Monday April 26, 2021’s Smile of the Day: Olympic Ice Hockey
On this Day:
In 1920, Ice hockey made its Olympic debut at the Antwerp Games with center Frank Fredrickson scoring 7 goals in Canada’s 12-1 drubbing of Sweden in the gold medal match.
Ice hockey tournaments have been staged at the Olympic Games since 1920. The men’s tournament was introduced at the 1920 Summer Olympics and was transferred permanently to the Winter Olympic Games program in 1924, in France. The women’s tournament was first held at the 1998 Winter Olympics.
The Olympic Games were originally intended for amateur athletes. However, the advent of the state-sponsored “full-time amateur athlete” of the Eastern Bloc countries further eroded the ideology of the pure amateur, as it put the self-financed amateurs of the Western countries at a disadvantage. The Soviet Union entered teams of athletes who were all nominally students, soldiers, or working in a profession, but many of whom were in reality paid by the state to train on a full-time basis. In 1986, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted to allow professional athletes to compete in the Olympic Games starting in 1988. The National Hockey League (NHL) was initially reluctant to allow its players to compete because the Olympics are held in the middle of the NHL season, and the league would have to halt play if many of its players participated. Eventually, NHL players were admitted starting in 1998. However, the NHL again refused to release its players starting in 2018, citing financial reasons.
From 1924 to 1988, the tournament started with a round-robin series of games and ended with the medal round. Medals were awarded based on points accumulated during that round. In 1992, the playoffs were introduced for the first time since 1920. In 1998, the format of the tournament was adjusted to accommodate the NHL schedule; a preliminary round was played without NHL players or the top six teams—Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden and the United States—followed by a final round which included them. The tournament format was changed again in 2006; every team played five preliminary games with the full use of NHL players.
The games of the tournament follow the rules of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), which differ slightly from the rules used in the NHL.
In the men’s tournament, Canada was the most successful team of the first three decades, winning six of seven gold medals. Czechoslovakia, Sweden and the United States were also competitive during this period and won multiple medals. Between 1920 and 1968, the Olympic hockey tournament was also counted as the Ice Hockey World Championship for that year. The Soviet Union first participated in 1956 and overtook Canada as the dominant international team, winning seven of the nine tournaments in which they participated. The United States won gold medals in 1960 and in 1980, which included their “Miracle on Ice” upset of the Soviet Union. Canada went 50 years without a gold medal, before winning one in 2002, and following it with back-to-back wins in 2010 and 2014. Other nations to win gold include Great Britain in 1936, the Unified Team in 1992, Sweden in 1994 and 2006 and the Czech Republic in 1998. Other medal-winning nations include Switzerland, Germany, Finland and Russia.
In July 1992, the IOC voted to approve women’s hockey as an Olympic event; it was first held at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. The Nagano Organizing Committee was hesitant to include the event because of the additional costs of staging the tournament, but an agreement was reached that limited the field to six teams, and ensured that no additional facilities would be built. The Canadian teams have dominated the event. The United States won the first tournament in 1998 and the most recent in 2018. Canada has won all of the other tournaments (2002–2014) (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
Since hockey has been canceled due to Covid, nobody has seen the Zamboni driver.
But I’m sure he’ll resurface eventually.
Second, a Song:
Nicole Rachel “Nikki” Yanofsky (born February 8, 1994) is a jazz-pop singer from Montreal, Quebec. She sang the CTV Olympic broadcast theme song, “I Believe”, which was also the theme song of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. She also performed at the opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympics and at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games. She has released three studio albums to date, including Nikki in 2010, Little Secret in 2014, and Turn Down the Sound in 2020.
“I Believe” is a song sung by Canadian jazz-pop singer Nikki Yanofsky. Written by Stephan Moccio and Alan Frew for Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium, it was used as the official promotional song for both the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, and as the theme song for the former. Themes from this song appeared in the main title sequence music, and were used to create cues for use during actual Olympic coverage broadcasts. A French version of the song, “J’imagine” was recorded and sung by Annie Villeneuve.
Both the English and French versions were recorded in Montreal, Quebec, along with the help of The Montreal Symphony Orchestra and children from the area, who supplied the backing vocals in both languages.
It was noted in the media that the lyric “I believe in the power of you and I” is grammatically incorrect.
This song is also available on Nikki’s new album, Nikki, which recently received a gold certification from the Canadian Recording Industry Association.
It reached number one on the Canadian Hot 100 issue dated February 27, 2010 (per Wikipedia).
Here is Nikki performing “I Believe” set to past Olympic moments and shots of the Olympic venues here in Vancouver for the 2010 Games.
Incidentally, both the Canadian Men and the Women’s ice hockey teams took home the Gold medal in 2010 in Vancouver. Unfortunately, the Canadian Ice Sledge Hockey team was eliminated at the Semi-final match, preventing a complete sweep of the games.
Thought for the Day:
“Ninety percent of hockey is mental and the other half is physical.” – Wayne Gretzky
Further to the Robinson Crusoe Smile:
Simon Chester of Toronto, Ontario, Canada writes to point out that Lower Largo, in Fife, Scotland has a statue dedicated to Alexander Selkirk:
“Lower Largo is famous as the 1676 birthplace of Alexander Selkirk, who provided inspiration for Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. The statue shows Selkirk awaiting rescue in a sculpture by Thomas Stuart Burnett (1885). Alexander Selkirk (1676 – 13 December 1721) was a Scottish privateer and Royal Navy officer who spent more than four years as a castaway (1704–1709) after being marooned by his captain on an uninhabited island in the South Pacific Ocean.” (per https://www.welcometofife.com/view-business/alexander-selkirk-statue)
Sandy Weams of Campbell River, BC, Canada writes:
From slave ship to Black face Al”
Editor: We can learn from the mistakes of the past and indeed, we should. Otherwise we are fated to make them again…
Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky
Leave a Reply