Most people in Canada will be glued to their television sets this Christmas season watching Team Canada at the World Juniors in Malmo, Sweden and threatening anyone who might even contemplate grabbing the remote and changing channels. I, on the other hand, will be constantly switching back and forth from channel to channel, wearing out the return/last button like I wear out my welcome at parties (anyone want to invite me over for New Years? No? Alright).
No, I won’t be switching from the World Juniors to watch “Two Broke Girls” although, I must admit, Kat Dennings is my kind of girl. No, instead I’ll be switching from the World Juniors to the Spengler Cup.
‘Wait.’ I hear you say. ‘Spengler Cup? What is that, some sort of European jockstrap?’
No, it is not. It’s actually an international hockey tournament held every year since 1923 (with the exceptions of 1939, 1940, 1949 and 1956) in the city of Davos, Switzerland.
The Spengler Cup is also thought to be the oldest invitational hockey tournament in the world and for the last 30 years Canada has been invited.
But it’s not your usual Team Canada. You won’t see Sidney Crosby flying down the ice or see Shea Weber blast a slapshot through a net. Nor will you see Roberto Luongo or Carey Price between the pipes for Canada… Unless, of course, the NHL decides to have itself another little lockout, in which case that may be a possibility (Please Gary, no more).
What you will see, however, are a bunch of Canadian hockey players playing the game that they love professionally in European hockey leagues. Many of the players play in the National League A, which is the top league in Switzerland. And while they aren’t bonafide NHL stars, many of them have had a cup of coffee in the world’s greatest hockey league. Players such as Rico Fata (Calgary, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Washington), Joel Kwiatkowski (Ottawa, Washington, Florida, Pittsburgh and Atlanta) and Glen Metropolit (Washington, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, St. Louis, Boston and Montreal) have all represented Canada at the Spengler Cup over the years. Heck, even Alexandre Daigle, quite possibly the biggest first overall bust in the history of the NHL has played in the Spengler Cup.
Another reason to watch the Spengler Cup is because of the fans. Even though you’ll be at home watching the game you can’t help but get caught up in the atmosphere of the event. The fans at the tournament might just be the best hockey fans anywhere. They jump up, sing, dance and bang drums all throughout each game regardless as to who is winning. But be careful, you might find yourself caught up in the moment, standing on your coffee table in the middle of your living room singing along with the Swiss fans.
The 2014 edition will see Team Canada looking to win its 13th Spengler Cup in 30 years. And they’ll try to do so as the defending champions. That in itself should be enough incentive to watch the Spengler Cup.
But if that doesn’t do it for you, perhaps this will. Canada and HC Davos have a rivalry. A huge rivalry.
You see, before Team Canada was invited, Davos, the host team at the Spengler Cup, were dominant to the tune of 15 titles; the most of any team. But since Canada has been there HC Davos has won just five Spengler Cups. They’ve also lost out in the final, to Canada, five different times (1996, 1998, 2002, 2003 and most recently in 2012). And boy, are they angry at us for that! And low and behold, Team Canada is once again in the same group (Cattini) as Davos.
So do yourself a favour. When you’re watching Team Canada slaughter teams like Germany at the World Juniors just grab the remote, hit the guide button, search until you see Spengler Cup on the television and watch it.
You might just find you have a new favourite hockey tournament during Christmas. And the best part is, it’s over before the World Juniors begin the playoff rounds, so you can watch the important games there as well!