In the meantime the Canadians have become a fixture at the Spengler Cup. This year will mark their 33rd consecutive participation.
Hockey is Canada’s game. That statement says it all. Although other nations have caught up, although even the best Canadian team can be beaten by the Swedes, Russians, Finns, or Americans – even now in 2016 Canada is the hockey nation on this planet. Over 50 percent of all NHL players originate from there, they are the defending world and Olympic champions. Yes, they are that good that their European mercenaries could soon steal HC Davos’ distinction as the Spengler Cup’s record titleholder. They currently sit at 13 titles overall, after having defeated HC Lugano 4-3 in the final last New Year’s eve - HCD has 15. And all that after “only” 32 participations.
So this will be the 33rd consecutive appearance for the Canadians. In the meantime they are as much a part of the Spengler Cup as the idyllic winter landscape or the high-spirited party atmosphere – they have become an establishment. What in 1984 began as experiment (and tournament victory), has truly become a tradition that defines the character of the tournament both on and off the ice. Athletically the team is a reliable force. It offers tempo, toughness, and spectacular play that is always good for a tournament win. Team Canada has already provided numerous hockey highlights, such as the NHL lockout team of 2012, a collection of world superstars (amongst others Tyler Seguin, John Tavares, or Patrice Bergeron) that had the spectators ecstatic. Off the ice the Canadians have managed to help lift the Spengler Cup to a new dimension - on the one side, through their on-ice performances, of course, and their popularity amongst the fans and sponsors, but on the other hand, their mere presence which has made the tournament available on live TV in Canada since 2002.
With each team a title contender
Interestingly it does not matter that much which players are there. Who will be starting in Davos and coached by whom will, as usual, only be released shortly before the tournament begins. Because Canada’s recipe for success lies in the Canadian hockey philosophy rather than a well-rehearsed team, the players barely need any time to settle in. Every child in the motherland of hockey learns to play the Canadian way early on. So there is no need for the coach to experiment or go over tactics for days: He can rely on his players to know how to play. At the same time the friendly atmosphere and a “fairy-tale Christmas” with the entire family ensure that the feel-good and fun factors are always high. That in turn motivates the Canadian players to not just honour the maple leaf on their chest at the Spengler Cup, but also offers the unique opportunity to present themselves to the hockey nation watching on TV at home.