February 15, 2010
Chemistry: The Key To Gold Medal Championship
Canadians are spoiled. Every year we continually churn out great players. When our Olympic or World Cup teams are assembled every four years, there is often huge turn over, as even in that short time period new players emerge as contenders for the 20 or so roster spots.
No other country is like that. Other countries seem to have a core group of players that carry the nation's hopes for a generation or so.
In some ways I actually envy the Americans, the Russians, the Czechs, the Slovaks, the Swedes and the Finns for this. I view it as a huge advantage. These players continually compete for their flag. Each time they do they naturally develop increasing chemistry and togetherness, going through common experiences and bonding battles.
Canada has struggled with team chemistry at times. Up until say the mid-1990s, it did not matter at the top level of hockey, the Canada Cups, World Cups and now Olympics. We always could count on that unique Canadian intangible - heart - to bring us together and over come the world's best. With the exception of the Soviets, we were more talented than everyone, and no familiarity advantage could trump us.
Nowadays there is just no time to develop familiarity that other nations may have. The summer orientation camp/golf tournament aside, these players almost change overnight from months of NHL battles against each other to teammates for a couple of weeks.
Amongst the Olympic national teams there is so little choose from. The talent level is basically equal. They all share the same passion for winning. There are seven super powers of hockey now, not one or two. Any of those seven could win it all, with probably five entering the tournament as serious contenders.
The only real major advantage is some teams are tighter than others. In short tournaments like the Olympics, it is the teams that gel the quickest that will medal. Chemistry is absolutely essential.
So how does Team Canada foster instant team chemistry? That's the question I tried answering in my post Chemistry 101: Building A Gold Medal Hockey Team.