It’s Wednesday and there’s a lot going on in hockey right now, so it’s probably a good time to get you caught up on some of the links from around the United States of Hockey.
— When it comes to marketing the game of ice hockey, television deals may be the most important. Getting the NHL in as many homes as possible is the goal. A lot of people want the NHL to get back on ESPN in some way, but it appears that the newly merged NBC and Comcast (owner of VERSUS) aren’t going to let that happen. Stu Hackel at SI.com has a lot of great info on this topic and why its probably a good thing that VERSUS will retain the NHL.
— Friend of the blog Chris Dilks, editor of the Western College Hockey Blog, has an outstanding list of the top 50 NHL prospects playing in the WCHA and CCHA. There is an abundance of talent throughout college hockey, but Chris pegs down the names you should absolutely know from out west.
— There are a pair of international tournaments involving young hockey prospects kicking off this week in Europe.
The 2011 Under-18 Five Nations Cup is began today in Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic and features the United States, Czech Republic Finland, Russia and Sweden. Outside of the World Under-18 Championship, the Five Nations is perhaps the most important international scouting event for the NHL Draft. It features the very best Under-18 players from the strongest European countries, as well as a good portion of the top Americans. For a translated live blog, here’s your go-to for the Five Nations. Scroll down and find the “Five Tournament” link. The translations are sometimes funny, but you get the idea at least. I will also provide updates when possible on Twitter.
FYI: The U.S. beat Sweden in the tournament opener today, 6-2. Rocco Grimaldi netted a hat trick and added an assist. Reid Boucher had three helpers, while Robbie Russo had two. Other U.S. goals were scored by Adam Reid, Blake Pietila and J.T. Miller… All 2011 Draft eligibles.
Over in neighboring Slovakia, the U.S. National Under-17 Team will take on older opponents at the 2011 Vlad Dzurilla Under-18 Tournament, which begins Feb. 11. The 1994-born Americans will take on 1993’s from Switzerland, Germany and Slovakia. I believe, when the tournament starts, you will be follow along with live stats here.
— It’s always good to get a status update on the goings on in the USHL from its commissioner. Skip Prince talks about big attendance numbers, expansion and other aspirations for the league in this audio interview.
— USAHockeyMagazine.com is a great place to check out interesting features that you often won’t find anywhere else. Harry Thompson, the managing editor for the magazine, has a great piece on Jack Campbell with good quotes from the tender himself and Keith Allain, his WJC head coach and a former goalie.
— Sticking with the USAH Magazine, there’s an informative Q&A session with Prince and College Hockey, Inc.’s Paul Kelly. It covers everything from the battle with the CHL to building bridges with other American junior leagues to the different development paths for the elite American player. Very interesting read.
— The International Ice Hockey Federation has announced a worldwide campaign to get more children involved in ice hockey. While the U.S. and Canada continue to grow the game, the smaller nations need help recruiting players. The IIHF’s assistance will provide good marketing materials and a consistent message. This should be great for the development of the game outside of North America.
— USA Hockey’s Hockey Weekend Across America begins on Friday, Feb. 18. I’ll have a few HWAA-related pieces coming out over the course of that weekend. For those unfamiliar with the HWAA festivities: Friday is Wear Your Jersey Day, Saturday is Bring a Friend to the Rink Day, and Sunday is Celebrate Local Hockey Heroes day. This year has the added bonus of NBC promoting Sunday, Feb. 20 as Hockey Day in America. Should be great exposure for the game.
Head on over to the United States of Hockey Facebook page and share your plans for Hockey Weekend Across America in the discussion section.
Coming up tomorrow, I’ll have more news, notes and links on American hockey prospects.