Back in March, I tried to wrap my head around this World Cup of Hockey. At the time, I was disappointed the NHL and NHLPA had "fiddled with the basic premise" by introducing two teams that are not countries.
In a couple of hours, I'll be tuning in to watch Canada face one of those manufactured teams in game one of the best-of-three final. Team Europe, a team we beat 4-1 in the round robin, is tasked with trying to halt Canada's 14-game win streak in best-on-best competition.
As this tournament approached, I wasn't sure if I'd get into it. My Jays are in a wildcard spot, it sure doesn't feel like the Olympics and there are those aforementioned manufactured teams that still irk me.
But I'm definitely watching. I don't think I've missed one of Canada's games, and I caught quite of bit of Team North America. It's been awfully entertaining, even though Canada's thoroughly dominated. I've enjoyed the World Cup, but I think I'd be more excited about tonight if we were facing Sweden, Russia or the United States.
Here's hoping they go back to eight countries next time. It still won't feel like the Olympics, but we'll be a great deal closer.
Go Canada, Go!
I don't blame the NHL and NHLPA for putting together the World Cup of Hockey. The Olympic hockey tournament is the very best and why wouldn't the NHL and NHLPA want to cash in on such an event? The World Cup of Hockey is theirs, unsanctioned by the IIHF, with NHL rules and NHL refs. I get it...
What I'm struggling with is the under-23 Team North America. This is the team that will star Conner McDavid and will compete against Team Canada. I love best-on-best tournaments when I can get 100% behind Canada as we take on other nations. And the two countries I love to beat most are Russia and the United States.
McDavid and other under-23 Canadian hockey stars will be playing alongside the Americans on that team. This does two things that bother me:
- It dilutes Team Canada, removing some players that I'd like to see play for my country
- It forces me to cheer on the United States if I'm going to root for Team North America
I'm still trying to wrap my head around this tournament, I just wish they hadn't fiddled with the basic premise by introducing the under-23 Team North America. It alone has made me care much, much less about winning this tournament than an Olympic gold medal.
This is not to say I won't be watching. As an NHL fan, there will be general curiosity, and I'll likely tune in. I just won't really care if we don't win it all, and I'd never say that about the Olympics.
What do you think about the World Cup of Hockey?
I absolutely adore the world junior hockey championship. Every year, I look forward to watching Team Canada and catching as many games as I can.
I've been watching every year, but this is the first year my son is as excited as I am. I asked him why he's suddenly on board, and he tells me it's because of William Nylander and Mitch Marner. My son is following their AHL and OHL seasons closely, getting excited about his Leafs' future. He'll be beside me at 1pm today when Canada faces USA in the opening game.
The Leafs are actually sending five prospects to this year's world juniors.
- Mitch Marner
- William Nylander
- Travis Dermott
- Dmytro Timashov
- Kasperi Kapanen
Let's hope for a repeat of this.
Other than high school, my son's hockey and baseball house league and my own slo-pitch and hockey championships, I've never seen a sports final live in person.
I wasn't at the dome when Joe Carter touched them all in '93, I've never been alive for a Maple Leaf Stanley Cup game, and the Raptors have never made it out of the second round. I've never attended a Grey Cup, a Vanier Cup, a Memorial Cup or whatever the lacrosse league calls their championship. The most prominent trophy I had ever seen decided in person was the Prentice Cup, which I saw won by Michael Power's high school baseball team in '93.
But tonight that all changed. I was at an electric and jam-packed ACC for Canada vs. Russia and watched my team win gold. What was once a 5-1 laugher quickly morphed into an intense, white-knuckled nail-biter as we barely held on for a 5-4 win. But we did win, and it was amazing.
I didn't know the ACC could get so loud and have such energy. Every seat was filled at the start of the first period with a jersey-wearing hockey fan. It was absolutely amazing.
I must give a monster thanks to Telus who not only gave me the ticket so I could see this amazing game, but also gave me the jersey I'm wearing in the pic below. Thank you for a most excellent night I'll never forget.
Here are a few other pics I took, of the final face-off late in the third, the gold medal celebration and the singing of O Canada.
I love this tournament. I always have. Canada games during the World Juniors are mandatory viewing for me, regardless of the time zone.
This time, the tournament is in Canada. In fact, I'll be attending the gold medal game at the ACC. Here's hoping we're playing in that one.
Here's Canada's roster for the 2015 World Juniors:
|Player||Pos||Draft year||League||Current team|
|Zachary Fucale||G||2013 (36th)||QMJHL||Quebec Remparts|
|Eric Comrie||G||2013 (59th)||WHL||Tri-City Americans|
|Josh Morrissey||D||2013 (13th)||WHL||Kelowna Rockets|
|Darnell Nurse||D||2013 (7th)||OHL||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds|
|Samuel Morin||D||2013 (11th)||QMJHL||Rimouski Oceanic|
|Shea Theodore||D||2013 (26th)||WHL||Seattle Thunderbirds|
|Madison Bowey||D||2013 (53rd)||WHL||Kelowna Rockets|
|Joe Hicketts||D||2014||WHL||Victoria Royals|
|Dillon Heatherington||D||2013 (50th)||WHL||Swift Current Broncos|
|Max Domi||F||2013 (12th)||OHL||London Knights|
|Anthony Duclair||F||2013 (80th)||NHL||New York Rangers|
|Sam Reinhart||F||2014 (2nd)||WHL||Kootenay Ice|
|Connor McDavid||F||2015||OHL||Eerie Otters|
|Nick Ritchie||F||2014 (10th)||OHL||Peterborough Petes|
|Curtis Lazar||F||2013 (17th)||NHL||Ottawa Senators|
|Nic Petan||F||2013 (43rd)||WHL||Portland Winterhawks|
|Nick Paul||F||2013 (101st)||OHL||North Bay Battalion|
|Robby Fabbri||F||2014 (21st)||OHL||Guelph Storm|
|Lawson Crouse||F||2015||OHL||Kingston Frontenacs|
|Frederik Gauthier||F||2013 (21st)||QMJHL||Rimouski Oceanic|
|Jake Virtanen||F||2014 (6th)||WHL||Calgary Hitmen|
|Brayden Point||F||2014 (79th)||WHL||Moose Jaw Warriors|
Go Canada, Go!
After a bunch of boring speeches, they just unveiled the members of Team Canada for the Sochi Olympic games. There were some great players named, and some great players left off the team. Here's our Canadian men's hockey team for the Sochi Olympic games.
- Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars
- Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
- Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings
- Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
- Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche
- Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
- Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh Penguins
- Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks
- Rick Nash, New York Rangers
- Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks
- Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks
- Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
- John Tavares, New York Islanders
- Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
- Jay Bouwmeester, St. Louis Blues
- Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
- Dan Hamhuis, Vancouver Canucks
- Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks
- Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues
- P. K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens
- Marc-Édouard Vlasic, San Jose Sharks
- Shea Weber, Nashville Predators
- Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks
- Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
- Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes
I'm not sure I'd have chosen Marleau and Kunitz, and it's interesting that Claude Giroux didn't make this team, but who am I to argue with Steve Yzerman?
I'm watching the world junior hockey exhibition game between Canada and Finland and they just aired a Nike ad on TSN.
Live sports is the only time I see ads because it's the only time I watch live TV. This "Hockey Is Ours" ad from Nike, however, nails it.
Hockey in this country cannot be locked out. My favourite weekly ritual is heading to the rink on Saturday morning to watch my son play. I love hockey, with or without the NHL, and it will thrive, without or without 'em.
The 40th anniversary of "The Goal" is mere days away, and Norm MacDonald has tweeted his memories of the 1972 Summit Series. It's an amazing read.
Speaking of, it was said in 1972 that Canada was the best in two things: Hockey and Wheat.
The Soviets always won The Gold Medal, though, and Canada never did. You see, the Soviet Amatuers, all servicemen, were very good.
The Captains and Majors and Colonels found time in their busy schedule to practice their forechecking.
In 1972, they decided it was time to play the real Boys of Winter, and The Summit Series started.
Game one would be played in the House Richard built, The Montreal Forum. The Canadians were confident? No, they were cocky.
No less a broadcaster than the mighty Foster Hewitt, the man who first said "He shoots. He scores", is lured out of retirement to voice it.
Hewitt has as much trouble with the French-Canadian names as he does the Russians.His mangling of Cornouyer's name especially vexing to me.
I'd never seen a game from the Forum not called by Danny Galivan and Dick Irvine, but this was history and so was Foster Hewitt.
It is constructed as an 8 game series, with no overtime, and my friends and I are outraged. What if it's tied. That's not hockey!
The men on the ice in pregame looked odd, buzzcuts, workmanlike, without style, odd. I was only 8.I didn't know what CCCP meant.Still don't.
The puck is dropped and the real Cold War begins. NOW!!!!
3 hours later, eyes stinging, cheeks wet, nose running. Inconsolable. 7-3? Impossible. As stunned as Dryden must be, I thought.
In Toronto, things go well, the universe unfolding as it should as our Prime Minister was fond of saying. Canada wins 4-1. Series is even.
And after Maple Leaf Gardens, it is on to Winnipeg and my worst fear comes true. Hockey Anathema: A Tie. Series remains even.
We are all very disappointed. I read my hockey cards constantly and tell my friends not to worry. But I am worried. Very worried.
In Vancouver now, for the final game before we go to Russia. The crowd is booing my heroes. I can't believe it. Some are cheering the enemy.
Team Canada, now stripped of home-ice advantage by its very fans, loses another. Phil Esposito, the Boston Scoring Machine, lashes out.
And now my heroes land in Russia. None have ever been there.
They are put up in a decidedly shabby hotel and are surrounded at all times by an intimidating KGB presence. It shows the next day. We lose.
The old folks start saying The Russians are a better team, play a better style of hockey, old time, never unmoving. The kids disagree.
But scores don't lie. The Red Army leads 3 games to 1, with a loathed tie, and there are 3 to play on Commie Ice with Commie Refs.
Their names are household now in Canada. Kharlamov, Yakushev, Tretiak. Game 6 and we are very scared.
And then, in game 6, the old time hockey faces the new style when assistant coach John Ferguson, the first goon ever has a word with Bobby.
Bobby Clark, the toughest great player of all time, is told by Ferguson that Kharlamov's ankle looks sore and might need some attention.
Clarke, like a surgeon, slices both tendons and sends Kharlamov hobbling out of the game and back to military service.Who's intimidated now?
Canada prevails in a low-scoring game by this Series' standards with a 3-2 victory. The winning goal is scored by Paul Henderson.
The Red Army would play The Flyers years later, and they would remember Bobby Clarke. Bobby would remember Moscow, and Flin Flon, too.
We go to Game 7, and hopes of winning the series, are pretty much gone now. But we need this win or we have to start a Game 8 as losers. My friends and I agree. If we lose tonight, then Game 8 will see the ice of Moscow stained red with Russian blood.
We win 4-3. The winning score belongs to Paul Henderson. And now there is hope. The biggest fear for me is the fear that I had had since the start. A tie.
And now worse news comes. The Soviets, who had gone to great pains to make this thing an 8-game series with no overtimes, make a statement. The Soviets say there will be no tie after all. If this game ends in a tie they will claim victory, as they have scored more series' goals.
Oh, well, I'm sure it won't come to that.
Game 8. There will be no school in Canada today. A history class? Ridiculous. History instead. But there is school, I'm told in the morning. You can watch at home or at school. School with the older kids from grades 5, 6, and 7.
The gymnasium is packed. Blue mats are everywhere. The teachers are like children today. "We're gonna win", I say to anyone, "You'll see. Cournoyer will score the winner."
"Helluva time for Bobby Orr to be hurt", the Latin teacher says. "Goddamned Commies", says Mr. Rose.
The puck is dropped and all is silent. The entire first period is very tough to watch. But we get through it. Together. In the first intermission the gymnasium is alive with raw nerve. The young all say we will win for sure. The old men don't.
Mr. McCarthy has a new explanation for our upcoming national loss. It's the WHA's the real culprit. Team Canada with no Bobby Hull. Harrumph. The second period is like taking a punch in the gut from the school bully.
I go outside so the big kids won't see my tears. Mr. McCarthy, smoking a cigarette. "Don't worry kid, things don't work out a lot in life."
The unimaginable is 20 minutes away now, the gym is grim. But Esposito scores and we all go nuts and we're running in the gym now. Sitting cannot contain this.
And then the greatest moment in my life.
Yvan Cournoyer, my hero, scores and ties the game. Or does he. My elation pushes me into the arms of an old lady that taught me geography. Everyone is everywhere, cheering. And I replay the goal in my mind. And I see that something is missing. The red light.
And I see the little M climbing over the boards and into the crowd, we are all surrounding the TV on wheels now, Eagleson is there. The score counts. The game is tied.
THE SERIES IS TIED!!!!!!!! And still a half a frame to play. But no extra time.
That was the deal.
And now talk turns to the tie scenario. "A tie's a tie" says Jimmy, "and it don't matter what the Russians say." Maybe, they'll play overtime because nobody expected this, I say. I had expected it in the way of dread.
I'd rather The Russians score than it end up a tie, I said very quietly and to myself, and then felt very bad about having said it.
Two minutes left. The old man I don't know says we'll win the rematch and this time we'll have Hull, and Sanderson too. Trudeau will see to it. There's only a minute or so left now, but Cournoyer was on the ice and an small boy's hope has no bounds.
We're all on our feet now and Team Canada has it in enemy territory. Cournoyer has it. "Cournoyer is my guy" I yell. Everyone knows this.
Cold wars don't end in ties.
Cournoyer blasts a shot. Henderson has a chance to redirect it but falls and crashes into the boards behind the net. The puck gets past 2 Russian defensemen and finds the stick of Espo, who swats it toward the net. And now from nowhere is Henderson.
It's just Henderson and Tretiak now. Everyone else alive watches. I feel like I'm choking. Henderson, so close to the Russian netminder, shoots and is denied, but then the second. Henderson scores with 38 seconds left. The nation is in unbelief.
The old come to their feet. I go to the air. I'm still there.
Well, that was easy.
Most of the chatter heading into this tournament revolved around Mark Stone and he didn't disappoint, scoring a hat trick. It's too bad he's a Senators prospect.
Jonathan Huberdeau had a great game as well, scoring a goal and five points. We've got the Czech Republic next, Wednesday at 8pm.
My favourite Boxing Day tradition isn't shopping, it's settling in to watch the Canadian juniors open their World Junior Championship. The 2011 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships take place in Calgary and Edmonton and we play Finland at 3:30pm.
Here's our team this year:
|29||Mark Visentin *||Waterdown, Ont.||Niagara (OHL)||PHX ’10 (1, 27)|
|30||Scott Wedgewood||Brampton, Ont.||Plymouth (OHL)||NJ ’10 (3, 84)|
|2||Jamie Oleksiak||Toronto, Ont.||Saginaw (OHL)||DAL ’11 (1, 14)|
|3||Brandon Gormley - A||Murray River, P.E.I.||Moncton (QMJHL)||PHX ’10 (1, 13)|
|4||Dougie Hamilton||Toronto, Ont.||Niagara (OHL)||BOS ’11 (1, 9)|
|5||Mark Pysyk||Sherwood Park, Alta.||Edmonton (WHL)||BUF ’10 (1, 23)|
|6||Scott Harrington||Kingston, Ont.||London (OHL)||PIT ’11 (2, 54)|
|27||Ryan Murray||White City, Sask.||Everett (WHL)||2012 Dft.|
|28||Nathan Beaulieu||Strathroy, Ont.||Saint John (QMJHL)||MTL ’11 (1, 17)|
|8||Jaden Schwartz * - C||Wilcox, Sask.||Colorado College (WCHA)||STL ’10 (1, 14)|
|10||Michaël Bournival||Shawinigan-Sud, Que.||Shawinigan (QMJHL)||MTL/COL ’10 (3, 71)|
|11||Jonathan Huberdeau||St-Jérôme, Que.||Saint John (QMJHL)||FLA ’11 (1, 3)|
|12||Brendan Gallagher||Tsawwassen, B.C.||Vancouver (WHL)||MTL ’10 (5, 147)|
|13||Freddie Hamilton||Toronto, Ont.||Niagara (OHL)||SJ ’10 (5, 129)|
|14||Brett Connolly * - A||Prince George, B.C.||Tampa Bay (NHL)||TB ’10 (1, 6)|
|15||Tanner Pearson||Kitchener, Ont.||Barrie (OHL)||2012 Dft.|
|16||Mark Stone||Winnipeg, Man.||Brandon (WHL)||OTT ’10 (6, 178)|
|18||Ryan Strome||Mississauga, Ont.||Niagara (OHL)||NYI ’11 (1, 5)|
|19||Mark Scheifele||Kitchener, Ont.||Barrie (OHL)||WPG ’11 (1, 7)|
|20||Boone Jenner||Dorchester, Ont.||Oshawa (OHL)||CBJ ’11 (2, 37)|
|21||Quinton Howden * - A||Oak Bank, Man.||Moose Jaw (WHL)||FLA ’10 (1, 25)|
|22||Devante Smith-Pelly - A||Scarborough, Ont.||Anaheim (NHL)||ANA ’10 (2, 42)|
The IIHF World Junior Championship is our March Madness and I love it. Go Canada Go!
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