Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On the Topic Of World Juniors Promotions and Relegations

After seeing the scores from Day One of the World Junior Championships and seeing the US demolish Denmark 11-3 and Sweden overtake Latvia 9-4 (the latter being closer until the third period)-- it made me wonder how these more unknown or "developing" hockey countries are able to keep getting into the tournament, only to get trounced in the opening rounds and really only focus on not getting relegated.

Ironically enough, the two teams who did get beat badly were the last two teams who were promoted to the top division of the World Juniors. That also made me wonder about how quick of a turnaround the promoted teams have had after being promoted and if they were only to be relegated that next year. Tracking the last ten tournaments-- here's the results:

2002: Out: France; In: Germany
2003: Out: Germany, Belarus; In: Austria, Ukraine
2004: Out: Austria, Ukraine; In: Germany, Belarus
2005: Out: Germany, Belarus; In: Norway, Latvia
2006: Out: Norway, Latvia; In: Germany, Belarus
2007: Out: Germany, Belarus; In: Denmark, Kazakhstan
2008: Out: Denmark, Switzerland; In: Germany, Latvia
2009: Out: Germany, Kazakhstan; In: Austria, Switzerland
2010: Out: Latvia, Austria; In: Germany, Norway
2011: Out: Germany, Norway; In: Denmark, Latvia

As you can see, the turnover in the nations is something that is alarming in the fact that almost as quick as the teams get into the top division of the WJC, they get out just as quickly. The only exception to the point right now is Switzerland, who seems to have found their stride in their junior program and is on their third straight tournament.

I'm all for the ideal of developing nations getting a chance to be displayed and have their chance to go against the top dogs in order to see what they are made of, but at what point do you wonder if the turnover is too much to deal with??

When you look at these results, you have to wonder if there's an actual quick fix-- because the teams who get relegated are often too good for the Division 1A championships. There doesn't seem to be a middle ground which could be alarming or just happenstance of the system. The IIHF can only do so much with the system they have in place without creating another division which will only persist the middling effect. That, or have some sort of rules that if you do get relegated you have to have a time-set before you can actually be promoted to the higher rank or a if you get promoted, a time-set before you get relegated again. Seems simple enough-- but at the same time; just seems like it would create more of a confusing situation.

Also, you have to wonder if the whole idea of less teams could be better, which would never happen because they seem to have the formula down right now with the amount of teams and the scheduling around it. That, and it'd be another situation like we have now where if one of the teams were relegated outside of the "Big Eight" in hockey, they would dominate in the lower division and be right back up again.

For me, it seems like a bad situation where you have teams going out there and getting embarrassed on the world stage like the WJC has become. Plus, it could be off-putting for the kids at home watching this game in their own countries because while they'll have players here and there come out of their country and make it the pros because of individual skill-- the skill as a whole just isn't there and would dampen some spirits in the process.

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