Ice Hockey World Championships


Ice Hockey World Championships

The Ice Hockey World Championship is an annual event organized by the International Ice Hockey Federation.

They were preceded by the European Championship which was held from 1910 to 1932, and decided at the 1920 Summer Olympics for the first time. Subsequently ice hockey featured at the Winter Olympics, where the World Championship was decided when the two events occurred concurrently. The last time the World Championship was decided during the Olympic Games was at the 1968 Winter Olympics.

The 73rd championship will be held between April 24 and May 10, 2009 Zurich and Bern, Switzerland.

History

Early years and World War II

In the early days of the Championship, the teams from Canada dominated. Between 1930 and 1939, Canadian teams won the tournament eight times. This occurred despite the fact that Canada sent a different club team each year, as in those days Senior Amateur teams typically represented Canada.

World War II caused the Championship to be cancelled from 1940-46.

Post World War II through to 1970

Canadian teams continued to dominate the tournament in the early post-war era, but from 1954 onwards, the Championship became increasingly competitive, as the USSR joined them this year, and the teams from Czechoslovakia and Sweden improved their skill level.

While the top European players were officially able to compete in the World Championship while retaining their amateur status, players in the National Hockey League and other North American minor professional leagues were prohibited for many years from entering in the tournament. As the great majority of these players were Canadian nationals, this rule was seen by many as discriminatory against Canadian players.

1970 through the end of the Cold War

During this period the Soviet ice hockey team dominated, winning almost all the World Championships. In 1970, the IIHF allowed Canada to send nine professionals from the ranks of the NHL and its affiliated minor leagues (though as the tournaments were held during the Stanley Cup playoffs, only a handful of them could actually compete). However, these rules were later rescinded after officials produced many reciprocal claims against them. It upset the Canadians, who felt that they should be allowed to send their best players as well. Canada boycotted the World Championship for seven years as a result, during which the IIHF moved the championships out of the Olympics in 1972 and 1976 in an attempt to resolve the issue.

In 1976, a new president of the IIHF finally allowed professionals on all teams, and Canada returned to competition the following year. By this time, the quality of play of European hockey had improved so much that even Canadian rosters filled with NHL players whose teams had missed the playoffs could not dominate. Not until 1994, 33 years after its previous championship, would Canada win the tournament again.

Post-Cold War

By the early 1990s the breakup of the Soviet Union, which dominated the Championship for much of the three decades after Canada's dominance ended, and of Czechoslovakia, which won in most of the years in which the Soviets did not, brought about unprecedented parity to the international game for two reasons:
# Players in the former USSR and Czechoslovakia had the freedom to play in the NHL. Thus many European countries' best players were also competing in the NHL, and so unable to send their best to the Championship
# The breakup of the USSR and Czechoslovakia meant that the remaining core states, respectively Russia and the Czech Republic, had fewer talented players to draw from, even among those not playing in the NHL during the Championship.

The breakup of USSR and Czechoslovakia created a challenge for the IIHF because new national teams like Belarus, Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine wanted to participate in the Championship at the highest level of play, pool A. The IIHF ruled that Czech Republic and Russia would be permitted immediate entry to pool A, but the other new national teams would have to start at pool C. It became clear that the new teams were or would soon be, better than many of the existing, but less elite, pool A teams. The Championship ran the risk of established countries from Western Europe, such as Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, and Switzerland, being displaced from pool A by the new teams from Eastern Europe as they advanced from pool C. As the IIHF depended on advertising revenue derived from the established Western European countries, it decided to expand pool A to accommodate the existing pool A teams plus the new rising teams.

In recent championships, the two nations of the former Czechoslovakia have fared extremely well in international play, accounting for four straight championships between 1999-2002 – the first three by the Czech Republic and the latter by Slovakia. (The Czech side also won the 1998 Winter Olympic gold medal in Nagano, Japan). Canada has recently returned to prominence with an international trophy binge, capturing the 2003, 2004, and 2007 World Championships as well as the 2002 Winter Olympic gold medal at Salt Lake City and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.

Format

The modern format for the World Championship features a minimum of 40 teams: 16 teams in the main group, 12 teams in Division I and 12 teams in Division II. If there are more than 40 teams, the rest compete in Division III.

The main group features 16 teams. In the Preliminary round the 16 teams are split into 4 groups (Groups A through D) and the teams play each other in a round robin format, and the top 3 teams in each division advance into the Qualifying round. The Qualifying round is another round of group play with 2 groups of 6; the top three teams from group A and group D are placed together and the top three teams from group B and group C are placed together. In the Qualifying round teams maintain their results from the Preliminary round against other teams who have also advanced, and only play against teams which they have not previously played against. The top four teams in each Qualifying round group advance into the knockout playoff stage. In the quarterfinals the first place team from one group plays the fourth place team from the other group, and the second place team from one group plays the third place team from the other group. The winners advance to the semi-finals. The winners of the semi-finals advance to the Gold medal game, and the losers advance to the Bronze medal game.

The bottom teams in the Preliminary round play in another group as well; this group will determine relegation. After a round-robin format, the bottom two teams are usually relegated to Division I. Japan was typically never relegated, as the IIHF held a "Far East Qualifier" with an automatic berth from 1998 to 2005 to develop the popularity of the sport in the Far East. Japan had always won this tournament, but due to the lack of popular support in the Far East, little improvement in the quality of play, and poor prospects for any related marketing, the IIHF has discontinued the practice in the 2005 Championships, relegating Japan to compete in Division I.

Below the World Championship group are two 6-team Division I round robin groups, the winner of which is promoted to the World Championship group, while each last place team is demoted to Division II. Division II works similarly to Division I, with two 6-team groups where each last place team is relegated to a Division III group. There is no relegation from Division III.

The IIHF consists of 5 tournaments. Championship tournament is the main one and everything below that is trying to get to the championship round. At the end of the tournaments the top 2 teams in each division (Except the Championship division) get promoted to the next highest division. The Bottom 2 Teams in each Division (Except Division III) get relegated to the next lowest division. The Bottom 1 in Division III gets booted out and has to Qualify for Division III.

Championship

The 73rd championship will be held between April 24 and May 10, 2009 Zürich and Berne,Switzerland

The Championship comprises the top sixteen hockey nations in the world. For the 2009 tournament, the teams are aligned into groups as follows:

Group A

*ih|CAN
*ih|SVK
*ih|BLR
*ih|HUN--Promoted to the Championship for the 2009 Tournament

Group B

*ih|RUS
*ih|SUI
*ih|GER
*ih|FRA

Group C

*ih|SWE
*ih|USA
*ih|LAT
*ih|AUT--Promoted to the Championship for the 2009 Tournament

Group D

*ih|FIN
*ih|CZE
*ih|NOR
*ih|DEN

Division I

Twelve teams comprise Division I. They are broken into two groups, with the winner of each group gaining promotion to the World Championship pool for the following year.

Group A

Held in Vilnius, Lithuania, April 11-17, 2009

*ih|SLO--Relegated from Championship Division for the 2009 Tourney
*ih|KAZ
*ih|JPN
*ih|LTU
*ih|CRO
*ih|AUS--Promoted to Division I for the 2009 Tournament

Group B

Held in Torun, Poland, April 11-17, 2009

*ih|ITA--Relegated from Championship Division for the 2009 Tourney
*ih|UKR
*ih|POL
*ih|GBR
*ih|NED
*ih|ROM--Promoted to Division I for the 2009 Tourney

Division II

Twelve teams comprise Division II. They are also broken into two groups competing to advance into Division I.

Group A

Held in Novi Sad, Serbia, April 9-15, 2009

*ih|EST--Relegated to Division II for the 2009 Tournament
*ih|PRC
*ih|SRB
*ih|ISR
*ih|ISL
*ih|PRK--Promoted to Division II for the 2009 Tourney

Group B

Held in be Sofia, Bulgaria, April 6-12, 2009

*ih|KOR--Relegated to Division II for the 2009 Tournament
*ih|BEL
*ih|Spain
*ih|MEX
*ih|BUL
*ih|RSA--Promoted to Division II for the 2009 Tourney

Division III

Division III is made up of six teams. The top two in each year’s tournament are promoted to Division II.

Held in Dunedin, New Zealand, April 10-16, 2009

*ih|NZL--Relegated to Division III for the 2009 Tourney
*ih|IRL--Relegated to Division III for the 2009 Tourney
*ih|LUX
*ih|TUR
*ih|GRE
*ih|MGL
*ih|ARM--Armenia was suspended from IIHF competitions for one year and put on a three-year probation after entering numerous ineligible players at this year’s U20 and men’s World Championship events. Armenia may not play in any of the 2008-09 season IIHF events.
*ih|BIH--According to the IIHF website, Bosnia and Herzegovina are not participating in the 2009 Division III tournament.

IIHF World Championship

Other tournaments

The IIHF also organizes the IIHF World Women Championships and three Ice Hockey World Junior Championships.

ee also

* Triple Gold Club
* Olympic Ice Hockey Tournaments
* World Cup of Hockey
* Canada Cup
* Summit Series
* IIHF World Ranking
* Spengler Cup
* IIHF World Championship Division I
* IIHF World Championship Division II
* IIHF World Championship Division III
* IIHF World U18 Championships
* IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships (U20)

* List of international ice hockey competitions featuring NHL players

External links/Sources

* [http://live82.ihwc.net/ World Championships web site] - current Men's World Championships
* [http://www.chidlovski.com/personal/1954/ Hockey CCCP International] - Complete reference source with all games, players, coaches, tournaments, 1954-1991
* [http://www.iihf.com/archive/archive.htm Result archive] - Full results for men's, women's and junior championships since 1999 and medalists for all tournaments.
* [http://www.hockeyarchives.info/ Hockeyarchives.info]
* [http://www.geocities.com/Colosseum/Dugout/4128/49INTERNATIONAL.html Hockey Almanac]
* Müller, Stephan : International Ice Hockey Encyclopedia 1904-2005 / BoD GmbH Norderstedt, 2005 ISBN 3-8334-4189-5
* [http://www.hockeycanada.ca/index.cfm/ci_id/4787/la_id/1.htm Hockey Canada] - Explains why the World Championships were expanded to allow Slovakia and former Soviet teams to participate
* [http://www.geocities.com/canadavsrussia Canada Versus the Soviet Union] The heyday of the battle for world hockey supremacy (1972-1987)


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