Asterix: The Hockey Way
Asterix: The Hockey Way
Sometimes mercenaries make magic together
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 next month’s Worlds Norway will take on Switzerland in Paris. That matchup evokes memories of the NHL/NHLPA tournament in Toronto back in September. Under Team Europe coach Ralph Krueger, stars from Norway and Switzerland joined forces with their peers from Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Slovakia and Slovenia. This was a novelty in international hockey. Critics said: “These Europeans are crazy!”
More charitable observers felt these second-tier nations were doing it for the love of the game. Love is also the driving force in Asterix the Legionary. Asterix and Obelix join the Roman army’s equivalent of the Foreign Legion with Belgian, British, Egyptian, Greek and Gothic comrades. Their goal is to find and rescue a young Gaulish woman’s fiance. He’s left this sad message: “The Romans made me join the legion. We’re off to Africa. Farewell forever.”
Even with the leadership of two-time NHL playoff scoring leader Anze Kopitar (Los Angeles Kings) and three-time Stanley Cup champion Marian Hossa (Chicago Blackhawks), Team Europe wasn’t expected to gel fast enough to beat top contenders like the U.S. or Sweden. Would it be “Farewell forever” for this best-of-the-rest roster? No, by Miroslav Satan! (Note: this is the only time we will substitute the Team Europe GM for the ancient Celtic god Toutatis.)
Unlike Asterix and his mates, the Europeans apparently didn’t mind putting on new uniforms or eating the food they were handed. Nor did they react to Krueger’s training methods as Obelix does to carrying sacks full of rocks: “The sooner we’re through with these silly exercises the better!”
Jaroslav Halak earned a 35-save shutout in a 3-0 opening upset of the Americans. Leon Draisaitl scored the overtime winner in a 3-2 victory over the Czechs. In the semi-finals, Team Europe kept its Cinderella run alive with Tomas Tatar’s 3-2 sudden-death stunner versus Sweden. And despite losing two straight to Canada in the finals, the Europeans played the stacked hosts tighter than any other team (3-1, 2-1). They succumbed only on Brad Marchand’s last-minute tally in Game Two!
Much like when the young woman gratefully kisses Asterix and Obelix and leaves them red-faced in the end, Team Europe fans could glow with pride over their squad’s accomplishment!
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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