Posts Tagged ‘Hartwall Arena’


In a shocking turn of events, the IIHF has turned around and stopped the free live broadcasts of the World Championships. The decision, is according to an IIHF statement, based on some fans in the geoblocked countries bypassing the blocking mechanism to watch the games, rather than use services provided by TV rights holders. The games will still be shown for free via YouTube, but with a 30 minute delay to the service, which negates the point of watching the games.

 

The World Championships have been a total farce from start to finish and this is the last nail in the coffin. The free YouTube streams were a step forwards in exposing the sport and the sponsors of the games to a whole new audience, whilst extending the service to those who wanted to follow their nation play, but lived in a country where there was no TV deal in place. The release by IIHF cites that “today’s step was taken to prevail illegal attempts to access the streaming countries that were geoblocked due to exclusive contracts.” I’m sorry, but bypassing a geoblock is not illegal. It may not be ethical, but it is by no stretch of imagination illegal. It’s a complete disgrace to the IIHF that they have blocked a service that was enjoyed by the fans, regardless of the fact whether some users bypassed the blocking mechanisms in place. Furthermore, I can’t believe that an organisation like the IIHF is so out of touch with the internet that they thought that a geoblock would work. What the IIHF has failed to realise is that as long as something is broadcast on to the web, whether by an “authorised” TV provider, the feed will ultimately end up in the Internet where users like myself can watch it for free. So my question is why block it on that premise? Surely the best way to tackle the issue of illegal streams is to do what the IIHF did in the first place, by offering a free, high quality stream of the games.

 

The official statement read: Bruno Marty, Excecutive Director Wintersports, said: “We deeply regret that we have to take this step, in particular for all the ice hockey followers out there who just want to enjoy the games online on YouTube. However, we currently see no other option to protect the existing media rights agreements with our broadcast partners, as some so called fans decided not to play fair and to illegally surpass existing copyright and geoblocking mechanism.”

 

I have a feeling that the geoblocking has nothing to do with the fact the games were pulled. I have a feeling that broadcasters in countries where the rights have switched hands (I’m looking at Finland here) have kicked up a fuss, because the live streams took away customers from the pay for channels. What makes the IIHF think that the users who have been watching the games via YouTube will suddenly flock to a TV provider and pay an arm and a leg for a viewing pack?

 

What’s surprising even further is that the IIHF has not even brought in an option it has hosted previous years and allow users to buy a country pass or a tournament pass to watch the games. That way users could at least still watch, what the IIHF calls legal streams, and make a profit out of it on the side. Delaying the games by 30 minutes just negates the point of watching a game! What is the point when you have an app for a phone that tells you the score. Wake the hell up IIHF.

 

Like I said these world championships have been a total farce from the start, with the ticket prices and price slashes and free ticket giveaways. All the while Rene Fasel and the organisers have talked about a great brand they have to protect, but this decision sees the IIHF take the brand and wipe its ass with it!

 

It’s completely puzzling how the KHL can show the entire regular season via YouTube, including playoffs, and have no trouble with it? How can the IIHF find this context so hard and difficult?

 

I will conclude this post on this picture as it is now more pertinent than ever (With thanks to Esko Seppanen and Urheilulehti). My parting thoughts would be to curse at the IIHF, but what’s the point?

 

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The Switzerland vs Finland game was probably the first real test for the Finnish team. For the past couple of years the Swiss have shown its potential. Long gone are the days when David Aebischer had to stand on his head and make something like 60 saves per game and still allow several goals.

I missed the first period due to being stuck in traffic and so forth, but judging from the highlights, the Swiss did control the first period, despite the Finns getting on the board on the power play. Judging by the stats, the Swiss had more shots on goal and were more aggressive on the hitting front.

From the second period Finland were struggling with the Swiss teams’ aggressive fore check. The Finnish game relies on accurate passing and what the Finnish media calls a slow breakout (if any Finns know the real term for the style, please let me know as my Finnish to English hockey vocab is rusty). The breakout style allows the Finns to play the puck control game that took the team to the World Championship last year. However, with the Swiss sending sometimes up to three fore checkers to the Finnish defensive zone, it caused the Finnish defence a lot of trouble at times.

The aggressive fore check lead to some turnovers which could’ve lead to goals, if not for Kari Lehtonen in the Finnish net.

On the whole the power play I think still takes a lot of work from the Finns. Sure it converted twice during the game but I have seriously lost count on the opportunities the Finns had in the game and have had throughout the tournament. One thing that I think is missing from the Finnish top line is a strong body presence in front of the goal. Last season there was Tuomo Ruutu, who is out of this years tournament after the birth of his first child. This year, the top line doesn’t have that kind of rough and tumble player in it. The line of Filppula – Koivu – Jokinen is showing some signs of waking up, though at times Jussi Jokinen seems completely lost on the ice.

When I was watching the Finns play, there is a lot of good work and cycling taking place in the corners, but for some reason I can’t help but think that the distance from the corner to the net is too big. If the rink was a little bit smaller then it would be ideal. Right now I don’t think the Finns are generating enough traffic on the net which would lead to scoring chances on the rebounds and cause general nuisance at the opponents net. The only line I see capable of doing it, is the Finnish 3rd line of Jesse Joensuu – Niko Kapanen – Leo Komarov. Komarov showed his strong side today, by showeling home an important 2-1 goal from in traffic.

The good thing to take away from the game is that Finland scored more than one goal. I would say that this was the first real test on a hockey level that the Finns had to play. At times, yes, it seemed like the Finns were struggling in their own end and a part from a few defensive lapses, the defensive crops seems capable… so far…

The Swiss however, could’ve won the game if it stuck to its playing style. In the 3rd period it seemed like the Swiss had changed their fore check from the aggressive one to a more anticipating one, which played to the Finnish teams’ hands due to it giving them the space they needed for their breakout.

The other thing that worked against the Swiss was the refereeing. There were some unbelievable calls against the Swiss, which hindered their offensive opportunities, even if the team did get a shorthanded breakaway in the third period.

Valtteri Filppula with his two goals on the night was Finland’s best player for the night. Mikael Granlund played an energetic game, as did the entire third line, which has been Finland’s best line throughout the tournament so far. The other bright spark of the night was Jarkko Immonen with his two goals, even if his line struggled the most in the defensive zone.

For Finland the best thing to have happen from the Switzerland game would’ve been to play either Canada or USA. However, the next game against France should be an easier game for the team and an opportunity to get ready for the big games against Canada and USA.

The attendance tonight was 12,448, which is getting closer to the maximum capacity of the Arena.


If the IIHF World Championships haven’t received enough negative press due to the high ticket prices and the near empty arenas, further devastation for the games came as the headline sponsor Skoda is considering its investment with the games.

Skoda has been the headline sponsor of the World Championships for twenty years and has become synonymous with the games. Year on year Skoda has displayed its latest models at the games and was most recently one of the parties that brought the World Championships games on to YouTube. Finnish tabloid Ilta-Lehti has quoted Skoda’s Swedish PR chief Mikael Sandberg who said that “the spectator numbers have been below expectations and as the headline sponsor we need to react. What exactly will happen, I don’t know.”

According to Swedish Dagens Media news portal, Skoda is blaming the organisers of the games for the high ticket prices, which have been sited for the low attendance at the games. However, Skoda has apparently been pleased over the decision to lower the ticket prices.

 

(Edit) According to the Finnish representative for Skoda, Helkama Auto, Skoda has an agreement with the IIHF until 2017. Though the Finnish and Swedish offices don’t really have a say in whether or not Skoda will review its sponsorship strategy, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the company decided to review its investment after the current world championships. Where it is likely that Skoda will be on board until 2017, it might look at 2012 as a turning point of the agreement, specially as the 2013 IIHF world championships will be hosted by Sweden and Finland again.

 

The second headline sponsor of the IIHF World Championships, Kyocera, is more careful about its assessment and critique as Bo Gustavson, director of marketing for the Nordics said “Obviously we want there to be as many spectators as possible. Unfortunately, we can’t control the ticket prices for the games.”

Losing the main sponsor would be a heavy blow to the World Championships as I for one have become to associate Skoda with hockey and the World Championships. IF the worst case scenario takes place, it will be a tough job finding a new headline sponsor in the current climate. Though having said that, even DHL forked out a dumb amount of money to have its logo appear on the Manchester United training kit, so I guess if the World Championships brand appeals to a company anything is possible. I have to get a snipe in here and say that with these ticket prices, it would be fitting if the headline sponsor was a luxury goods company.

Since Finland announced new ticket gategories (Fan package and Family Package) to the Finland vs France game and Finland vs Kazakhstan game, the ticket sales has picked up. Infact the organisers reported that the game against France has been sold out and that there were only a few tickets remaining for the Kazakhstan game (reported yesterday).

However, in Globen, the game between Czech Republic and Norway saw only 800 spectators fill the seats. Norway’s Mads Hansen said “It was boring. I’ve played in several World Championship games, but this felt like an exhibition game somewhere in the Italian alps. Sweden is a hockey country and I would’ve expected more than this.”

It will be interesting to see how the arenas fill up with the reduced prices. 800 spectators at an international tournament is a bit of a travesty. I’ve seen more spectators than that in some bush league games.


Finland’s start to the World Championships has been somewhat slow. The team has scored only two goals across 120minutes of play and luckily have not given up a goal as yet. I’m kinda happy that we haven’t allowed a goal as yet, as I said prior to the games starting that Finland won’t have any problem on the goal tending department. I won’t go into an in depth analysis of the playing style or the timing of the passes, because this post would probably be about 5,000 words long and my internet stream cut out so much that I gave up taking indepth notes half way through.  I

 

Speaking of the stream though, it was frustrating to have it cut out with about 10 minutes left in the game. I got it back with two minutes to go and then lost it again, only to have it back when Jukka Jalonen was shaking hands with  his assistant coaches after winning the game. The YouTube comments that run next to the IIHF Video stream were understandably filled with rage when the image cut out.

 

Finland has now had numerous power play opportunities in the two games it has played but has not mustered anything on them. The power play, as far as I can see it, is about nifty puck movement but there is not enough shots coming in on goal and the players are not quick enough to react to second chances on the rebounds. Somehow I feel that the guys are trying too much instead of keeping it simple. Whether it is the pressure of playing in front of a home crowd that’s getting to them or the 24/7 TV access to training and whatnot that is disturbing the flow of the game, but I have a feeling that there is something not quite clicking with the team yet.

 

If we look back to last year, Finland did have a slow start to the gamest then as well, but at least the team was scoring more goals in the first couple of games. I don’t know if the puck control game, or “Our Game” thesis that Jukka Jalonen is coaching with is causing the lack of scoring. Where I think that the style of play suits Finland from the point of view that the team is controlling the puck and flow of the game there is always that little bit that makes me think that they should be more direct and drive hard to the net.

 

On many of the offensive rushes that the Finns have had are like a throwback to Juha-Matti Aaltonen’s playing style. Drive hard from the boards and go behind the net. The Finns are trying to use Gretzky’s office as a place to create offence and there’s one player who can do that on the team and it is young Granlund. He dished out a nifty pass to Pesonen from behind the net. Pesonen fluffed the first shot but made good by getting his backhand shot to go top shelf.

 

Whatever it is, the team has to start scoring and playing a more up-tempo game as now it looks more like the players are going at walking pace on the ice. The opponents will only get harder as we are yet to play USA or the party-hard Canada team. Finland has to improve drastically for those games if it is to have any kind of hope for a repeat of its world championship. You simply do not win championships by scoring one goal per game. That is unless you are a soccer team and you score one goal and then go into a turtle defence mode. But that’s not the way hockey is supposed to be played like.

 

The goalies have both been solid. Vehanen dropped the puck a bit more than Lehtonen, but a shutout is a shutout. It poses an interesting problem for the Finnish coaching staff as to who to play more in the games, with both goalies being in good form and with Karri Ramo waiting on the wings.

 

I would expect that Jalonen realises the fact that he can’t have his team score only one goal per game and expect to go to the finals. He definitely needs to get more out of the power play and from Jussi Jokinen, who has been terrible in the first two games. Jalonen needs to also work on some issues that the Finns have on normal 5on5 game.

 

Good thing is, we have not (yet) seen anyone talk about the old Finnish adage of “Scoring is difficult” or “we had this many scoring chances in the game” it’s not the chances that win you the game, it’s the goals that you actually score.


The ticket price debacle goes on and I fear that it is going to be the thing that is most remembered from the 2012 World Championships. Yesterday, the Finnish organisers said that they are not going to be lowering the ticket prices to the games following Sweden’s announcement of 70% slash in prices.

 

The organisers are saying that there have been plenty of tickets sold and even went as far as to claim that the Finland vs Belarus game was sold out. However, the prices continue to be a thorn in the fans’ side. Some tried to stage a protest against the prices in the France vs Kazakhstan game. However, from the opening game between France and USA the organisers had barred the display of banners that were larger than 1mx1m, though if the rule applies to all banners displayed, shouldn’t the organisers ban the display of national flags in the stands as those are bigger than 1mX1m. There was one banner displayed in the Hartwall Arena saying “Kale Hinnat Alas, Kale on varas” loosely translated to Kale, lower the prices, Kale you’re a thief. The banner was visible for five seconds before a group of security officers descended on the group displaying the banner and “kindly” asked for the group to vacate the premises.

 

Though the group was later allowed back into the stands sans banner, it still says a lot about the way that the organisers are treating the fans. As you can see from the picture below, the group of guys is clearly happy about the prices and of the treatment they have received in the  games (Picture courtesy of Esko Seppanen: https://twitter.com/#!/EskoSeppanen) . Image

 

The organisers clearly have a stand of “No opinion will be listened to unless it is the approved one by the organisers”. I know that may not necessarily be the case, but that’s what it looks like to me as a spectator and lover of hockey.

 

In my humble opinion, the games have turned into a joke. Not because of the hockey but because of the fact that the games are played to half empty arenas and the organisers have adopted a “we will not negotiate with terrorists” policy. I guess if the organisers lower the prices it is them admitting that they got it horribly, HORRIBLY wrong.

 

If Rene Fasel, the guy at the top of the IIHF admits that the ticket prices and the debacle around them is not good advertisement to hockey or to the tournament, there should be alarm bells ringing at the organisers’ office. Oh I forgot, there has been alarm bells ringing and they have admitted that they’ll take these games on board and rectify things for next time. Why next time? Why not now? Is it that bad to slash the prices to games so that there would actually be FANS in the stands cheering the games? 

It is ironic that the France vs Kazakhstan game has attracted more or less the same audience as the USA vs Canada game from yesterday and that it is LOUDER in the arena than it was during Finland vs Belarus or USA vs Canada.

 

In either case, I think Finland and the Finnish Ice Hockey Association will have to wash its face for many months after the games. I’d like to see what some of the stars who are playing in the games think about playing to an empty arena. I know Pavel Datsyuk didn’t seem too happy about the attendance figures in Stockholm and I guess playing to a dead crowd is difficult for the NHL guys who are used to playing to a sold out crowd for the entire season.

 

For the sake of hockey, I hope that the attendance will get better and that there is going to be cheering at the games. However, something makes me think that this is not going to be the case.

 


After the huge backlash on the ticket prices at both Helsinki and Stockholm games, and after the embarrasement of attendance numbers in both Helsinki andStockholm, the Swedes have reacted to the critique and have slashed the ticket prices for the rest of the games by 70%.

For the remainder of the games the ticket prices at the Sockholm games are in the region of €44 (previous prices were at €145). Those fans who had purchased their tickets to the rafters at Globen for th Sweden vs Czech Republic game, will have the opportunity to move closer to the ice level.

Organiser, Christer Eglund said “We could have made more of a profit if we would’ve kept the prices as they were, as the World Championships boom would grow as the games progress. However, we have one of the greatest brands to protect and therefore we are eager to effer all supporters the opportunity to enjoy the games.”

The reaction comes after the first four games at Globen were watched only by an audience of 8,000. Seriously, 8,000 fans across four games. You do the math and the averages, but in either case it is bad!

Even Swedish superstar Henrik Zetterberg criticised the ticket prices. “It is an embarrasement and sad that only a small number of spectators turn up. The fault is not with the audience. With these prices families will not turn up at the arena to follow hockey.”

There has been no news as yet whether Finland will follow suit.


EDIT: Please see post here about recent developments: http://pushforpros.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/iihf-world-championships-iihf-bins-live-youtube-streams/

The news has literally just broken on Twitter with the IIHF announcing that all of the games from the 2012 Ice Hockey World Championships will be streamed live via YouTube.

In a move that resembles the KHL’s startegy of showing games free of charge on YouTube, is bound to attract more fans to look at the games and watch the videos. However, it is still expected that the IIHF will offer paid for packages for the games where you can buy rights to watch the games of your chosen team.

However, the offer is not available to all as some countries have been geo-blocked. The list of Geo-Blocked countries includes: Belarus, Denmark, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine and the USA. EDIT: It has now emerged (at 14:46 GMT) that the games will also be geo-blocked in Finland.

(Edit: I have deleted the paragraph about the Finnish TV rights for the games) I can only suspect that the YouTube streaming would’ve hurt the TV and media partners of the games, though I doubt that the decision to stream the games came from the Helsinki/Stockholm organising committee but from the IIHF itself. However, it is a welcome move to offer the games via YouTube.

I for one (based on my geographic location) applaud the IIHF’s decision to move. It is a bold new strategy and will expose the sport to a wider fan base, which will be great for the sport.

The YouTube channel can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/icehockey.

The schedule for the games is here: http://www.iihf.com/competition/272/home-oc/tournament-info/game-schedule.html Please note that the game times are in Swedish and Finnish times respectively.

Your move NHL!