By Stefan Grüneis / APA from Bratislava
Bratislava – Sweden traveled to Slovakia as a double world champion and starts the first World Cup hat trick in 18 years. Team boss Rikard Grönborg, who will coach the ZSC Lions from Zurich in the future, has 19 NHL players at his disposal.
In total there are ten world champions from 2017 or 2018 present. Defender Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Michael Grabner's club colleague with the Arizona Coyotes, is the only one who has won both gold medals. "The top nations are always able to deploy very good teams. It's amazing what a wide range of first-class players have," said Bader.
This is supported by impressive figures from North America. This season 89 players from the largest Scandinavian country of the NHL were deployed.
28 players exported to the NHL
Sweden has long been the most important exporting country when NHL clubs were looking for supplies. In the past 22 years, no fewer than 14 players have been called by Swedish clubs. In Sweden's talent selection last year, 28 were selected, six in the first round. For comparison: since Michael Grabner and Andreas Nödl in 2006, no NHL club has secured the rights to an Austrian talent.
"About 15 years ago, Swedes turned their training system into new blood and are now benefiting from it. They focus more on individual skills," said Goran Stubb, NHL director of European scouting.
The conditions for the success of Northern Europeans are a broad base of players and suitable infrastructure. Sweden, which has just a little more inhabitants than Austria, has 43,000 young players and 362 ice halls, each about ten times as much as Austria, according to World Association statistics.
Ice hockey world cup in Slovakia
United States – United Kingdom 6: 3 (1: 1.3: 1.2: 1)
Germany – Slovakia 3: 2 (0: 0.1: 2.2: 0)
Switzerland – Norway 6: 3 (1: 1.3: 1.2: 1)
Russia – Italy 10: 0 (4: 0.4: 0.2: 0)