The opening of World Championships

The men's ice hockey World Championship got underway in Switzerland yesterday. Canada won their first game (Steven Stamkos scored two goals, Martin St. Louis with one assist) against Belarus yesterday, and the United States won their first game as well today against Latvia (with Martins Karsums). The gold medal game will be played on May 10th, and right now it's the round robin part of the tournament.

As American hockey fans can tell you, finding any information or updates on international hockey tournaments can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Trying to find televised games? Forget it - good luck with that.

Even when it's the Olympics, or even if the international tournament takes place here in the United States, it's impossible to locate any information outside of the official tournament webpages at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) website. USA Hockey's site isn't even all that helpful. The American sports media essentially ignores international sports in general, and they also find the NHL or hockey in general to be optional. Add the two together, and it becomes pretty much impossible to follow international hockey here in the States.

Which, I think is part of the problem the US has had in playing in international tournaments. Part of it is cultural. Americans are taught to be self-sufficient and independent. The concept of teamwork isn't typically a focus when raising children. And because of that, there's a "everyone for themselves" kind of mentality here. So when you throw together a bunch of highly skilled Americans in any field, it's hard to develop team chemistry because everyone is out to use the situation to their best individual advantage.

There's also no real pressure or expectation for Team USA to achieve anything since there's very little coverage. Male athletes use that pressure and expectation to motivate themselves, so without it, the motivation sort of disappears. Female athletes, on the other hand, have never had that kind of pressure or sense of expectation, so they've figured out other ways to motivate themselves. Which explains why American women's teams tend to perform much better than American men's teams on the international stage.

It's not that American teams lack talent. In all honesty, they compare well with the likes of Sweden, Finland, Russia, and the Czech Republic. It's just that they have a hard time with chemistry and playing a team game, and have for a long time now.