From February 9th to 26th, Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo will host the Winter Olympics. The planning of the Italian national ice hockey team is already in full swing. The Italians have a bizarre plan up their sleeves. 15 players from North America are to be naturalized. These should be implemented in good time with high-class Italian top teams. The clubs should receive financial support for this. The President of the Italian Ice Hockey Federation, Andrea Gios, told Sportnews.bz: “As the host country, it is our duty to start with a strong team. On the other hand, if our team is not competitive, there is a risk that we will be refused entry.”
He is alluding to China, who were ultimately allowed to take part in the ice hockey tournament at the last Olympic Games. In the group stage, the China national ice hockey team failed to score a single point, finishing in last place with a goal difference of 2:16. Against the USA they conceded a 0:8 bankruptcy. The hosts lost 5-0 to Canada. Only Germany could be challenged in the narrow 2:3 defeat. It was only thanks to the way all teams in the group were promoted that China took part in the Round of 16 qualifiers. (Note: The three group winners and the best of the three group runners-up automatically qualified for the quarter-finals. The remaining eight teams played out the remaining four places in the quarter-finals in a quarter-final qualifier.)
The participation of the South Korean team in Pyeongchang in 2018 was also viewed with a lot of stomachache. Italy wants to prevent this scenario. However, nobody is seriously thinking about excluding the Italian team at the moment.
The Italian Ice Hockey Federation, on the other hand, is pursuing a completely different plan. Gios explained the project to the South Tyrolean portal sportnews.bz. According to this, in cooperation with the Italian Olympic Committee and the Ministry of Sport, the Italian clubs want to offer 15 players from North America. After two years, they would then be eligible for the national team. According to Gios, however, these should be high-quality players who “make the difference” and do not usually come to Italy. However, such players are not exactly cheap. Therefore, the Ministry of Sport should become active in such cases. In this way, the clubs should be given financial support.
For the domestic games, this is of course bad news. However, the head of the association emphasized that there were internal regulations. Accordingly, a maximum of seven players trained in other countries may play in the national team at the same time.