BRATISLAVA – Canada is storming through Division I with 13-2, 14-0 and 12-1 victories over New Zealand, Hungary and Japan. When the team manager of Team Canada was asked who would be worth an interview, he didn’t hesitate – Kirk French. This already tells a lot about the 31-years-old, who is one of the oldest players on the team, the most experienced with inline and a voted captain. We say no more.
How did you get involved with inline hockey?
I first started in 1993 when some of my friends from my hockey team came up with the idea to play.
Describe the status of inline hockey in your country.
It’s growing immensely! A lot of ice hockey players are finally seeing the value of this game to ice hockey and are getting more and more involved. Canada is back in the IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship after 10 years and I can only see this benefitting the development of inline hockey in our country – now there’s finally a true goal for the 15-17 years old juniors that would otherwise stop playing due to lack of challenge.
How would you compare ice hockey to inline hockey?
It is a more offensive game than ice hockey. In ice hockey, only a third of the rink is offensive, whereas in inline the entire surface can be seen as an offensive zone. The non-existing blueline offside makes the game wide open and makes it possible for the players to spread the rink. This makes it also a lot more creative than ice hockey.
What is the biggest challenge facing inline hockey in Canada in the future?
Changing the perception of the “hard-core ice hockey people” and getting more respect for this game. To them, this sport is still comparable to street hockey; bunch of guys with roller skates, sticks and an object to shoot around. We need to make them realize the advantages of this game to ice hockey. We can only promote inline if we link it to ice hockey in a positive way – this is the only way to make it happen in Canada.
What are your impressions of Bratislava?
A beautiful city! I like travelling and visiting new countries. Obviously it’s very different to Canada, but different is good! There’s a lot of history in this city and I like that everything is so old. In Canada everything’s so new compared to Europe.
Kirk French is hoping to be back next year, wearing the leaf and the C on his jersey!