When the Olympic groupings came out for the 2022 Games, many pointed to China as a team that is going to be overwhelmed by the competition. As host country, they are given an automatic bid and placed in a group with the U.S., Canada, and Germany. The first two are obviously favorites for the tournament, while even Germany has players like Leon Draisaitl, Moritz Seider, and Philipp Grubauer, talents that China wouldn’t be able to come close to challenging.
It appears as though the absolute mismatch is being recognized. Tariq Panja of the New York Times reports that there is serious consideration being made to dropping China from the men’s hockey competition altogether. Luc Tardif, president of the IIHF, suggests that Norway could take their place if they do move to take China out of the event.
- Sidney Crosby is not yet ready to return to the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup, but he’s getting closer. The veteran forward won’t be in the lineup when the team plays this evening, but has practiced in full for three days now and was back in his spot on the top line yesterday. Head coach Mike Sullivan told NHL.com’s Wes Crosby that there are no medical clearances keeping his captain from the lineup, just his own comfort level.
- Magnus Paajarvi has found a new team, signing with the Malmo Redhawks for the rest of this season. The 30-year-old spent the last two seasons in the KHL after last playing in North America during the 2018-19 campaign. That year, he scored 11 goals and 19 points for the Ottawa Senators, his highest totals since that exciting rookie campaign in Edmonton. Selected 10th overall in 2009, Paajarvi burst onto the NHL scene with 15 goals and 34 points as a teenager in 2010, only to fizzle out almost immediately and struggle in the years to come. He’ll now return to the organization where he played much of his junior career.
That’s good. Those games wouldn’t be fun for anyone involved. At least Norway would have a few guys that could cause problems every shift for the stacked teams.
While there’s a good side for China to play thus encouraging growth of the sport, likely the blow outs would just end up being discouraging instead of growth. Probably a good idea to have Norway play. IMO.
There would be nothing positive gained by having China play any of those other countries. Losing by double digits on your home ice is not growth, it’s embarrassment. Now, if they could work out some arrangement for China to maybe scrimmage with other countries and maybe do some other programs to encourage development of hockey in China, that would be helpful to them.