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August 21, 1996
By Josh Rubin - Toronto Star Sports Reporter
One of the fun things about international sports tournaments is seeing a complete unknown kick some superstar butt.
And as often as not, the viewer sitting at home is asking, ``Who the heck was that?''
Now, for hockey's World Cup beginning next week, the Internet can help answer that question. Want to find out how that dazzling Slovak goaltender did during the regular season? How about that German forward? It's all there.
With the number of North American net surfers, it's perhaps not surprising that there is a surfeit of information about the stars of the Canadian and American World Cup teams. For each NHL team, there are several unofficial home pages, a usenet newsgroup and also an official page.
For season stats of the Canadian and American players, the NHL's home page http://www.nhl.com is a good place to start. Regular season standings since 1917, links to official team home pages and current statistics are on the league site.
USA Hockey's home page http://www.inovatec.com/usahock/ also has mini-biographies of the American team members.
Surprisingly for a tournament of this stature, though, the World Cup's official home page http://www.worldcuphockey.com is in dire straits. Highlights? Well, even though exhibition games have started in Europe and North America, forget about it on this site. Player biographies and stats? Ditto.
It seems that amid all the NHL and NHLPA squabbling over revenue and schedules, their Internet presence for the tournament fell between the cracks. Although improvements have been promised, about all you're likely to find right now are a list of tournament venues, schedules and an invitation to join some kind of fan poll which doesn't seem to exist.
Whether or not the official site can be salvaged in the week before the tournament starts remains to be seen, but judging by what's there now, don't hold your breath for anything too interesting.
But there are lots of other places to get the goods.
Peter Zozulak, a master's student in the Slovak city of Kosice, has put together what seems to be the only page on the world wide web devoted to hockey in his country http://www.upjs.sk/~hockey/engl.html.
Zozulak, who says he was rebuffed by the ``boring old men'' at the Slovak Hockey Federation in his attempts to set up an official site, has nonetheless put together an array of statistics, schedules and news articles about Slovak hockey, both in English and Czecho-Slovak.
Some of the Slovak information can also be found on the page about Czech hockey run by Ivo Dosal and Radek Dresler http://alpha.upol.cz/~hockey/maineng.html. The Czech site features standings and statistics from the top- level Extra League for the past three seasons. Although most of the information is in both English and Czecho-Slovak, the occasional bits which aren't translated are fairly easy to guess at.
But one team expected to do well on the ice is dead last in cyberspace. The Russian national team, which has been plagued by infighting between various cliques, has no web page of either the official or unofficial variety. Even the underdog German team has more sites, such as one put out by yet another student, Klaus Kaiser http://www.leo.org/hockey .
If you want to find out about the Russian players, you're probably best off to look at the home pages of their respective NHL teams like, say, the Detroit Red Wings http://www.nhl.com/teams/det/index.htm .
Or, you could sign on to the IRC channel #hockey to chat with fans from around the world. If you don't feel like live chat, you could always post a message to the newsgroup rec.sport.hockey.
Two countries that don't have the same problem as the Russians are Sweden and Finland. Like the Czech and Slovak teams, the Nordic countries are well-represented on the Internet.
Links to the home pages of Finnish clubs such as powerhouse Jokerit can be found on the page set up by Riku Soininen http://dmiwww.cs.tut.fi/riku/soccer_html/finice.html. Erik Gothe, who studies at Stockholm's Royal Institute of Technology, has set up a similar page of links to Swedish clubs http://www.student.nada.kth.se/~nv92-ego/hockey_eng.html . Like the Finnish pages, most of the Swedish ones are translated into English.
And lest the home front be forgotten, all tournament long, articles by the dynamic duo of Alan Adams and Damien Cox are being posted and archived on The Star's own web site http://www.thestar.com/thestar/ editorial/worldcup/index.html.
Now ref, drop the puck - I'm ready!
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