Big Six (ice hockey)
The Big Six in men's international ice hockey are the six national teams that have been dominant in competitive play throughout the history of international hockey and especially since the 1950s. The group is composed of the North American countries of Canada and the United States, and four European countries: Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden. Before the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union/CIS and Czechoslovakia held the places of Russia and the Czech Republic. The four European members are sometimes referred to as the "European Big Four" or "Big Four", especially to distinguish them from the North American teams.
Out of the 207 IIHF World Championships medals awarded, only twenty-one have been won by teams outside the Big Six and only six of those have been won since 1953 (four by Slovakia, two by Switzerland). Of the 72 Olympic ice hockey medals awarded, only 7 have not been won by a Big Six team. The Big Six finished in the top 8 every year since 2011, ensuring that only 2 out of the remaining 10 teams make it to the knockout round.
Olympic Games Men's Ice Hockey Tournament
The Olympics were closed to professionals before 1988. NHL players were not allowed to play until 1998 and were also barred from competing in 2018.
|Finland|| Soviet Union/
IIHF Men's World Championships
Only the tournaments since the formation of the modern Czech Republic team are shown above.
The Canada Cup served as an ice hockey world championship that was governed by NHL rules rather than IIHF rules, and was open to professionals so that NHL players could participate. The 1976 Canada Cup was, therefore, the first time that the best players from every country were able to meet on the ice. The tournament was held five times between 1976 and 1991. Only one team outside of the Big Six, West Germany, was ever allowed to compete in the Canada Cup; this occurred in 1984.
The World Cup of Hockey replaced the Canada Cup after the fall of the Soviet Union. It has been held three times so far, in 1996, 2004 and 2016, and will be held every four years thereafter. Eight teams compete at the World Cup: Germany and Slovakia played the first two editions, whereas Team Europe and Team North America played in 2016.
|Year||Canada||Czechoslovakia||Finland||Soviet Union||Sweden||United States|
|1981||2||3 (tie)||6||1||5||3 (tie)|
|1984||1||5||-||3 (tie)||2||3 (tie)|
|1987||1||3 (tie)||6||2||3 (tie)||5|
|1991||1||6||3 (tie)||5||3 (tie)||2|
World Cup of Hockey
|Year||Canada||Czech Republic||Finland||Russia||Sweden||United States|
|1996||2||7 (tie)||5 (tie)||3 (tie)||3 (tie)||1|
|2004||1||3 (tie)||2||6||5||3 (tie)|
- The CIS team participated at the 1992 Winter Olympics as part of the Unified Team.
- Russia was disqualified from being represented in the tournament due to the Russian doping scandal. However, the Russian national team was allowed to play in the tournament under the Olympic flag and the moniker Olympic Athletes from Russia.
- Note that medals won by the Soviet Union or CIS are credited to Russia, and those of Czechoslovakia are counted for the Czech Republic.
- Note that the rankings include the final ranking of two non-national teams that participated in the tournament: Team North America and Team Europe. Were these teams not to be factored in to the final ranking, Sweden would have placed 2nd, Russia 3rd, the Czech Republic 4th, the United States 5th, and Finland 6th.
- "the Big Six hockey powers -- the United States, Canada, Russia, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Finland" "N.H.L. and Its Teams Send Players to Bench". New York Times. February 2002. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
- "Figuring out the seventh and eighth teams beyond the so-called big six was the biggest hurdle to overcome in planning this event." "NHL announces World Cup of Hockey for 2016". The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. January 2015. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
- "World Cup of Hockey set to return in 2016". NHL.com. January 24, 2015. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
- "Past medalists". IIHF.com. Retrieved 2008-05-12.
- "Ice hockey and Olympism" (PDF). Olympic Review. International Olympic Committee. 1984.
- "Ice hockey – Olympics". Sports-reference.com. Retrieved 2015-02-28.
- Pelletier, Joe; Houda, Patrick (2003). The World Cup of Hockey. Toronto: Warwick Publishing. ISBN 1-894622-17-0.