In 2008 the International Ice Hockey Federation is holding the world championships in Canada for the very first time. Obviously the worlds clash with the NHL playoffs from a timing stand point, and traditionally the worlds aren't as overly accepted in Canada as they are over in Europe, but somehow it seems odd that hockey's world championships have never been held in the sport's motherland.
What makes it even weirder is 2008 marks the 100th anniversary of the IIHF, a fact I don't think a lot of North American fans realized until recent marketing campaigns.
With the games coming to Quebec City and to Halifax, the IIHF has many commemorative projects in the works, including special events, ceremonies, and interactive exhibits both in person and online. A full list of events can be seen here.
For hockey book lovers, the IIHF has just released a beautiful 228 page coffee table book, World of Hockey: Celebrating a Century of the IIHF. The project was closely directed by Szymon Szemberg and largely written by veteran power writer Andrew Podnieks. The project also had special contributions from some of international hockey's foremost experts, including my buddies Lucas Aykroyd and Patrick Houda.
The book chronicles the worldwide growth of the game hockey, concentrating most of its attention outside of North America. It examines how hockey developed in Europe and elsewhere from an aristocratic game into a 65 member nations that comprise the IIHF today. Every nation, even Argentina, India and South Africa, are given time in this undertaking.
The book is incredibly readable, and highly educational. It opens with a look at the birth of hockey in Montreal, and moves to the birth of what became the IIHF.
Houda writes chapter 2, "Canada shows Europe how to play the game." It is simply eloquent writing, smooth and flowing, but with typical Houda trivia facts thrown in. As with anything Houda contributes, you will find yourself learning the most interesting of facts, such as the story of Romania's Prince "Bazu" Cantacuzino, decorated athlete and war hero.
The book moves on through the decades, looking at the rise and collapse of an early Czechoslovakian powerhouse and then the sheer dominance of the Soviets. The modern era featuring the end of hockey's power balance is perfectly featured, with looks at recent successes by Czech Republic, Slovakia, Canada and Sweden.
The book is laid out beautifully, with a great selection of photos. The opening collage of all the various national team jerseys captures your interest immediately, but my favorite image has to be that of the Hungarian hockey fan on page 176.
The book includes an extensive statistics section, as well as in depth looks at key international hockey legends such Paul Loicq, Harry Watson, Jaroslav Drobny, Harry Sinden, Viktor Tikhonov, Borje Salming, Vladislav Tretiak, Dominik Hasek, Jari Kurri, Ryan Smyth and Peter Bondra. The women's game also is given great coverage.
The IIHF's greatest moments are all featured, including Peter Forsberg’s 1994 Olympic-winning shootout goal, Poland’s shocking 6-4 win over the Soviet Union at the 1976 IIHF World Championship, America's Miracle On Ice in 1980, and, even though it wasn't an IIHF event, the 1972 Summit Series.