Szymon Szemberg of the IIHF published a fire-breathing missive today calling out those hockey players who are healthy enough to compete in their respective league playoffs, but decided for any number of reasons not to represent their country at the World Championships taking place in Germany right now:
The IIHF member national associations spend substantial money – often earned by organizing junior championships or from revenue generated by the IIHF World Championships or Olympics – on development programs designed to increase the skill level of players.
The National Team Development Program (NTDP) in Ann Arbor, Michigan has cost USA Hockey millions and has laid the foundation for the development of players such as Patrick Kane, Jack Johnson, Erik Johnson, Phil Kessel, Ryan Suter, Zach Parise, John-Micheal Liles, Mike Komisarek, and Ryan Kesler.
Thanks to this program, USA Hockey has had tremendous success at the IIHF World U18 Championship and is an annual gold-medal contender at the U20 event (World Juniors). But primarily, thanks to this program, American prospects are fundamentally better educated than ever before, which of course boosts their chances of a successful career.
When Canada re-entered international competition in 1977, not many observers where impressed by the general skill level of Canadian players. But it was during that period that Hockey Canada invested serious resources into the Program of Excellence which today has paid off in two Olympic gold medals, five men’s IIHF World Championship gold medals, and 15 World Junior gold medals.
This raises a natural question - should prominent Nashville Predators like Shea Weber & Ryan Suter have participated for Canada and the U.S., respectively? Several other NHL players who were eliminated in the playoffs have headed right over to Germany, including Alexander Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Ryan Smyth, and many more.