by National Greek Ice Hockey Team on Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 8:44am
There are no words to describe what we witnessed in the live broadcast of the luxembourg-greece game. The result speaks for itself a 0-20 defeat. The team was not able to compete at any point of the game and in any facet of the game and frankly was struggling for every inch of the ice, making just 13 fairly weak shots throughout the whole game while Luxembourg took 60 shots scoring on every third opportunity. This was not a case of bad goaltending but a total team result.
The current result ties the worst that was made the Men's National Team in the history of the sport in our country. The only difference is that the first was in 1995 when athletes (who that year were the best that Greece had to offer at the time had to shovel the snow before practices because the lack of a zamboni at the ice rink in Greece and also the fact that the defeat was against Spain, which currently competes in DivI. Well it took 16 years and the same president of the Greek Federation to lose again with the same difference. In other words, 16 years later and where is the sport on the watch of this president. It is also only the second time in 37 games that the national team has not score a single goal in the game.
So here we are, one year after the greatest success in the Men's National Team winning the silver medal with a 2-1 victory against the Luxembourg, the new national team was humiliated 20-0 and gave Luxembourg (with essentially the same roster as last year) the opportunity to get sweet revenge for last year defeat on home ice.
The President's decision to throw out 16 of the 18 athletes who were part of the best and most successful team ever for our country was without a doubt a wrong decision. Any logical thinking person would believe that the president and members of a sporting associations with athletes who have won a silver medal would do everything they could to find a solution to economic problems, without affecting the players, instead of throwing them off the team because they could not or would not pay the high cost of trainings when it is known the federation has received significant funding prior to this year. This frankly showed that the federation never appreciated what the players have done for the sport. Especially since they were aware since last year that the Ministry of Sports had decided to cut government funding and should of done something earlier to find other means of income or at the very least not use all the previous funding.
Examples of how other federations that truly care about the development of the sport: The Federation of Luxembourg, despite the fact that they were informed only 1½ months before that they will host the world championships in 2010 (when it was cancelled in Greece), and despite the short time period for preparation it managed to find 20 sponsors. Another fine example is New Zealand that won the silver medal in DivII this year. A team that Greece had beat 10-7 in 1995. Over the years, the New Zealand federation made small but steady progress. New rinks were built and money was invested in the right way. Despite the numerous problems facing the sport in Greece, our national team managed a regulation tie New Zealand at World Championships 2009 held in New Zealand, a new zealand team that went on to win gold medal. Two years later, Greece lost 20-0 to a luxembourg team they had beaten 12 months earleir while New Zealand won the silver medal in Div.II. Another good example is Australia who also played in DivIII in 1995 but next year will play in the DivI after winning the gold medal this year. All of this proves that countries with no tradition in ice hockey, but with well-organized Federations truly interested in the progress and development of the sport and their athletes can not only grow hockey in their country, they can achieve success on the world stage. Now back to this years worlds.
Luxembourg was said by most who follow the sport to most likely be the easiest opponent of the 2011 world championship and if the national team eventually loses all its games, which is the most likely scenario based on today's performance, it will be the first time in the history of the sport in our country, that the Mens National Team will return to Greece without having done a single victory in the world. (Not counting of course the paper victory against the Mongolia). The Men's National team, despite the numerous problems it had in Greece over all the past years, always somehow managed to win at least one game in every world championship.
This single game today was enough to destroy the hard work and sacrifices of the athletes all these years. More importantly and damaging is that it also tarnished and embarrassed the country of Greece within the hockey community and to all Greeks here in Greece and abroad.
All of this damage to the sport and to the name of Greece because of the president of the Greek Fedration; a presidency that has lasted for 26 years that has produced little to nothing when compared to other countries federations.
We say once again that athletes competing in the National Team this year are not to blame for the situation that exists in our sport. They have simply been done a great diservice by this Federation president.
Next up, Turkey, Israel and South Africa...