These guys did not carry AK47 rifles but hockey sticks. There were no Ridley Scott special effects but at the end of the day the Blackhawks went down. The Chicago Blackhawks, the semi-finalists of the last NHL season lost 2-1 to the European champions, Switzerland’s ZSC Zurich Lions on Tuesday night (and the extensive highlights happen here on a player).
It could sound unimpressive considering a couple of Euroleague teams have defeated NBA teams regularly those last few years, but it’s not. It was the first time since 1991 that a European team beat an NHL team. It was the second edition of the Victoria Cup (the Rangers won last year), a competition between the winner of the European Champions League and an NHL team (the Stanley Cup winners did not participate meaning that technically, those Swiss fants should forget about “World Champions” banners).
Zurich forward Ryan Gardner told NHL.com: “Us winning it tonight gives a little credit to our league,”. “We did our country proud. We did Europe proud. It’s a special night for us…” Wait, did he just say “We did Europe proud”? A genuine feeling of European identity coming from a Swiss-Canadian living in a country which has always refused to join the European Union. Where is the exclamation point key? It says a lot about the notion of European identity that most often here comes in reaction to the American superpower. Like “I am European because I am from the Western world but I am not American.” Something that was very true during the W Bush administration when being European meant rejecting a certain number of values and principles such as a middle finger to Human Rights and Internal Law.
Switzerland is celebrating but there should be no tomorrow. Why? Because a Swiss team will not play the Victoria Cup next year. How do I know ? Because the president of the International Ice Hockey Federation said so. After one year of existence, the European Champions Hockey League ceased to exist because its main sponsor, Russian giant Gazprom, backed down. Not to say it’s bad omen for Chelski or any other teams who live on Russian money respiration assistance. Next year a Euro team from a bigger market (Russia, Czech Republic, Sweden or Finland) will be designated to represent Europe.
We might teach a hockey lesson to Americans once every 18 years but seriously we could be on a marketing and business hard course for the rest of our lives.