International Ice Hockey Federation

Asterix: The Hockey Way

Asterix: The Hockey Way

Collective bargaining leads to fun times!

Published 30.04.2017 20:50 GMT+2 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Asterix: The Hockey Way
In 2005, an NHL labor dispute resulted in great World Championship rosters for the fans to enjoy – much like Asterix and Obelix enjoy themselves by liberating workers from a Roman construction project next to their village. Photos: Editions Albert René, Jukka Rautio / Europhoto
Generally, a work stoppage is no fun for anyone concerned. But fans of Asterix and the 2005 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Austria might disagree!

Leading up to the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, we’re dedicating one article to each day of the tournament, making a tongue-in-cheek comparison between an Asterix comic book and famous aspects of international hockey history.

In the 1971 classic The Mansions of the Gods, Asterix and Obelix encourage an international group of Roman slaves to stop chopping down the forest and building a modern housing estate next to their little Gaulish village. They even give the slaves some magic potion so they can fend off their Roman overlords. When the architect comes to complain, a spokesman for the slaves says: “We’ve decided it’s time for a little collective bargaining.”

Sound familiar? Just remember the fallout from the 2005 NHL lockout. With so many players “emancipated” from their NHL obligations that year, nations iced Olympic-calibre rosters at the Worlds in Vienna and Innsbruck.

Many teams thought they were building something special! For instance, in the group stage, the Swedes, led by Daniel Sedin and Daniel Alfredsson, scored 15 goals as quickly as Getafix makes oak trees sprout with his magic acorns! And Slovakia, starring Zigmund Palffy and Marian Hossa, went undefeated in its first three games. Russia did the same with Alexander Ovechkin and Alexei Kovalyov among its leaders.

But it was mighty Canada and the canny Czechs who proved to be as scary as Obelix charging at Roman settlers and growling at them ferociously! The Canadians, defending Olympic champions from 2002, made it to their third straight final after winning gold in 2003 and 2004. The Czechs returned to the gold medal game for the first time since their 2001 three-peat. They did so with dramatic extra-time victories over the U.S. in the quarter-final on Martin Rucinsky’s shootout winner and over Sweden in the semi-final on Radek Dvorak’s overtime goal!

Until the winner-take-all battle at the Wiener Stadthalle on 15 May, Canada’s lockout-boosted offence had been unstoppable. Tournament MVP Joe Thornton led the Worlds with six goals and 16 points, while fellow all-star Rick Nash was right behind with nine goals and 15 points.

However, with their classic left-wing lock system, the Czechs won 3-0, destroying Canada’s hopes the same way Asterix and his friends knock down the Mansions of the Gods. Martin Rucinsky led the way with a goal and an assist, while Jaromir Jagr added two helpers, and Tomas Vokoun, named Best Goalie, posted a 29-save shutout. Canadian fans howled with sadness like Obelix’s dog Dogmatix when he sees a fallen tree.

Still, it was party time in Prague, and of course, Asterix and Obelix complete their adventure with a big banquet. It’s nice to know that even when corporate negotiations interfere with the wishes of the international community, sometimes you can still have a happy ending!

This is a 17-part series prior to the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, of which Asterix and Obelix are the official mascots. Click on News to find the stories.


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