One of my favorite tournaments of the holiday season is the Spengler Cup. I’ve stumped for this tournament many times, not just because Vaillant Arena is a stunning site for the eyes, but also due to it being a land of, “Oh, that’s where that guy went.” The 2017 event has even more appeal to it, as there will be another national team aside from Canada to be featured right before the Olympics this year.
First, a bit of a history. The tournament itself is an invitation-only tournament hosted by HC Davos and created by Dr. Carl Spengler to help promote German-speaking European hockey clubs back in 1923. It was a way for those who felt ostracized after World War I to have place to play and have a communal feeling. Two teams who are constant are obviously HC Davos, but also Team Canada– which is a group of Canadian players who play over in Europe and are released by their minor league or college clubs to play in this event. Canada has been given an invite since 1984; while the other teams are filled out by other national teams and European club teams.
With this installment of the Spengler Cup, Canada’s team will have a last rehearsal for players want to represent the nation in the 2018 Games in South Korea. While there are plenty of former NHL players who play in Europe on the roster, it also has three players from the AHL (Jeff Schultz, Cody Goloubef, and Christian Thomas), as well as four players from the NCAA (Brandon Hickey, Jake Evans, Jeremy Davies, and Dylan Sikura). With five players back from last years championship team (Mason Raymond, Nick Spaling, Maxim Noreau, Andrew Ebbett, and David MacIntrye); the Canadians should continue to be a favorite in this event.
However, Canada isn’t the only team who’s scouting their Olympic roster as Switzerland will be fielding a team ahead of the Olympics. Some names that NHL fans may know include Damian Brunner, Tobias Stephan, and Raphael Diaz; but start to learn about goalie Leonardo Genoni. Genoni has had a history with the Spengler Cup with HC Davos, but it’s been one of hot and cold spells in this week long tournament. With the Swiss paired against Canada, South Korea, and the Czech Republic; taking on Canada and the other participants in the Spengler could give them a gauge on what they would need in order to have success in Olympics. A notable omission is goalie Jonas Hiller, who played in the Karjala Cup in November, but is not on this roster.
HC Davos, Canada, and Switzerland will be joined by Dinamo Riga of Latvia and the KHL, Mountfield HK of Czech Republic, and finally HPK Hameenlinna of Finland. There are times where teams will loan out players for this event– which HC Davos is taking advantage of with getting Jeremy Morin from SC Bern, Tomi Sallinin from Kloten, and Samuel Lofquist from EHC Biel. For Dinamo Riga, the likes of Danny Kristo, Karl Stollery, and Nikolai Zherdev are on their KHL squad and will most likely be at this tournament. Former King and Panther Jaroslav Bednar captains the Mountfield team, while Hameenlinna boost a young squad of players including former Bruins prospect Mikko Lehtonen.
It’s a quick and fun tournament that doesn’t get enough play in the US, even if there’s a US team in it like was the case with the Rochester Americans a few years back. If you’re in Canada, you can catch the action on the TSN family of networks; but in the US– good luck finding a totally legal stream of the event.