VANCOUVER — International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel likes what he sees in the National League.
Fasel said his organization is considering moving all international competition to smaller, NHL-sized surfaces. He thinks it could generate more enthusiasm among fans.
« Perhaps the size of the rink partly explains the high quality of the game (at this edition), » he mentioned.
The tournament wrapped up Saturday at Rogers Arena, home of the Vancouver Canucks.
A standard NHL rink is approximately 61 meters long and 26 meters wide, while the surfaces of many European rinks are approximately four and a half meters wider. Moving to the smaller surface would not be unprecedented.
Hockey was played on an NHL-sized surface at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver because the cost of creating a larger surface was too high, Fasel said.
« So we decided to play on small ice in 2010 and it was an exceptional tournament, » Fasel said, conceding there’s still some resistance to adopting such a surface. When you talk to older people in Europe, they might not be so supportive. But maybe we need this change. »
The organization plans to use NHL-sized ice for the world championships in Finland and the Beijing Olympics in 2022.
Next year’s World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic will use the larger area, however.
More than 300,000 spectators attended games this year, said Hockey Canada president and chief operating officer Scott Smith. Those in Canada drew more than 17,000 supporters.
The numbers are well above last year’s crowds in Buffalo, where thousands of seats sat unoccupied for the majority of games.
The tournament will return to Canada in 2021, in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta.