Aug 272010
 

Wrapping up the 2010 Molson Canadian World Hockey Summit, the final day of the event saw an in-depth look at the women’s game and the challenges around junior player recruitment and retention within the sport we all love. Hayley Wickenheiser, who’s been the voice of women’s hockey and one of it’s strongest advocates, teamed up with some big names in women’s hockey to make their case and it was not only well-received but it was probably one of the most necessary discussions that took place this week.

Hayley, Ashley Ruggeirro of Team USA (and newly appointed IOC member), Mel Davidson and a host of other women’s hockey advocates took the stage today to assess the state of women’s hockey, something that needs incredible attention if the sport is to survive. Some of the statistics raised were simply shocking but at the end of the day there was no surprise that the issues hindering women’s hockey are primarily financial and societal. With that said however there is certainly progress being made and countries like Finland, for example, have seen a 78% growth in their women’s program in the last couple of years.

When the CHB bloggers got together to talk about this issue prior to the summit, the solution we kept circling back to was increased funding and player retention. The funding has to come from the international bodies and today the IIHF’s vice president Murray Costello said on behalf of Rene Fasel and the IIHF that they were committing another 2 million dollars to the development of the women’s game internationally. Coming out of the World Hockey Summit that’s a huge take away in and of itself. The fact that we were able to come away with something concrete is tremendous. If there was one aspect of the summit that was likely to influence change that would come quickly and effectively it was the discussions around the women’s game and that makes the whole event a positive and successful endeavour.

The latter half of the summit’s last day was focused on the retention of youth in our hockey program. Hockey USA has identified that over 40% of their players leave the sport by the age of 9. That’s a huge problem, particularly because the USA is one of the stronger hockey nations. The panel saw representatives from Sweden, Finland, Canada and the USA who shared their programs and the different techniques in which they attempted to improve development of their young players while increasing retention. The resounding message being conveyed was in line with increasing parental support and buy-in to the game as well as making the sport a fun one to play.

It’s not often that the world convenes at an international event like this, and while the big players in the game that attended may not have taken anything away from it, other facets of the game and the international federations in countries that still have very young and developing programs will be affected the most by the discussions that took place this week in Toronto. We still don’t know if the NHL will allow it’s players to go to the Sochi Olympics, and we haven’t come up with a solution to player retention, player recruitment, player safety and player transfer between North America and Europe. With all that said though, the fact that there is the increased potential that change will come as a result is a huge step in the right direction and we can only hope that these global thought leaders in the sport we love so much will take what was tabled here and use it to invoke positive change for the game.

Aug 262010
 

One of the main columns of discussion at the World Hockey Summit from start to finish revolves around growing the game outside of North America where it is already well consumed. The primary targets for world development include the likes of Slovakia and other big hockey countries which have seeen the sport struggle since the economic downturn. Slavomir Lener noted yesterday that talent out of Slovakia has almost halved since 2002 and that trend is representative of European hockey struggling a little since many major league sponsors walked away from the game when the going got tough.

With those targets in mind however it was surprising to hear certain statistics from Timo Lumme of the International Olympic Committee as he talked about the momentum hockey has, as a sport, coming out of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. When discussing broadcast statistics it was initially surprising to hear that Vancouver’s approximately 110 hours of hockey that was broadcast during the games was actually the second most hockey broadcast during the Olympics with Italy having broadcast over approximately 250 hours worth of the sport we love. What was surprising to hear was of average viewerships of televised games in countries like Poland, France, China, Brazil, Great Britain and South Korea over 1.5 million. China topped out at 4 million and the average of all aforementioned countries was over 2 million viewers per country watching Olympic hockey at any given time.

In more exotic countries like Brazil that comes as some what of a surprise, Poland surprises me a little but less just because it’s surrounded by countries in which hockey has established a respectable presence. China and South Korea however aren’t as shocking as you’d think. A representation of an Asian hockey association attending the summit made specific mention that there has been a huge increase in hockey development and hockey presence in the Pacific Rim since the 1998 Nagano Olympics. Pre-Nagano only 5 teams in that Pacific Rim area had national hockey teams; today, that number has grown to 14 teams. He cites that this was largely due to the spectacle of the 1998 Olympics and because it was the first time NHL players attended the games – fuel for the fire that NHL players attending international tournaments is a positive thing for the development of hockey at an international level. He also mentioned the current development of a junior program to develop the sport and increase parity between that region of the world and the current hockey powers at play. I wouldn’t be surprised if we one day say an increase in the number of players of Asian decent. It’s a great step forward for the sport and with the way China wants to field a competitive team in every sport they attempt you can’t help but think they’re going to start by trying to be the best Asian team in the world.

When you look at countries like France it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’re interested in hockey. They’ve been playing hockey in France for years and although the fact the only French born player NHLer (or rather ex-NHLer now) is Cristobal Huet, the country is not new to the sport. Similarly, Great Britain had a very respectable average viewership but they’ve also been playing hockey there for some time. With the presence of leagues like the English Premier Ice Hockey League (EPIHL) in some of these non-traditional hockey markets there is a means to foster the sport and grow it globally so that one day it can rival the popularity of the worlds most popular sport, soccer.

The reason hockey has taken off so largely has been due to the media coverage it received, or more specifically, the coverage it received at the Olympics. The Olympics is the grandest stage of them all. The lack of specific league affiliation and the power of national pride and interest in such a globally respected and anticipated event combined to make the Olympics the ultimate platform for the game to be “sold” to the casual or non-fan. The fact that the storyline behind hockey was so poetic and for lack of a word “poetic” certainly helped to amplify the fact hockey is the most popular winter sport. After Vancouver’s broadcasting of the Olympics and the tens of countries and hundreds of broadcasting federations that were present to cover the games, it’s no surprise that it’s getting traction and starting to emerge as a sport that people are interested in, in non-traditional markets. The biggest challenge is obviously that of language and with the help of different media conveying the sport in a translated form that’s locale friendly the initial hurdle, has been overcome. The next challenge is getting these hockey-developing nations to understand the game. Translating the game is one issue but understanding how it works, or rather not understanding how it works can be as large a barrier to entry as translation. It’s clear that with the development of junior programs in these non traditional markets (Pacific Rim and even Russia [mentioned by Fetisov]) that steps are being taken to grow the game and have it be more than just something that’s watched on TV.

Today at the summit we heard comments from the President of the Hockey Federation of Iceland as well as the Irish Hockey Federation and while their numbers are still small, things are all relative. Their presence and interest in developing the game in their respective countries is the initial step that needs to be taken in order to develop junior players and grow the game at a grass roots level before it can be adopted as a mainstream sport in these different nations. A lot of changes from the summit are not going to come in mainstream leagues as complex as the NHL, KHL SEL or those at a similar level. The federations that are going to value the discussion at this summit the most are those that are still watching the sport emerges in their countries and those are the ones that are going to be the most actionable when they return to their different corners of the world to play hockey.

Aug 252010
 

The big topic of debate in the global hockey world lately has been around whether NHL superstars will be at the Sochi Olympics in 2014. After today’s discussions a few things have come to light:

1. Rene Fasel says he will wait as long as it takes for the NHL to make a decision to participate in the Olympics.
2. Gary Bettman reinforces the fact that his lack of decision to attend the Olympics does not mean he has decided not to attend the 2014 games in Russia
3. Brian Burke going off the wall will never ever get old.

As a fan taking the media’s opinion on something can be very dangerous and on an issue like this it’s extremely interesting to get the insight and opinion on a situation so controversial from the most influential thought leaders in the world of hockey. With names like Burke, Medvedev, Fasel, Fetisov, Kreuger, Daly and Bettman all chiming in on the issue of NHL players at the Olympics there was resounding message they all had in common: They all want to have NHL Players at the Olympic games. Whether that is feasible is another issue altogether.

The message from the NHL and it’s ambassadors Bettman, Daly, Burke and Holland amongst others was simple. The NHL hasn’t said no yet, the NHL would like to send it’s members, and with a few compromises between the IOC and the NHL there is every possibility in the world to make that happen. The thing we cannot lose sight of in all of this however is that hockey is a business. As fans we take the entertainment, we take the sport and we take the hockey and forget that there is someone right at the top that is making or losing money on the product we see displayed on the ice.

That said there are a few things to keep in mind before going forward:

1. Players that play at the Olympics get no compensation. At the 2010 Olympics they were given $1000 and a plane ticket for them to bring a spouse or family member over.
2. The NHL had to give up 140 of it’s best players for two weeks with salaries totaling over 2 billion dollars.
3. The decision to send NHL players to the Olympic games is not Gary Bettman’s. The decision is that of the NHL’s Board of Governors which amongst others is comprised of the 30 NHL team owners.
4. The Vancouver Olympics were the perfect storm.
5. We can sit and debate this all day but at the end of it all things are easier said than done.

Three things were pretty resounding coming out of the discussion around sending NHL players to the Olympics: For the state of the game it is necessary to send the best players to play the best players, you cannot generalize the effect of players attending the Olympics across all teams, and the owners of the NHL are the deciding factor at the end of the day. For Canada, hockey is easily the most popular sport and a two-week break from the NHL is of no consequence to that team’s revenue or local city’s interest in the team. Brian Burke also alluded to his Toronto Maple Leafs saying that there weren’t affected by the games at all. Burke then also shed light to the fact that the two week break had a big effect on his former team the Anaheim Ducks. He specifically mentioned that the team noticed significant loss in interest from the fans after the sport disappeared for two weeks. As an owner of an NHL team if your team doesn’t make the playoffs that could make or break your season financially.

Another concern always raised is the chance of a player getting injured at the Olympics. Igor Kuperman was cheeky in a lot of his comments on the situation but Ken Holland made it easy to sympathize with his side when he explained that when Steve Yzerman played through an injury in the Salt Lake Olympics in 2002 doing so meant he didn’t play a single regular season game after the games and had to be on severe pain killers to play in the Olympics for Detroit. He said this year Holmstrom had a similar bone on bone knee injury which required attention and his decision to withdraw from the Olympics allowed him to play out the rest of the regular season and the playoffs. He also pointed out how that in 2002 losing a player due to injury or fatigue wasn’t a big deal, the winged wheel was flying high. Having players come back fatigued after the 2010 Olympics when you’re sitting in 9th place 2 points out of the playoff spot is a completely different situation which as a GM and owner makes you reluctant to send your players to the grandest of international stages.

The feel at today’s summit meetings were very much filled with tension. The European representatives were very adamant that NHL players needed to be at the games and NHLPA representatives Daniel Alfredsson and Jamie Langenbrunner reinforced that the players wanted to be there. The business side of the game continues to pre-occupy the decision makers in this big issue with solutions of revenue sharing from Olympic hockey profits being offered as a potential solution. At the end of the day the impact of the Olympics on teams is different. Some teams like the Canucks see as many as seven of their players attend and other teams send only one or two players. Ken Holland did tell us that of the thirty owners in the NHL the split for and against was pretty even seeing about 10 owners for them, 10 against them and another 10 that are sitting on the fence.

There’s a lot of time between now and 2014 and if Fasel is ready to wait for Bettman and Bettman is ready to take his time only time will tell. Two things are sure and one is that there will definitely be a decision by 2013 as Bettman said owners need an entire year to plan ahead for the impact that the Olympics will have on their team. The other is Ovechkin and Malkin are going to be in Sochi regardless of the NHL’s decision. They made that clear when the issue first arose and I think you’ll find players of all nationalities abandoning their contractual obligations for two weeks to don their national sweaters with pride.

Aug 252010
 

In Vancouver we lay witness to one of the best executed Olympics in the history of the games and in a two weeks that at time seemed as if it was scripted like a fairytale we witnessed what Brian Burke referenced today as, “the perfect storm”. Today’s topic of discussion, conversation and debate revolved around international tournaments, specifically the 2010 Olympics that the world just witnessed in Vancouver and the establishment of a potential world hockey agenda.

It was interesting in particular to hear Brian Burke and Ken Holland speak and present both perspectives with little bias considering both have experience as a GM on both the NHL and international sides of the fence. The overwhelming consensus with reference to the games was that they were a huge success. They were successful on not just a financial front both across the world; it was also clear that hockey is growing as a sport to watch. An interesting note from John Furlong was that, after soccer, hockey is the sport of preference internationally and the impact of mens hockey at the Olympics was not seen just in North America as TV ratings set new records but around the world.

Timo Lumme of the IOC gave us a statistical breakdown of the Olympics and his key message shared through statistics was that hockey needs to capitalize on the momentum it has moving forward from the 2010 games. When looking at broadcasting figures it was a tad surprising to find out that the nation that showed the most hours of hockey coverage was Italy (just over 250) with Canada in second (over 110) but the really telling stats came with viewership numbers. It was no surprise that some of the highest average television audiences of the sport at the time came from countries like Canada, Russia, USA and Sweden, but to find out that Great Britain had an average viewership of hockey games at 1.8 million, China over 4 million, South Korea over 2 million, and Poland and Brazil over 1.5 million the message is clear — hockey has established it’s biggest global presence ever. I’ll touch on that in more detail in another post.

The other interesting aspect of the day was a presentation by new Oilers assistant coach Ralph Kreuger. He laid out a presentation with a plan for the establishment of a global hockey agenda that would see the introduction of a four year cycle as a part of a six year plan. It included a World Cup every four years, a World Championship every two years, a World U23 every two years and then of course the Olympics every four years. He revisited bringing back the Victoria Cup which was strongly supported by Alexander Medvedev, president of the KHL and made a strong case for best-on-best tournaments as a part of an international schedule. The session got pretty heated as the day went on. We saw Brian Burke and Glen Healy get into it with some pretty bad shots taken at the Leafs by Healy and it seemed like just about everyone wanted to take on Bill Daly and the NHL as Daly proved again that he’s merely a Gary Bettman clone. Surprisingly the entire conversation it was Medvedev that stayed cool as a cucumber.

The discussion today was a big step forward for the game. The audience for the topics at hand was ideal and with representation of many hockey federations here, over 60 international delegates, and panels with the biggest and most influential names in hockey, today was by far the most gritty day of them all. Tomorrow marks the last day of the summit after several long days of discussion that have covered a lot of ground. Whether we will see change come from the topics discussed here in Toronto remains to be seen. Tomorrow’s talks will be of the most importance as the women’s game needs to be addressed very seriously and that particular aspect of the summit is the one topic which is the most likely to influence change in the sport.

Aug 252010
 

Today Bettman had a presser for the first time since the first Kovalchuk contract was revoked and it was interesting to hear his take on the proceedings around the Olympics as well as the few NHL related cap questions he answered. It was also interesting to digest the press conference yourself as opposed to the media angle which chops up the footage and manipulates the context. For that reason I’ve actually posted the entire press conference we had today (albeit a short one) so that you can interpret the answers for yourself. One thing I do have to do is hand it to Bettman. You can tell he likes to be in control because he’ll never answer the question you ask him. Instead he’ll tell you what he wants to tell you. Today was particularly informative because of the insight into the real complications that lie behind the NHL’s involvement in the Olympics but I’ll touch in another post. For now I give you, Gary Bettman.

Aug 242010
 

Day 2 at the World Hockey Summit was focused on player and skill development and the development of junior hockey internationally. The two sessions were run by Bob McKenzie and Jim Hughson respectively and each were filled with a lot of meaningful content and analysis. While the content was good and insightful the interesting thing will be to see what action is taken on the talks but before I get into that let me recap some of the big things discussed.

The morning focused on issues of player retention and safety in junior hockey. The safety stuff we’ve all heard before but the interesting fact I walked away with was that in the US, the average hockey player leaves the sport at the age of nine. If the future of the sport is to progress in our neighbour to the South then that has to change. The game has to be enjoyable for kids and if that environment is created we’ll not only retain them longer but their child like competitiveness will fuel their development much further than other methods could. The session saw the insight of people like Flyers coach Peter Laviolette and former NHLer Brendan Shanahan who both provided the perspective of being in an elite league like the NHL but who also shared their thoughts through the eyes of fathers with kids coming up in the game.

The most interesting part of the day had to be the Q&A with Rene Fasel. When polled with a variety of questions from Jim Hughson we found out that he likens to enjoying hockey on the North American sized rink as opposed to a European sized rink and his thoughts on NHL expansion to Europe were fiercely protective of the European size game. At one point he indicated he would fight the NHL tooth and nail if they tried to expand into Europe making very clear that the game was in no state of jeopardy over there and that they had to work together to fight common enemies like Europe’s favourite sport soccer, as opposed to fighting themselves for attention.

The afternoon session was oriented around the evaluation of the World Juniors and how we can develop junior programs in Europe. After a Q&A session with IIHF President Rene Fasel facts about struggling hockey in Europe were brought to light, most notably that hockey players are leaving Europe at a young age to come to the CHL and develop their game. The majority of the conversation was actually oriented around discussion and debate which bashed the CHL left right and center. It was surprising to see such European patriotism as the international panel that featured members from Hockey USA, the NCCA, the Swedish Federation, the Slovak Federation and Hockey Canada was fiercely protective of the identity of their game and their players leaving for North America.

Looking upon all we discussed in day two however doesn’t seem to shed light to any new issues. What was clear from the beginning and only reinforced by these discussions is the fact that we’ve been talking about these issues for years. Player transfer disagreements, player safety, development of the sport at a grass roots level, these are all things that have been on the table for years and new ground isn’t being broken. The interesting thing will be how much of this is acted upon. These talks have taken place before, these issues have been beaten to death before, the question is will this revisiting of them result in any difference. Daniel Alfredsson and Bob Boughner put it best when they said that the change may come today, it may come tomorrow, or it may come in a year. We have no idea when it’s going to happen. Right now we’re establishing a means for it to happen by taking the first step and it will be interesting to see which organization takes the lead in progressing the issues talked about at this summit.

The area of this summit that stands to have the most influence on change is going to be the discussions of the women’s game. Hayley Wickenheiser is here with an agenda and that specificity in her attendance is part of the reason the brief discussion of the women’s game has been productive. Further detriment of women’s hockey stands to affect the sport we love as a whole and it’s important that if any item is acted upon after this summit, it be something to do with helping progress women’s hockey in the world.

Aug 242010
 

One of the ideas tabled during the hot stove discussions yesterday was during an address of the state of the game of hockey globally. An interesting concept that was tabled (which I think is more and more brilliant the longer I think about it) was tabled by Bob McCown and it was the suggestion of an international hockey tournament similar to the UEFA Champions League in European football. It’s the concept of pitting the best teams from hockey leagues around the world in an international tournament with the victor laying claim to one of the more prestigious titles in hockey. The concept is something that would be hugely beneficial for the sport of hockey for a number of reasons, many of which are stepping stones in the solutions to the issues raised at the summit.

The introduction of a tournament that saw the best of the leagues in the NHL, and European hockey federations across the country would be a huge step for the game as far smoothing the relationship between the North American and International games. The NHL has often tried to sell the game internationally but in countries like Germany where European football is the dominant sport, hockey doesn’t necessary garner the same household attention. However if you had an international tournament with teams more local to the fans in the area and region you foster a greater interest and benefit the game as a whole. It’s a win-win situation as it raises European interest in the NHL teams that would participate and would certainly draw new fans to the sport which serves to help the sport grow outside of NA which is so important.

The relationship between the NHL and the IIHF has been one with certain frictions because of certain opinions on the value of tournaments like the World Championships. The NHL isn’t keen on it’s players participation in these tournaments however if you were to include the NHL and it’s teams (owners) in a greater capacity (more than just taking players for national teams) it’s likely that things could be smoothed out between the international governing body of hockey and the NHL while helping to grow the game. With the future of tournaments like the World Championships unsure, perhaps a replacement idea like this would thrive and benefit all parties concerned.

I’m a huge fan of the international game and just thinking about such a tournament excites me. Having a tournament that featured the two best teams in the NHL, SEL, KHL to name a few of the leagues that would participate, would be hockey and national pride at their best outside of the Olympics. It’s an interesting concept and certainly one that has a huge potential to foster grass roots growth. From the business aspect of the game there is potential for a hugely successful event. It’s food for thought, it’s a neat concept, and I for one would love to see this idea develop into something one day.

Aug 242010
 

With the first day of the World Hockey Summit wrapped up one thing is certain – there’s sure to be a lot more great discussion about moving the game forward. I knew heading into the summit there was going to be insightful analysis of the game at an global level and there certainly was no shortage of that. With representation from all bodies of hockey the first day’s hot stoves were not only informative but the discussion revolved around finding solutions to the issues raised. Steve Yzerman and Hayley Wickenhesier were amongst the panelists that were driving some very positively oriented discussion.

One of the main issues was fostering grass roots hockey not just in North American cities that aren’t known hockey markets but across the world in hockey nations that are slowly emerging as international top tier contenders. For this I’ve always pointed to the grass roots efforts and tactics that the Dallas Stars have implemented to create a hockey market from the junior level to the senior level in Texas of all places. This was actually the very same example of success that Steve Yzerman gave as the panel’s consensus was loud and clear that senior hockey needs to invest in establishing the appropriate infrastructure for the junior level to thrive and flourish.

Two of the other remaining hot stoves featured an animated Brian Burke who as always provided some good quotes and covered the player agent relationship and it’s benefit to young players’ careers as well as the relationship between the NHL and the transfer of European Players to North America. The talks about European transfer brought to light the fact that the NHL and the IIHF are far from establishing a collective transfer agreement, however it did shed some light on the NHL’s attempts to work with international federations. Bill Daly mentioned the NHL has relationships in place with the hockey federations of Finland, Sweden, Slovakia, Germany and Denmark and that they are making progress in establishing a working relationship with other countries so as to avoid another Radulov-like situation in the future. For interests sake, the deals in place with the NHL and the aforementioned countries are to the tune of a $225,000 player development fee paid to each country’s federation for the transfer of any player to North America and the NHL. This is with regard to transfers of players no longer under contractual obligation to European teams.

The hockey discussion wouldn’t be complete without a look at the successes of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and the focus was on rink size. For the first time in history the Olympics were played on NHL sized ice and we saw the game work with international rules on smaller ice surface for two weeks. The question asked was whether standardizing the game globally was important and after getting the input of Daniel Alfredsson who enjoyed the smaller rink during the Olympics, Bob McCown raised an interesting point which to me made a lot of sense. Players are getting bigger. The desired player size is growing and players are getting bigger and stronger. The game has to grow with the players and for the sake of the game it makes sense to move to a larger sized rink if even gradually.

The other hot topic of the first day was the look at the women’s game. This was a discussion I was really looking forward to and it didn’t disappoint with Hayley Wickenheiser leading the discussion with insightful perspective and suggestions to growing the game. The consensus was that the women’s game needs to be supported and developed. Hayley was spot on when she said “The loss of women’s hockey at the Olympics would effect the game globally”. She also shed light on the fact that the IIHF is planning on investing more money into the development of the women’s game in the near future and that this sudden attention to the female side of the sport we love is going to lead to positive change.

With the first day under our belt there’s a lot to look forward to during the rest of the week. Let me know if you have any questions and we’ll table whatever we can.

Aug 222010
 

On Monday the who’s who in the hockey world are coming together to discuss the state of the game at the Molson World Hockey Summit and I’m privileged to be one of the chosen bloggers to represent both the blogging community Molson while covering the event. Now when I say the hockey world, I don’t just mean Bettman and the NHL’s brass. This is an international gathering which will see the heads of national bodies such as Hockey Canada, Hockey USA, and the Swedish Federation (amongst others), come together with the NHL’s brass, the IIHF, ambassadors of womens hockey and junior hockey, all for the purpose of furthering the sport on a global level.

The event starts Monday and runs through Thursday and through a series of breakout sessions and discussion lead and facilitated by some of the most respected names in the hockey: Brian Burke, Steve Yzerman, Hayley Wickenheiser and Daniel Alfredsson. This global look at the game and International “state of the union” style meeting is going to touch on a lot of important aspects of hockey including:

Player Skill Development Initiatives: Understanding the need for and establishing a long term plan for player development will assist player recruitment and retention and provide opportunities for a safe, positive, and enjoyable experience in youth hockey and foster long term participation in the sport at all levels of play

Junior Development of hockey in the World: Assessing the results and figures from IIHF World (U20) Juniors, the Olympics and the NHL Draft; men’s competitive level is declining and European development is suffering. Is it just a cyclical or a worrisome trend?

Vancouver 2010 Evaluation: Evaluating the 2010 Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament, helping hockey to benefit long-term from the unprecedented success by sustaining the positives while developing other areas

Establishing a Long-Term Global Event Agenda: Exploring the possibilities to provide hockey with a long-term international event agenda for both national team and club events, further enhancing the IIHF-NHL cooperation for the growth the game

Women’s Hockey after Vancouver 2010: In light of IOC President Jacques Rogge’s comments with respect to Female hockey worldwide – what steps need to be taken to close the gap and to insure women’s hockey remains an Olympic sport

Growing Participation in Hockey: Growing hockey means both recruiting new players and retaining our current ones. It is important to promote positive messaging about our game and share best practices from around the world.

Heading to the summit one of the things that excites me the most is the chance to explore the game and development of the game at the international level. As a Canucks fan discussion far too often revolves around the league and changes that we want to see made at a focused level. Being a die-hard Canucks fan is one thing, but getting the opportunity to embrace the die-hard hockey fan in me doesn’t come along very often.

A couple of weeks ago, we held a hockey roundtable of sorts to discuss these issues with current and future CHB bloggers (J.J., Alix, Matt and Tom) and readers (Spiro, Justin and Ryan) for the purpose of bringing some thoughts and ideas to Toronto.

In Toronto, I’m teaming up with Angela MacIsaac of the Calgary Flames loyalty, as well as Darrin Reynolds and Justin Kendrick of The Hockey Card Show to bring you the World Hockey Summit through Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, you name it.

You can follow us on Twitter: @wldhockeysummit
We’ll be throwing stuff on Facebook: World Hockey Summit Facebook Page
All other info is on the website: http://www.worldhockeysummit.com/

We’ll also be getting a little crazy on Youtube but those videos can be found through our Facebook and Twitter pages as we give you the inside scoop on what’s happening. One of the things to know about this summit is that we’re there to be your voice. We’re able to take questions that you the fans have, and table them when appropriate in the attempt to get a response from the people that ultimately make the game changing decisions we see trickle down to each game.

So what are you waiting for? Have any questions, let us know what they are and we’ll do our best to get them answered!

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