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Thread: Israeli hockey being left behind

  1. #1
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    Israeli hockey being left behind

    Israeli hockey used to, from the late 1990's through the mid 2000's, compete with the likes of Belgium, Serbia and Australia - often beating those nations - and was well ahead of such rivals as Iceland, China and Mexico.

    Now, Israel has fallen well behind all of those nations in the IIHF rankings, and has been relegated to Division III.

    However, look at what all of these nations have done in the past decade:

    -Serbia had built a decent league, but then dismantled it. They have since built up a strong "base club" for the national team (the semi-pro Partizan Belgrade) and placed it in a good league (Slohokej, i.e., the Slovenian league). By "base club," I mean that most of the national team's players play there so that they get experience playing together year round in a good league.

    - China has had several clubs compete in the Asia League, and has since combined them into one "base club" for the national team with the China Sharks.

    -Australia has significantly upgraded its national league to where it is semi-pro status.

    -Iceland has significantly improved the level of its league, though not to the extent Australia has.

    -Belgium maintains a pro league.

    Now, Mexico has established a semi-pro league that will be open to foreigners in its second season. http://www.iihf.com/home-of-hockey/n...ash=e8dabd3c98

    Israeli hockey is being left behind. The Israeli league remains one of the weakest national leagues in the world, which is inexcusable in a nation with Israel's resources.

    The biggest problem lies with the Israeli federation's leadership. Diaspora Jews pour money into the federation - where is it going?

    Why hasn't Sergei Matin (Israeli Federation President) improved the caliber of play in the Israeli League?

    Why hasn't he continually tried to promote the sport and the league in the mainstream Israeli media?

    Why hasn't he reached out to Israeli industry or various branches of government (armed forces, etc.) to sponsor or form teams?

    Why hasn't he invited semi-pro non-Israeli Jewish players to play in the league to improve the caliber of play, teach the Israeli players tactics and skills, & help expose the Israeli players to better competition?

    Why hasn't he at least accomplished getting the current teams regular coaching (most of them are run by the players nad have no coaches), regular practice time in Metulla or at least on the small rink in Maalot?

    Why isn't each team playing 20 - 25 game league schedules per season instead of 7 - 10 game schedules?

    Why does he seem content to let the national team and league degrade instead of improve?

    Why does he seem unable to work together with the wealthy Canadian Jewish community that wants nothing more than to help Israeli hockey with money, equipment, coaching & training, and dual-national players? It was that community that built the rink at Metulla, making ice hockey in Israel even possible. It was that community that got Israel into the IIHF. It was that community that has provided most of the equipment. It was that community that convinced Jean Perron - a Stanley Cup winning coach - to coach the national squad for several years. It is that community which has talented dual-national players to provide for the national team who don't want to play for Israel at this point in time due to Matin's insistence on controlling everything and not sharing power with the dual Israeli-Canadian contingent. The dual Israeli-Canadians are perfectly willing to work with the Russian-Israelis, but I have heard from multiple sources that Matin doesn't like to share power or utilize the money that comes in for the true betterment of Israeli hockey......and that is sad. A couple of the Israeli League teams - including Metulla, which is the base club for the U-18's, even lack proper team jerseys.

    This is why Israel is going to Division III, and why it may be an elevator Division II-Division III nation for some time to come.

    There is plenty of native Israeli talent on the Israeli U-18 team. There is still some talent on the men's team.

    But it's impossible for them to get better playing only 10 games per year.

    Why don't the men's or U-18 teams get any exhibition matches prior to each year's world championships like all of their competitors do? Exhibition games are valuable training and practice tools, and help guys develop chemistry playing together. Mistakes can be pointed out and corrected in time for the tournament games.

    Why doesn't the men's team get any practice time together, much less exhibition games, prior to tournament play?

    It's time for change at the top of the Israeli federation, and until that change comes, there will not be positive progress on the ice.
    Last edited by Marc Brunengraber; 19-09-2010 at 07:28. Reason: Corrected sentence re. Australia

  2. #2
    IHF Member RiaRiaHungaria's Avatar
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    Very good questions, Marc; a good, thought-provoking post.

    One would think that amongst organisations like the IDF, Histadrut/Hapoel and Maccabi there could be enough resources to establish some teams and a more serious league. But I doubt any of them would up and start a team without first being prodded some by the federation, but as you said, this hasn't happened. At the very least I think the latter two need to get involved to get a serious league built in Israel.

    Something I've wondered is why that rink was built in Metulla instead of some place like Haifa or Tel Aviv...

    One could draw the conclusion that Matin et al are perfectly content with the situation as it is - the diaspora money is obviously going somewhere. Into his pocket, maybe? In such a case he doesn't have to do much more than he is now, and can always claim various difficulties of getting hockey going seriously in a place like Israel. Of course, anyone familiar with hockey knows that's nonsense; look how far Spain has come, the advances Mexico and the UAE are making... and they don't have one enormous resource that Israel has, namely a large diaspora in places where hockey is a major sport, people who are passionate about the game and are ready and willing to invest money or time towards developing hockey in Israel. In my mind, to have such a resource at hand, yet not be able to develop something at least on an Icelandic or Spanish level, is inexcusable. Look how far Hungary has come since 1990! I don't believe Israeli hockey couldn't have established itself as a regular feature in D1 by now!

    Is there even a mechanism to force a change in the upper echelons of the Federation?

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    Ria - the rink was built in Metulla because the late mayor, Yossi Goldberg, was the driving force behind it. He worked for years to raise the money for a multi-sport recreation facility in Metulla to serve his constituents and draw tourists from the center of the country.

    The reason there is no full-size rink in the Haifa or Tel Aviv is simply the lack of a person with enough energy and vision to drive the project. The large sports organizations have no interest in expanding to a sport like ice hockey - they don't see any money in it for them.

    As for the national federation here in Israel, only the members can drive the change and like anything else , you have to have enough people who share a common goal and have the energy to invest in it.

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    IHF Member David's Avatar
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    Where would the money come from ??? The most Federation can scape is $3-4 mil for a $25-40 mil project in the center of the country.

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    Where would the money come from? Like I said, it will take a crazed person posessed with vast quantities of energy, drive, love of hockey, business acumen and lots of connections with the ability to raise lots of money.
    Yossi Goldberg had it. Unfortunately, nobody else has come up with that same combination of talents yet in order to get a rink further south.

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    IHF Member RiaRiaHungaria's Avatar
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    I'm kind of surprised... I would think that a three-way partnership between diaspora groups, a local business (or some) and (for example) Hapoel Tel Aviv could do something, no? Of course there won't immediately be a financial return, it would be a more long-term thing. In that example, Hapoel wouldn't even really have to put much money up, just maybe allow use of the name - which from a promotional/advertising point of view would be a big help, I think, if the new hockey club has a visible relation with a top sports club.

    As Marc said, there are many in the diaspora who are willing to invest their money in developing hockey in Israel. Perhaps if they pooled resources, they as a group could attract local business into a partnership, and they could then build an ice rink in one of the big cities. And then they could draw in one of the local big-name sports clubs - promoting a (for example) "Hapoel Tel Aviv Hockey Club" would be an instant big boost to the promotion campaign for the sport.

    Maybe this sounds like a dream... but that's how everything good got started, no?

  7. #7
    IHF Member David's Avatar
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    Sergei couldn't do it in the best of times...

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    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    Couldn't, or wouldn't?

    As I said, it's time for a change at the top.

    Sergei Matin has been a great ambassador for Israeli hockey in many respects, but he has done all he can do, in my opinion.

    It's time for a fresh voice, for a new vision, for new ideas.

    He shouldn't be President-for-Life.

  9. #9
    IHF Member David's Avatar
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    Sergei and only him can head it so far, at this momnent in time we need his level headedness and attention to basics and details. /unfortunately we cannot sacrifice distant dreams for reality on the ground

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    IHF Member RiaRiaHungaria's Avatar
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    Level-headedness is a good thing, but I think like everything else, it's good only in moderation. I think a good dose of adventurousness or ambition is needed, as well. Sergei Matin has brought things to this stage, but it's reached a plateau, and perhaps even a dip downwards. Downward trend like that, or even a level trend, is a sign that a change should be very seriously considered. I'm with Marc on this one, I think progress has come as far as it will with Matin, and a new director with new ideas and visions is needed to bring Israeli hockey to the next level.

  11. #11
    IHF Member David's Avatar
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    There is plenty of ideas and visions, however not all of them are backed up by money

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    IHF Member RiaRiaHungaria's Avatar
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    It's one thing to have ideas and visions, another thing entirely to be in a position to act on them - which is why Sergei Matin needs to either start listening to people and working with them, or step aside for someone new.

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    Very interesting theme , isn't it ? Today all Israeli Ice hockey based on enthusiasm of people,that love it. All of things they do from their own money and time . It's not enough just the enthusiasm.
    Why the New Zealand team took the first place in U18 championship last year? Because they was in intensive training since sept 2009. Israeli team - nothing . Everything around the money . Thank's at list for tickets to the championships. It's a great .In Israel sometimes sportsman's fly by own money ,and after them take first places, the ministry of sport give them money back .
    No money - no funny :)
    Sorry for english grammar :)

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    I'm absolutely with Marc on this!
    Having such diaspora and not being able to utilize it - INCOMPETENCE!!!

  15. #15
    IHF Member David's Avatar
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    israhockeyfan, diaspora is not exactly showering money on us....

  16. #16
    IHF Member RiaRiaHungaria's Avatar
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    1. Are you asking?

    2. What results can be shown for the money already given? A certain high point was reached... since then, things seem to be slipping backwards. Still no serious league of any sort, and all the other points already mentioned in previous posts.

    I think people are willing to give - but they expect to see progress, and if there's a long stretch of no progress, or backsliding, they'll be less likely to give...

  17. #17
    IHF Member David's Avatar
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    1. Im not asking I'm stating

    2. Results- mere fact that Israeli hockey is still there is a result of Diaspora money, Matin's managment and sheer enthusiasm

    3. Hockey is slipping for one simple reason - the generation of Russian trained players is retiring , new generation is not as strong

  18. #18
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    Sorry David, but those responses just aren't good enough.

    The bottom line is that Matin simply is unable - or doesn't really want to - work with a wealthy Canadian and American Jewish diaspora that WOULD give money and all kinds of logistical support well beyond what has already been given.............but only if there is new leadership.

  19. #19
    IHF Member David's Avatar
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    Marc one thing is would give and another thing is how much they actually give- no one will give 20-30 mil for a new rink, they may give at most 20-30 G

  20. #20
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    David -

    You had said the federation can come up with $3 or 4 million (U.S.).

    While that would not get a new rink built, it WOULD go very far in terms of -

    1. Donating to / upgrading the Canada Centre, which in turn would give the federation access to more - and better - ice time for its league teams, so that they could get more games and actually get practice time as well.

    2. Advertising - on TV, on radio, in newspapers - so that the league becomes known to the average Israeli.

    3. Upgrading the league - clubs could each be given some decent money (say $100,000 each), and use it to recruit some semi-pro imports and perhaps get certain Israelis to semi-pro status.

    4. Arranging for the national team (or at least its top two lines, perhaps bolstered by two lines worth of non-Israeli citizen Canadian & American Jews) to play in pre-season tournaments against good competition (like they did in 2005 at the Spartak Cup).

    All of this could be done with 3 or 4 million dollars, and would go a long way in helping Israeli hockey.

    The league desperately needs upgrading.

    As it exists now, it will never attract strong Canadian or American Jewish semi-pro or pro players........but if it could, that would not only make the league much stronger, but possibly interest the general Israeli public. For that matter, attracting good semi-pro or pro players, even non-Jews, to the national league would be very helpful in the long run in exposing Israelis to higher levels of competition, like Australia (and recently New Zealand) have managed to do.

  21. #21
    IHF Member David's Avatar
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    Marc 3-4 mil could be accomplished by pooling investors, borrowing and stretching to the max. Spartak Cup was a financial sinkhole from which federation still did not fully recover. Clubs are going to the Continental cup at their own expense, so are the training camps for the kids in Belarus, done by Icebergs.
    Also remember, 3-4 mil came at pre crisi time, now the deal is survival.
    NO ONE IS SHOWERING MONEY ON US!!!
    And yes the game in Israel does need upgrading but it requres MAJOR funds !!!

  22. #22
    IHF Member David's Avatar
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    Marc youu are in the dream world with regards to semi-pro league and foreigners..

  23. #23
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    .......And that is EXACTLY why new leadership is desperately needed.

    NOTHING will change for the better until somebody new, with new contacts and new ideas, takes over as President of the Israeli Ice Hockey Federation.

    Sergei has done all that he could.......it's time for him to step aside.

  24. #24
    IHF Member David's Avatar
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    We all have wonderful ideas up to wazoo, unfortunately financial problems limit their implementation. Somebody new and radical might just financially annihilate Israeli Hockey...

    As Sergei sad to me once- we can even do super series vs NHL teams if we only had the money.

    Sergei is the right man from knowing the ins and outs to running the books he is the one.

  25. #25
    IHF Member David's Avatar
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    BTW my dream is to see federation earning money...

  26. #26
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    David, we both love & support Israeli hockey.

    However, we'll have to agree to disagree here.

    I firmly believe a new leader is needed, and those calls will only get louder if the national team fails to advance back to IIHF Division II this upcoming spring.

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    IHF Member David's Avatar
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    then its agreed

  28. #28
    IHF Staff Steigs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc Brunengraber View Post
    David, we both love & support Israeli hockey.

    However, we'll have to agree to disagree here.

    I firmly believe a new leader is needed, and those calls will only get louder if the national team fails to advance back to IIHF Division II this upcoming spring.
    I'd be absolutely astouded if they failed to advance, Marc.
    I guess it really depends on who can afford to travel to South Africa, but out of the three teams that would have at least a chance to upset Israel (GRE, RSA, TUR) I'd say the latter also will face the same issue.
    The Greeks have shown huge dedication in travelling en masse to every tournament, but whether they'll have the depth needed to take down the Israelis is debatable.
    The South Africans should be expected to have their best possible roster, or something damn close to it, being the hosts, so that should be a pretty interesting match.

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    They (Matin & Belo) could start by not shutting down any new voice or idea.

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    With all due respect to anyone who may get offended, what Israel hockey needs most right now is less Russian and more Israeli influence (if not Israeli then Canadian/American).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steigs View Post
    I'd be absolutely astouded if they failed to advance, Marc.
    I guess it really depends on who can afford to travel to South Africa, but out of the three teams that would have at least a chance to upset Israel (GRE, RSA, TUR) I'd say the latter also will face the same issue.
    The Greeks have shown huge dedication in travelling en masse to every tournament, but whether they'll have the depth needed to take down the Israelis is debatable.
    The South Africans should be expected to have their best possible roster, or something damn close to it, being the hosts, so that should be a pretty interesting match.
    If the team is like last year, bank on it they stay in Div. III
    Last edited by Hckeyguy25; 07-12-2010 at 08:35.

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    Or at least make a decent tryout for the National Team, instead of choosing they're friends

  33. #33
    IHF Member David's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hckeyguy25 View Post
    With all due respect to anyone who may get offended, what Israel hockey needs most right now is less Russian and more Israeli influence (if not Israeli then Canadian/American).
    Marc this is the quote exactly reflecting the views and the moods

  34. #34
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    Not mine, David.

    Let me be clear: There is no Israeli hockey without Russian Jewry being involved. Period.

    Let me be clear again: Sergei Matin and his inner circle has done an incredible amount of hard work for Israeli hockey over the course of many years.

    All I and many other people are looking for is (i) answers to our questions - real answers, with details, instead of one-line cliches, (ii) the things that are broken to be fixed with the ideas that do not cost money, and (iii) the federation to be run more openly and fairly.

    That's it in a nutshell.

  35. #35
    IHF Member David's Avatar
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    (i) they are looking for "answers " in a very peculiar way by pouring shit (ii) all "ideas" require money (iii) neither me nor you have perfect idea of how the fedration is run , I have much better idea though and i think its very fair, you have no idea

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hckeyguy25 View Post
    With all due respect to anyone who may get offended, what Israel hockey needs most right now is less Russian and more Israeli influence (if not Israeli then Canadian/American).
    Now that my quote has been used to against me, I guess, allow me to defend/resay what I mean.

    There always will be and should be a russian influence in Israel Hockey.

    I feel though it's time to get more Israeli influence within the federation, to work with the current people in charge.

    You have to remember, whenever I originanly wrote this it was before this season started when there was, for lack of a better word, resentment towards the federation.

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