Team European Imperium Advances to the World Cup Finals

Well, kinda. The World Cup of Hockey is going on right now in Toronto, and after finishing second in group A (ahead of The US and The Czech Republic), and then defeating Sweden in the semi-finals, “Team Europe” has advanced to the Finals (against Canada).

As you can see, “Team Europe” does not include all of Europe. Team Europe is made up of the best European players who come from countries that are not quite good enough to form their own national teams. But why even have a Team Europe?

Apparently, the World Cup organizers wanted to have eight teams, but there are only six countries capable of fielding competitive teams.

The top Ice Hockey countries in order:1.) Canada. Nos. 2-4.) The US, Sweden, and Russia (probably in that order, but these three are all pretty even) 5.) Finland—the Finns are competitive because they are especially strong at goaltender. 6.) The Czech Republic—the Czechs are in relative decline. A decade ago they would have been ahead of the Finns. After that, the well gets pretty dry. (Ten-fifteen years ago, Slovakia was good enough to compete independently, but they have declined severely.) So in addition to these six, the World Cup includes Team Europe and Team North America (Americans and Canadians under the age of 24).

Against all expectations (my expectations anyhow), Team Europe has done quite well. In case you were wondering, “Team European Imperium” is composed of players from the following countries:

Denmark-3 (I don’t follow these things as closely as I did as a kid, but I think Denmark is an up-and-comer.)
Slovakia-6 (Five of these six are over the age of 30; as I said, they are a declining power.)