8 to top 12 -- Switzerland, Latvia, Belarus, Germany... - is very contested so this objective is realistic.

  15. #65
    IHF Member Aldair's Avatar
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    Great note! I'm agree with every word! More specifically:

    1) Being agree with you - I can't see that can really join top 7 on the very high level(such as OG) - when the best players particpate. There could be a local victories, on some WC's, even on single OG - but I don't see the situation when it becomes a usuall. I'm talking about Switzerland of course and Belarus(not only cause I'm from there).
    As I see it - the things look like in both countries. Switzerland is more tich, but there are more population in Belarus, and, as a logical conclusion - more talents that are found due to quality selection provided by a "local hockey system"(of course becouse of right directives from Lukashenko).

    2)
    You will never hear me talking about Denmark as an elite nation
    I have meaned that you write a lot about Denmark - and it improves the general opinion about Denmark's hockey. :hockey:

  16. #66
    IHF Staff Graham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ramses
    It takes decades to develop into an elite nation. Switzerland is the only real contender, but it will take at least another 10 years to break into the elite.
    I agree that it takes ages to develop into an elite nation. I'd actually say that I'm not prepared to really commit to who or when. One of the common features in this forum is how quickly people are preapred to jump on a country's bandwagon when they have a good tournament.

    When Israel one Div 2 there were a reasonable number in here saying that they would not only survive Div 1, but would do quite well in it. The idea that perhaps Israel had just one good tournament didn't really seem to be an option. And we have seen the same again this year. Lithuania's performance in Tallinn started comments in here about how Lithuania are now a significant Division 1 force. It may be the start of good times for Lithuania, but it also may the highest that Lithuania reach for the next 15 years.

    I would say that at this moment time there is not a single team that is on their way to becoming an elite nation. Switzerland and Germany are closest, but only because they are the 8th and 9th best nations (ignoring Germany's hiccup in 2005). Both nations, in my eyes, haven't improved over recent years. They seem to have found their level and aren't yet narrowing the gap.

    Graham.
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  17. #67
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    So basicly we all agree that any talk about team otside of BIG-7 make it BIG-8 is a bust! Swiss as it seems are closest as anyone else but it will take decades to make it happen, if it ever will. Well, i can only agree with it and wish any team outside BIG-7 all the success building up their hockey infrastructure and produce more top players and ofcourse give hard times at WHC or OG to BIG-7. Its always more entertaining to cheer for underdogs, isnt it? :claphands

  18. #68
    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    Graham, I share your skepticism about Switzerland. What I am saying is that they are the only contender at the moment, but it will take at least another decade. But I didn't attach any probability to the outcome. My guess: less than 20%.

    We are talking about the real elite - top 6. It is likely that Switzerland will surpass Slovakia, but I think it will be very difficult for SUI to crack into the top-6.

    Why? Basically because the limited pool of players. According to the latest IIHF stats, SUI has around 25,000 reg. players, much less than any top-6 country. Finland comes closest, but Finland has 62,000 reg. players.
    But isn't the number of reg. players growing very fast in SUI? No. In the past 30 years, it has grown with around 1% p.a. from 17,000 in 1974 to 25,000 today.
    It's also interesting to note that in 1974 (32 years ago), hockey was almost as big a spectator sport in SUI as it is today. In 1974, Bern on average attracted 13,000 to their games and was no. 1 on the European list, just as is today.

    Someone attempted to infer something from SUI-20's victory over SVK-20 in the 2006-U20 world championship. I say: learn your history. In 1998, SUI-20 took bronze. On their way, they tied RUS, beat SWE in the QF and CZE in the bronze medal game! In 2002, SUI-20 finished 4th after having eliminated SVK-20 in the QF. In the preliminary stage, they beat FIN. But since 2002, SUI-20 haven't produced similar results. Their lack of consistency reflects the fact that SUI is not producing strong juniors year-after-year. They need to do that to crack the elite.

    As I have argued, we need to take a long term view on the matter. Here, it is interesting to note that Switzerland's junior teams were always just outside the elite in the long period from the 1970s to the late 1990s. In the European J19 championships played between 1968 and 1998, Switzerland ranked consistently between 5 and 7 in the long period between 1973-90. Add USA and CAN and you will find that this is just outside the elite. However, Switzerland's senior team were never close to the elite in this long period. It was a B-pool team.
    In the U20 World Championship, Switzerland consistently hovered around the A and B pool from 1978 to 1996. Since 1997 (the past 10 years), Switzerland has climbed inside top 8 in most of the years, but only because they have surpassed Germany. The higher standard deviation reflects the lack of consistency in producing strong junior players year-after-year.

    SUI - position in U20 IHWC

    1978: 8 (relegated)
    1979: 9 (promoted)
    1980: 8 (relegated)
    1981: 9 (promoted)
    1982: 8 (relegated)
    1983: 9 (promoted)
    1984: 8 (relegated)
    1985: 9 (promoted)
    1986: 7
    1987: 6 (relegated, CAN and RUS disqualified)
    1988: 11
    1989: 10
    1990: 9 (promoted)
    1991: 7
    1992: 8 (relegated)
    1993: 9 (promoted)
    1994: 8 (relegated)
    1995: 9 (promoted)
    1996: 9
    ------------
    Mean: 8.47
    SD: 1.09

    1997: 7 (beat SWE 6:2 in relegation group)
    1998: 3 (2nd i preliminary: tied RUS 3:3, beat SVK 3:1, beat SWE i QF and CZE in bronze game)
    1999: 9
    2000: 6
    2001: 6 (beat RUS 3:2 in placement 5-8)
    2002: 4 (beat FIN, SVK in QF)
    2003: 7
    2004: 8
    2005: 8
    2006: 7
    ----------
    Mean: 6.5
    SD: 1.74

    Still, I disagree about Germany. As I have already indicated, Germany's slip in the ranking is structural. 2005 was not the only year Germany has been relegated in the past 10 years. Germany's decline is also reflected in the ranking of their U20 team.

    GER is on par with LAT and perhaps BLR and a little above NOR and DEN, but a little lower than SUI. And SUI is much closer to LAT, BLR, and GER than they are to top-6.

    A more meaningful discussion is this:

    1) What teams do you think will be consistently inside top 10 on a longer basis, and
    2) what teams do you think will remain in "pool A" on a consistent basis.

    The debate about a "next elite nation" is futile.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Graham
    I don't think it has to be about medals. In my eyes, the Big 7 are a set of nations that, when at full strength, are capable of beating each other on a regular basis and will beat anyone outside of the Big 7 at least 9 times out of 10. As soon as another country shows that it can compete on an even level with those 7, it will be an Elite 8 in my eyes.

    Graham.
    I dont think Slovakia, USA and Russia can beat Switzerland nine times of ten. The gap between Slovakia and Switzerland are not so far. Its not seven equal nation in the top of the hockey world. Its a top 3(Canada, Sweden and Czech.republic), Finland in the midel and Russia, USA and Slovakia in the botom.

  20. #70
    IHF Staff Graham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    I dont think Slovakia, USA and Russia can beat Switzerland nine times of ten. The gap between Slovakia and Switzerland are not so far. Its not seven equal nation in the top of the hockey world. Its a top 3(Canada, Sweden and Czech.republic), Finland in the midel and Russia, USA and Slovakia in the botom.
    Wouldn't agree, at least not when Slovakia, USA and Russia have their full NHL squad at their disposal.

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  21. #71
    IHF Member Hockey Chief's Avatar
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    It was a tough call between Switzerland and Latvia, but I put Latvia. Switzerland did pretty well in the Torino Olympics, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll go on to join the elite.

    Oh wait--I just remembered Kazakhstan...they would've been a good candidate too.
    The Finns WILL beat the Swedes in the 2010 Olympics! Mutta odota ensi keralle! (But wait till next time!)

  22. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hockey Chief
    It was a tough call between Switzerland and Latvia, but I put Latvia. Switzerland did pretty well in the Torino Olympics, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll go on to join the elite.
    I called Switzerland, for a couple reasons. One, Latvian hockey isn't in good enough economic shape to be competitive on that level. The team they have is good, but it's still the product (in part anyway) of the Soviet hockey schools. I expect that the level of Latvian hockey will drop slightly over the next ten years, level out, and then (hoping that the Latvian economy can strengthen enough to properly support this part) start a slow rise.
    Meanwhile Switzerland is well-established, and are beginning to reap the benefits of a very well-organized junior hockey development program. The nation's economy is much stronger than Latvia's, which helps because people can afford to support their clubs (some support trickles to the junior development), and companies are willing to pitch in as well.
    Add to that the fact that Switzerland has a larger population base to work with, and the odds of the Swiss joining the elite before Latvia are pretty good.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hockey Chief
    Oh wait--I just remembered Kazakhstan...they would've been a good candidate too.
    You must've missed the part where we talk about junior development in Kazakhstan, which just isn't good enough at this point to keep the team consistently good over the long-term.

  23. #73
    IHF Staff Trim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steigs
    One, Latvian hockey isn't in good enough economic shape to be competitive on that level. The team they have is good, but it's still the product (in part anyway) of the Soviet hockey schools.
    ...
    You must've missed the part where we talk about junior development in Kazakhstan, which just isn't good enough at this point to keep the team consistently good over the long-term.
    Although plenty of the information on US TV during the Olympics is false regarding European teams, I recall them mentioning that Ralph Krueger also has a hand in what players are selected for the junior national teams. Along with that and Latvia's top teams are playing in the Belarus Open League while the Swiss have the domestic NLA which is a higher level and I would think that has a role in getting the population interested in the sport as the teams are all located in the same nation.

    In regards to Kazakhstan, getting relegated really proves how far they need to go. As Steigs said about Latvia's current seniors being a product of the old Soviet development system, the same applies to Kazakhstan. Concerning the junior development, only Roman Starchenko was on both senior and U20 teams. Six other players were under the age of 25, but the glory days of beating Canada in U20 are not coming back anytime soon. As seen between the 2005 and 2006 IHWC's, they also have a distinct lack of depth in goaltending as well.
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  24. #74
    IHF Member Hockey Chief's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steigs
    You must've missed the part where we talk about junior development in Kazakhstan, which just isn't good enough at this point to keep the team consistently good over the long-term.
    Hmmm :scratchhe ...yes, I did miss that part. My bad.
    The Finns WILL beat the Swedes in the 2010 Olympics! Mutta odota ensi keralle! (But wait till next time!)

  25. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hockey Chief
    Hmmm :scratchhe ...yes, I did miss that part. My bad.
    ...my emphasis was intended to be on the second part of that statement (the first part was purely me being facetious)

  26. #76
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    I'm not sure who will make the elite level but I think Germany has the potential to quickly get there if they can get some more support that isn't so tied to private investors (that is, government's got to spread a little football money their way). The Swiss are for sure contenders and with NHL success of some players brings more interest at home.

    But one factor that needs to be included in the formula is experience from the powerful hockey countries. I think Women's hockey is a good example - you know how boring it is to watch Canada play the US or Finland all the time afterthumping the others? So they realized that unless they can start to support those country's programs. their own game will go down the tube without the pressure to improve. Women's hockey is a good model to watch as other country's programs get better because those dominant teams are helping to make the game better, not waiting to see if they can make the leap to the elite level. For sure there are some north americans and scandinavians in other country's development but there needs to be more international support.

  27. #77
    IHF Member kun's Avatar
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    I think Switzerland will get there, they have everything going for them. Karsten has an excellent breakdown, but I have a feeling with everything focussed on the IIHF and Fazel really pushing for the smaller countries (If he remains President). The IIHF headquarters in Switzerland, the oldest European Trophy being competed every year and countries like Canada nurturing them to a degree, and a great NLA division, eventually they will get there.

  28. #78
    IHF Member rusher's Avatar
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    Germany
    More and more success in U-18 tournaments in last years, strong domestic league, big country and big player's resources.

    I would also mention Switerland that is already near it, later Belarus and maybe just maybe Latvia, Denmark together and Austria still even later.

  29. #79
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    I honestly thinks that this poll lacks an explicit option: NONE ;-)
    And no one ever seems to care to define what elite nation exactly means. I'll try a definition:

    A country is an icehockey elite nation if its national team is consistently competitive in high stake games (like IHWC and OG final round matches) against the national teams of CAN, RUS, CZE, SWE, FIN, USA; SVK over a span of several years.
    In that respect I defined competitive such that the odds on the sports bet market for a win of this team in such games are consistently below x (we can debate the exact numerical value of x now, I'd place it at somewhere around 3).

    According to that definition I say that in the short to mid term (next 5 to 10 years) there will surely be no new elite nation. Maybe it even goes the other way round and the number of elite nations drops down to 6 (Slovakia seems to go in that direction although their current situation with the loss to Germany should not be overrated).
    Further down the road the candidates are (in order) imho Germany, Switzerland an Belarus. Behind those - no hope whatsoever. Latvia, Denmark, Norway also Austria (we're a little bit off the picture now;-), Slovenia, France Italy etc... can be challengers once in a while but that's it.

  30. #80
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    Great post Rex, sums up my thoughts nicely.

    I would add the proviso when attaching a number to x that the game is played between both nations at full strength. In the IHWC the Elite nations suffer more as a result of the NHL playoffs than those aspiring to join them.

  31. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by JRM View Post
    Great post Rex, sums up my thoughts nicely.

    I would add the proviso when attaching a number to x that the game is played between both nations at full strength. In the IHWC the Elite nations suffer more as a result of the NHL playoffs than those aspiring to join them.
    I didn't add the full strength because it is covered by the part that says "over several years".
    Depth is a part of what makes an elite nation. Slovakia was hit hard this year by absences - if they have everyone on board they are top notch but 10 guys missing makes a big difference (in contrast to Canada...). But then again 10 guys missing (or whatever number such that it has a big influence) is a rare event for Slovakia because though their depth is small compared to Canada it is still decent such that they are robust to shocks and one might say this year is just an exceptional situation. Point is that I believe that a true elite nation must have the depth so that it is competitve against the peers consistently over the years and the invetible shocks to player availability are buffered and only have an effect in very extreme situations (like Slovakia now).

    EDIT: just saw that Graham hase defined elite nation before...just as Karsten put up a lot of facts concerning the case of Germany.

    However, I find usingodds from the betting market very attractive to evaluate competitiveness. The problem with game results is that we have only a few observations per year which by the stochastic nature of sports might lead to wrong conclusions. Odds formed on a competitive market are the result of a process of information aggregation and on average they should be the magnitude that approaches the true but unobserveable realtive strengths of teams best.
    Last edited by RexKramer; 07-05-2008 at 13:31.

  32. #82
    IHF Staff Graham's Avatar
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    And, of course, there is another twist to this. Just because it is an Elite 7 today, does not necessarily mean that it won't be an Elite 6 tomorrow. I don't think anyone is ready to drop out yet, but you never know what gobal recessions will bring to weaker nations...

    Graham.
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  33. #83
    IHF Member Tokyo Bucks's Avatar
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    Hey quick, someone vote for Norway already!
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  34. #84
    IHF Staff Graham's Avatar
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    I'm still stunned that 4 people think that Britain will be next!

    Graham.
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  35. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graham View Post
    I'm still stunned that 4 people think that Britain will be next!

    Graham.
    Well it doesn't say anything about when, so it still could be if all the other contenders fail in the meantime and British hockey starts skyrocketing in 2020

    @Tokyo Bucks:

    It is a well established fact that people tend to project from actual outcomes of current events to the future disregarding that they outcome they have observed is just one realization of a random variable. It's like when the toss of a die yields a 6 people tend to think it will only be sixes and fives in the future...
    Lot of people think that a positive outlier from a mediocre distribution is in fact the mean of a better distribution.

  36. #86
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    At least Switzerland will very probably on place 7 in the World-Ranking while Slovakia will face place 8 after the IHWC.

  37. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonas View Post
    At least Switzerland will very probably on place 7 in the World-Ranking while Slovakia will face place 8 after the IHWC.
    Yes and if it turns out like this it is a very good achievment by Switzerland and if I was Swiss I would celebrate it, no doubt.
    But the point we are discussing is how likely is it that it turns out to be that way in lets say 4 out of the next 5 years? Will Switzerland be able to beat Sweden and pull ahead Slovakia in the ranking regularily? With all respect I don't think so.

  38. #88
    IHF Member Tokyo Bucks's Avatar
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    Sarcasm doesn't travel well in international forums, should've used a smiley for emphasis :P

    Anyways, we play and watch sports because surprises can happen and not everything goes according to what's on paper, that's why sport is fun. But yes, in the long run, performances tend to regress to their expectations.
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  39. #89
    IHF Member welmu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graham View Post
    I'm still stunned that 4 people think that Britain will be next!

    Graham.
    why not?

    i voted germany, i see they have more potential than switzerland but only time will tell

  40. #90
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    Swiss are next elite nation. German have potential, but I think that in DEL are too many foregin players. I think they should limit numbers of foregin players like swiss did(4 per team I guess).
    Last edited by Spitfire; 11-05-2008 at 17:49.

  41. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forsberg View Post
    Swiss are next elite nation. German have potential, but I think that in DEL are too many foregin players. I think they should limit numbers of foregin players like swiss did(4 per team I guess).
    and note that the club teams in each nation are still at similar levels in terms of overall skill, but Switzerland with only half as many imports, shows the level that the Swiss players have gotten to, and thus why I agree with Forsberg.

  42. #92
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    The trend are clear. Switzerland and Belarus are coming but Slovakia are on its way down. In 5-6 years we can have a top 6 our we can have a top 9. Switzerland have it all but Belarus needs to incresse the number of players and its infrastructure. Hoppfully Slovakia can overcome its crises.

    The hockey world needs more strong nation in the top its not good if Slovakia drops out and Switzerland and Belarus faild to take the step. But hockey are the hardest sport in the world to develop its so expensive so the upcoming teams most realy have a big suport in its country to make it.

    Its the biggest problem for Denmark and Norway to be realy top nation in the future. in Denmark and Norway hockey arnt a national sport. And its very dificult to become a national sport if the national team dont do well.

    So Switzerland, Belarus and Latvia have the uper hand becurse hockey are big in this nation. Germany can be where becurse its a so big country like United States hockey dont needs to be a national sport to be strong, its alot of resurses any way.

    In Denmarks case I hope the young generation can make the sport more popular in Denmark. Denmark will have a realy strong team in a 3-4 years and if they make it to the Olympics maybe hockey can get stronger in the minds of the danish.

  43. #93
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    Based on the new IIHF rankings, Switzerland - at least officially - has joined the "Big 7" and Slovakia (again, at least officially) has dropped out of it.

    I say "officially" because if Slovakia has all of its NHL'ers available, as in the Olympics when the NHL shuts down, it is still, to my mind, better than the Swiss.

  44. #94
    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc Brunengraber View Post
    Based on the new IIHF rankings, Switzerland - at least officially - has joined the "Big 7" and Slovakia (again, at least officially) has dropped out of it.

    I say "officially" because if Slovakia has all of its NHL'ers available, as in the Olympics when the NHL shuts down, it is still, to my mind, better than the Swiss.

    Not a chance. Switzerland very rarely beat the teams from top 6. What is more, Switerland is performning no better today vs Top 6 than it did in the early 90s, or in the late 90s. Furthermore, the Swiss J18 and J20 teams are still clearly outside the top 6, and over the past 20 years, the Swiss league hasn't improved significantly enough to make Switzerland a potential Elite nation.

    I will present a novel statistical analysis on the topic later this week.

    Slovakia is very erratic. If the team mainly play with its NHL'ers as in 2002-2005 its one the very best teams in the world. If it mainly plays with players from Europe, it is mediocre compared with the top 6 and on level with Switzerland and Germany.

    I'm a little amazed that the message isn't getting through: History has shown that it takes decades to become an elite nation. Switzerland is not near becoming one. Not even remotely.

    I have never liked the topic of this thread. It is founded on a lack of historical knowledge of how a nation becomes an elite nation.

    If the question is: "What country will be the next to join Elite 7?", any serious hockey historian would ask: "What time span are we talking about?" If it is within 20 years, the answer is: None! If it is 50 years, it could be anyones guess. If you ask me, I would say China! China has the population size needed and and is experiencing a roaring economic development to make a big time turnaround in its hockey development with a clear potential to reach the Elite. But it will take decades.

    If we are talking 20 years, the question should be reframed: what country is likely to make most progress in closing the gap vis-a-vis the Elite nations?
    Last edited by Karsten; 20-05-2008 at 23:32.

  45. #95
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    that's a saddening post karsten. So we actually die before there is next elite nation...

    I would like to think that it takes just right players to succeed, and if you can have succes, you are there with the elite nations. We know what happened in past but can we really know what will happen in the future? maybe there is next gretzky playing for team switzerland in 2016 and lead them to the world championships

  46. #96
    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by welmu View Post
    that's a saddening post karsten. So we actually die before there is next elite nation...

    I would like to think that it takes just right players to succeed, and if you can have succes, you are there with the elite nations. We know what happened in past but can we really know what will happen in the future? maybe there is next gretzky playing for team switzerland in 2016 and lead them to the world championships
    Question: Which was the last country to make the elite?

    Answer: Finland

    Question: How long time did it take? When did Finland start to regular beat the other elite nations?

    Answer: in the 1990s. 35-40 years after Finland made serious steps developing hockey and more than 60 years after the Finnish hockey federation was established. And here we are talking about a country where the conditions for hockey couldn't be better.

    read more: http://forums.internationalhockey.ne...ead.php?t=6102

  47. #97
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    Finally I have someone joining to sing my song ;-).

    Basically the non elite nations would have to develop a brand new and sufficiently large set of players of at least NHL regular caliber (plus some on NHL impact player level) to get on par with the big boys (this doesn't mean these players actually have to play in the NHL, they just have to be so good that they could).
    Some of the (perceived) contenders have a few of those but there's no signs of them getting the required 30-50 that lets them build a competitive team on a yearly basis (defections, injuries, PO committment, etc...). And given that it takes about 20 years at least to form such a player it will take 2 decades if a country just started to train prospects in sufficient numbers right away. But to be able to do so, infrastructure needs to be build, know-how accumulated, competitve youth leagues built up etc.... long way to go.

    I like Karsten's China example and have been thinking about it myself for some time. Suppose the Chinese government out of a funny notion decided to make hockey a priority sport and start to invest heavily into it. Say they build 10-20 more icerinks in one particular region, recruit top notch coaches from abroad, start to scout for motorically talented kids and put the 30-40 of the most skillful 4 year olds in those places into a hockey boarding school every year and let them play a competitve league among each other as soon as they are 10. Such a program was bound to the sky but it would still take 20 years....

  48. #98
    IHF Member welmu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karsten View Post
    Question: Which was the last country to make the elite?

    Answer: Finland

    Question: How long time did it take? When did Finland start to regular beat the other elite nations?

    Answer: in the 1990s. 35-40 years after Finland made serious steps developing hockey and more than 60 years after the Finnish hockey federation was established. And here we are talking about a country where the conditions for hockey couldn't be better.

    read more: http://forums.internationalhockey.ne...ead.php?t=6102
    yes, many years... of course it will not happen just like that
    but it's not 1900 anymore, last time i checked it was year 2008
    and yes it's only guessing that which country will next join the elite, i think this thread can't be taken so seriously then

  49. #99
    IHF Member Toni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karsten View Post
    Question: Which was the last country to make the elite?

    Answer: Finland

    Question: How long time did it take? When did Finland start to regular beat the other elite nations?

    Answer: in the 1990s. 35-40 years after Finland made serious steps developing hockey and more than 60 years after the Finnish hockey federation was established. And here we are talking about a country where the conditions for hockey couldn't be better.

    read more: http://forums.internationalhockey.ne...ead.php?t=6102
    I'd say that the performance of Switzerland today is "comparable" with Finland in the late 60ies and early 70ies (winning against the elite teams from time to time but not an regular basis). It took Finland 20 to 25 years to win their first WC from that point of time, so if Switzerland develops similar from here they could win in 2035 (I wander if the 75 years old Ralph Krueger will be behind the Swiss bench then ).

    The open question is if the Swiss program is good enough that they can improve as the Finns did in 60-90ies. Right now it looks like that they are more or less stagnating.

  50. #100
    IHF Staff Steigs's Avatar
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    Rex and Karsten:
    by your requirements for a nation to be considered among hte elite, in terms both of quality and quantity of high-quality players, then I could argue that we only really have 6 elite nations, since Slovakia doesn't have enough depth to be properly competitive on a yearly basis.

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