Saturday, 19 November 2016

North American vs Swiss/European Ice Hockey

It’s November, meaning we are in the middle of the ice hockey season!!!

If you know me, you know how much I love following this sport. In Switzerland the season always starts in September, but in the States it’s one more month: October!!! Such a long summer.

This is not the only difference between Swiss and American hockey, I even think between European and American hockey, but I will focus on Switzerland. Let’s see what other differences there are.

I’ve been following my local time for a really long time now, but I only get really exciting when I think about the NHL.

First of all, you can win the Stanley Cup in the NHL and that’s HUGE!!! In Switzerland or other European countries you just win the league and the championship in your country. They way to get there is the same though. Teams play each other and the best ones get into the PlayOffs, where the winner will be delivered. Since America and Canada are so big, there are a lot of teams, meaning that there are way more games during the regular season. The teams are split into division: Eastern Conference (Atlantic Division, Metropolitan Division) and Western Conference (Central Division, Pacific Division). There are even winners in each conference, but winning the Stanley Cup is something else.

After the championship is over in Europe we focus on the World Champion Ship and is very important. Not so much for the NHL players, because most of them are in the middle of the playoffs for the Stanley Cups, they only join their country when they are out for that running.

Another big difference is the actual hockey rink, the size is not the same. North American standard rinks are 200 x 85 feet, while European ice sheets are “Olympic-sized” at 200 x 100 feet. That might seem like something small, but the players always have to get used to the other style. You can just say that the style and the tactics are a lot different because of that.

I think certain rules are different as well, or at least how the referees deal with them, especially when it comes to fighting. There are less fights in Europe, because they are stopped immediately.

A big difference are also the arenas. In America they are much bigger and have great infrastructure. We have some modern ones now, but they are only slowly starting (first one, was my local team) and the idea behind our new arenas are the ones in the States.

The fans are also very different. There’s a lot of competition and rivalry in Switzerland between the fan groups, in America they just sit with each other and have fun. This also makes the atmosphere different.

In North America every game starts with the anthem, not here though. The pre-game show elements are pretty similar though.

Ok, I will stop here now. I enjoy both styles of hockey, but yes I get way more excited about the NHL, GO STARS!!!!

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