The International Ice Hockey Federation has released a lengthy article on their website lambasting players that turned down their national hockey federation's call to play at the World Championships.
Among the players singled out for abuse were Switzerland's Mark Streit, Sweden's Henrik Zetterburg, Niklas Kronwall, Niklas Backstrom, Tomas Holmstrom, and Johan Franzen and of course everyone's favourite whipping boy, Canada's Sidney Crosby.
Ironically enough, the World Ice Hockey Championships were not introduced as a competition between the best players in the world. It's improved since professional players were allowed to participate and often is a good watchable tournament.
Unfortunately for the IIHF, a tournament of lesser players is going to be second rate. In the tournament, the gold medal is often won by whichever nation had the most good players bounced out of the NHL playoffs early.
Szymon Szemberg wrote the story on the IIHF web-site and seems to see players declining to play at the Tournament as some sort of affront to the IIHF. Apparently he believes these players owe something to the IIHF.
What's humorous about that is the fact that the IIHF isn't putting a penny into any of the national hockey associations in any of the member countries. He's just claiming anything those locally funded national bodies have done as being totally as a result of the IIHF.
Meanwhile the IIHF is bankrolled by crowds and TV revenue from their World Championships and especially from the annual World Junior Championships held over the Christmas holidays every year. The IIHF owes a lot more financially to Sidney Crosby and his participation in those tournaments than he does to them, because of course the IIHF hasn't paid Sidney Crosby and again let me say this, one cent.
Now if the national associations want to get on players' cases for lack of participation at this events I guess they at least have a right to do so. The IIHF has no right to do so.
As reported by CP and TSN, Scott Salmond, the men's national team director for Hockey Canada, called the story "inappropriate."
"Sidney Crosby's the guy they singled out—he's played in two finals (in 2008 and 2009), he's played in the second round of the playoffs (this year), he's played in the Olympics for us," said Salmond. "I don't think it's fair to single him out. We respect where he is and we respect what he's done for us and I think what he'll do for us in the future." "
Hockey Canada doesn't have an issue with the level of participation Sidney Crosby has managed internationally for Canada, so how does the IIHF get to have a problem with it?
Sure, the IIHF gets more money and has a better tournament if Crosby shows up. That's their problem, not his. Crosby has given all he has to hockey especially in the last few years and he deserves a chance to decompress after the unsuccessful playoff run that followed his Olympic glory.
Canada has not generally been treated well by the IIHF, as for years it was only comprised of European nations. This kind of treatment of stars who have played internationally in their tournaments before doesn’t make them more sympathetic.
The IIHF should not be surprised when their irrelevant World Championship is ignored and instead be grateful when top quality players agree to participate after along hard NHL season. If they really feel they need these players for the legitmacy of their tournament, maybe they should start paying for them.
Crosby gets plenty of abuse on this side of the Atlantic. If the IIHF decides to start on him that's just piling on.