Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 11/14/11 at 05:11 PM ET
from Andrew Podnieks of Slap Shot at the NY Times,
But here is the curious paradox to these great players’ (2011 HHOF class) careers. Each is supremely proud of representing his country in international play, but if they hadn’t played a single moment internationally, would they still be being honored tonight? Almost certainly the answer is yes. While each had success on the international stage, it wasn’t necessarily the crux or defining moment of his career.
Yet for a modern hockey player to be considered worthy of the Hockey Hall of Fame, shouldn’t his international resume be superb and work alongside his N.H.L. portfolio? After all, playing for one’s country is not just an honor — it’s a way of filtering the greatest of the great players from the merely great players. There is an important symbolism attached to playing internationally. It means at that time, for that event, a player is considered among the very best at his position and from his country. A player can win a Stanley Cup as a fourth-line utility man. The Olympics call for stars.
In the old days, amateur (i.e., international players) and pro (i.e., N.H.L.) players were two different beasts. But today, they are one and the same. Wayne Gretzky was the best N.H.L. player, but he also played every international event because he was (A) allowed to and (B) clearly among that group we might call the best of the best.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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