The Game is Global, Part 4: The state of play for South Korea, Austria, Italy, and Great Britain
A lot has happened in the hockey world since the instalment in the Game is Global series. First, the IIHF determined that China would indeed play at its own tournament, and would not be replaced by Norway. Then due to concerns around quarantining in China, the NHL and NHLPA made the disappointing but understandable decision to withdraw from the games. And finally, that wonderful holiday tradition, the World Juniors -- along with many other international competitions -- was cancelled.
The pain of not having NHLers at the Olympics is an acute one, not only because of the NHL's ridiculous decision not to send players to the 2018 edition but also because the game really never has been as skilled or as global as it is presently. My heart goes out to all the players who deserve to be there and all the fans who were looking forward to seeing them. In particular, a nation like Denmark, which has spent 90 years playing this game and finally qualified only for their NHLers (who played crucial roles in getting them there) to no longer be able to play.
Ice hockey has a very real problem. It does not have a regularly established best-on-best competition where its top players are all available and can play. This is no disrespect to the IIHF World Championships, which are a wonderfully run tournament. But you cannot ignore that not all the best players are there because of the NHL playoffs. It is really quite disappointing because this sport deserves better. In the time since the last "best-on-best" hockey tournament (one not including gimmick teams), we've had two FIFA World Cups, two UEFA European Championships, two FIBA Basketball World Cups, two Rugby World Cups, two Summer Olympics, three T20 Cricket World Cups, a World Baseball Classic, as well as numerous other continental competitions. This article series was born out of this frustration and a realization that when it comes to hockey, despite the provincial nonsense we constantly hear, The Game is Global. So please enjoy our continuation of this series and this wonderful game we love. Let's hope for hockey here in 2022.
Having said all of that... Eoseo osibsio, Willkommen, Benvenuti, and welcome to the fourth edition of The Game is Global. In this edition, we'll look at the state of play for the two nations that share Tyrol, the collection of islands known historically as Albion, and the most recent host of the Winter Olympics. How are South Korea, Austria, Italy, and Great Britain faring in the world of ice hockey and what is in store for fans of these nations in the next four years? Keep reading to find out as we continue our countdown to Beijing!
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