Soon there will also be a stage for women’s ice hockey at the Spangler Cup.Photo: Cornerstone
Ice Master Zag
The amazing success story of a tournament that has been able to adapt to all sporting and social developments for 100 years.
This saying belongs in our hockey’s cultural history: “Crazy Money in the Mountains.” It was created at the beginning of this century by the player’s agent after negotiations with the makers of HCD at the time. Which definitely has something to do with the Spengler Cup.
In the mountains above, Davos can’t even use its stadium at 70% capacity during the playoffs. The average is just over 4,000 visitors per match, well below league level (a good 6,500 visitors). But the Spengler Cup is the money-printing facility that makes HCD economically competitive and offsets the geographic disadvantage. EHC Arosa, who were on par with HCD and still champions for the last time in 1982, were voluntarily relegated to the highest amateur league in the spring of 1986 due to economic reasons. Without the Spengler Cup, HCD would almost certainly have suffered the same fate.
HC Davos’ biggest successes date back to a period: the last championship dates back to 2015.Photo: KEYSTONE
20 years ago, thanks to the Spengler Cup, Davos temporarily had the highest salaries in the league, and HCD was a capitalist wolf in the sheep’s clothing of poor mountain farms. This financial strength, restored in a dramatic restructuring, has brought HCD six titles (last 2015) and five Spengler Cup titles (last 2011) at the height of high-alpine hockey capitalism.
There is no more mad money in the mountains now. Lowland competition have restructured their business and are now making money with better catering and marketing in their fully refurbished hockey temples.
In the Lowlands, clubs have become public limited companies with subsidiaries offering up to $60m per season (eg SCB) and for the foreseeable future all teams with sport and gastronomy will operate on a $20m budget. This means that HCD is more dependent than ever on the Spengler Cup. so that it is economically on par with the lowland competition, even under the new conditions. With about eleven million, the Spengler Cup makes up nearly a third of the total income of about 30 million in the HCD hockey world. Without the Spengler Cup, HCD would only be in the MyHockey League.
One of the biggest fans: Team Canada (Eric Fair pictured).Photo: KEYSTONE
The saying “mad money in the mountains” now has a different meaning: it is a compliment to skillful management. With the Spengler Cup, the HCD management manages the difficult balancing act between sporting quality, money and politics so well that President Gaudenz Domenig should in fact be a nominee for “Entrepreneur of the Year”.
HCD must assert itself against the League. So that the championship settles in a week last year in favor of the Spangler Cup. Otherwise, it would not be possible to invite a second Swiss team and form the Canada team from foreign players from various clubs. HCD buys this break with a severance pay of 500,000 francs a year to the league.
Another point is the television presence: the oxygen of the Spengler Cup’s work is the presence on public television. No other sporting event in Switzerland owes as much to television broadcasting as the Spengler Cup. Swiss TV has been broadcasting the matches from Davos since 1960. In contrast, Leutschenbach got sports program content with strong ratings during last year’s week. While the league sold its television rights exclusively to private stations for the first time, HCD would remain loyal to Leutschenbach for the next four years. In addition, we have succeeded in making the Spengler Cup even more global by broadcasting it live on Canadian radio, The Sports Network (TSN).
They also want to see their team cheer at the Spengler Cup in Canada.Photo: EPA
In the end, a championship can only exist if the sporting quality is appropriate. Bringing to Davos year after year the best European teams, who have to withdraw from the current tournament in their countries during the centenary week, is a diplomatic sporting masterpiece, for which long-standing Spengler Cup president Freddy Bargazzi (today still) is introduced as a cup advisor. Spengler-General Manager Mark Gianola) to the Hall of Fame (Hall of Fame) of Swiss Ice Hockey.
On the one hand, preserving the tradition (first held in 1923), and on the other hand, adapting the world’s oldest club championship to dynamic changes in business and the sporting community – this is also an often underestimated challenge. It is appropriate to assume that women’s hockey will likely have a stage debut at the next Spengler Cup in 2023. Exactly 100 years after the first event, the advertising slogan would then be possible: “The Spengler Cup will be female.” The slogan of the founder of the championship d. Karl Spengler may not have imagined in his wildest dreams.
Longtime Spengler Cup team boss Freddy Bargazzi (right) with HCD president Gaudenz Domenig (center) and Mark Gianola.Photo: Spengler Cup
How ingrained the Spengler Cup is in Swiss sporting culture is shown by the fact that the cancellations due to the pandemic (no Spengler Cup 2020 and 2021) left the tournament almost unnoticed. The Spengler Cup is shaking again as ever. The old saying “Crazy Hockey Business in the Mountains” is now more relevant than “Crazy Money in the Mountains”.
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