A year full of hope for French hockey | You have seen?


At the federation, we are very happy with its successes. We try to relay his prowess as much as possible, he said of Da Costa, who is the fourth scorer in the Continental League (KHL). His name is circulating a lot in the community, on social media, but it has not yet been covered much by local media.

Mathieu Brosseau, sports journalist based in France, notes the same thing. Among the initiated, it is a star. But in the street, you would have to arrest 1000 French people before interviewing one who knows his name.

Nevertheless, it is believed that Da Costa will be able to inspire a new generation of French hockey players. A bit like Cristobal Huet did. His successes inevitably have an effect. It can create a ripple effect in younger people.

Philippe Bozon, who played in the National Hockey League (NHL) with the Saint Louis Blues, remains realistic nonetheless.

The fact remains that it’s complicated to create a craze for hockey here.

The main obstacle to the development of sport remains funding, as Huet and Da Costa have already pointed out.

We do not have the economic means of the Germans and the Swiss. We are fighting to obtain funding with other sports that are already well established. The money would make it possible to send coaches to local clubs, to provide better follow-up on the pitch.

The income of organizations depends mainly on spectators. For now, the first hockey championship in France, the Magnus League, is being held back by the pandemic. But in normal times, the crowds are not more numerous. On average, we are talking about less than 2000 (New window) spectators per match.

To increase ridership, investments are necessary, according to Philippe Bozon.

In the Magnus League, some teams welcome a good number of amateurs, he underlines. But you need quality facilities. Some ice rinks in Rouen and Angers have been recently renovated. To welcome people, the place has to be welcoming. With services, lodges, etc.

Mathieu Brosseau, who also works for a European championship hockey team, agrees.

There is a big disparity between the regions. There are good facilities in Rouen or in the Alps, but hardly any in Paris, he said.

The Olympics in the crosshairs

The structure of French hockey, already fragile, has been shaken by the pandemic. Not only is the professional league now sluggish, but the national team, led by Bozon, must rethink their preparation for the Beijing Olympics in 2022.

He scores a goal against a goalie lying on the ice.

In 2002, Philippe Bozon helped his country qualify for the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

Photo: dpa via getty images / GEORGE FREY

The French team were to be in competition last August in order to qualify for the Games. The tournament has been postponed for a year due to COVID-19. Unlike other nations, whose sports leagues have resumed their activities, France is in a very difficult situation.

It’s been more than a year since we could bring our players together on the ice in preparation for qualifying, explains Bozon.It is clearly a disadvantage that we will have to deal with, because there is a danger that our players in the League Magnus, who cannot play games, lose pace.

With a qualification now scheduled for August, when the activities in the NHL are over, the coach will be able to count on quality reinforcement.

There are three French players at the moment in the NHL: Alexandre Texier, Pierre-Édouard Bellemare and Antoine Roussel. It should help us.

The Blues will bet a lot on Stéphane Da Costa, who will occupy a crucial role.

It will clearly be our leader, says Philippe Bozon. He’s a magician with the puck. Even though he doesn’t play in the NHL, I consider him to be NHL caliber.

The stakes are high, according to Mathieu Brosseau.

We are talking about the visibility that this could bring to France, if Da Costa wins the Gagarin Cup or the scorers’ championship. But what would really allow the sport to grow here is if it helps France qualify for the Olympics. The last time was in Salt Lake City.

The national team will have the opportunity to get their ticket to the Olympic tournament next August in Latvia.


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