Thursday, January 5, 2012

Canadian Juniors

After watching the semi-final game between Canada and Russia I had a lot of problems with the way things turned out. It was not necessarily the fact that the Canadians lost, although that was a disappointment, but rather the reaction by many during the game and after.

My first text message after the game was "Well you don't win hockey games by only showing up for the third period". They allowed the Russians to go up by 6 goals, they took stupid penalties out of frustration, and they acted like they were entitled to win the game and couldn't understand why it wasn't happening.

That being said, the amazing comeback in the third period is not something to overlook. It was entertaining, exhilarating, and had the entire country holding their breath to see if they would actually pull it off and at least force extra time. In the end it was not enough and Canada ended up playing for, and winning, the bronze medal against the Finns. Watching the bronze medal game, you can sense the country's disappointment as the atmosphere is clearly not as excited as it could be.

The Canadian boys, and some members of the media, were unhappy with the Russian players comments after the game, calling them ungracious and that the Canadians would have handled themselves a lot better.

However, Russia basically said that they were the better team, and the first two periods and the final result back up those statements. The Russian captain Kuznetsov got the most flack for his attitude during the game and after, however he had a hat trick in the game and a 4 point night. Like it or not, he earned the right to be arrogant after that performance.

I think a big problem is that as Canadians we have a sense of entitlement when it comes to hockey. The tournament has been held in Canada, or a bordering city, since 2009. This is because the majority of the tournaments viewership is in North America, and primarily Canada. I think that having the tournament outside of Canada for the next two years will do the tournament good, but also help team Canada as well.

Canada's attitude of gold or nothing is arrogant. There are other competitors in the tournament looking to win gold, and play hard every game to try and get there. Bronze is not a consolation prize that's handed out to participants. I'm sure Finland would have rather bronze than leaving empty handed.

Another problem Canada runs up against is the fact that during the round robin, they rarely have competition unless they play the United States, Russia or Sweden. This year they had no real competition, as the United States was mathematically eliminated before the New Year's Eve game. If you look at the tournament back to at least 2009, you'd see that when playing any of these three teams, Team Canada struggles.

In the year they won gold in Ottawa, Canada almost lost to both the US and Russia. These games were far more exciting and riveting than the5-1 win over Sweden that won them gold. The game against Russia was only tied up with 5 seconds left by Jordan Eberle forcing extra time. This year's game against Russia caused many people to remember that and hope for a similar turn of events to happen.

Canada needs to realize that these three teams, at least, are opponents that require more than just a basic effort of showing up and shooting the puck. We might be good at hockey, but so are they, and we haven't won gold since 2009, so we need to stop relying on the idea that we are the dominant country in hockey, and either prove it or stop talking about it. We're not going to win games 10-0, so we need to show up and play the game.

The last problem I had, and it's a problem that happens every year and us Canadian fans need to grow up and realize this, is that when you boo Team Canada at the game, you're booing kids under the age of 20!

In a lot of people's eye's they're not even adults yet. These kids give up their Christmas, family and friends time, and free time to play and train for our country. What were you doing at their age? I know I wasn't doing that. So stop booing our boys when they have a bad game, and remember that it's a game, they're kids and booing makes us look ignorant.


  1. I completely agree with you! While I'm a proud Canadian and will cheer for my team until my very last breath, I am realistic enough to understand that the notion of being champions every freaking year is unattainable. I get that this tournament is HUGE in Canada, but most fans pretty much disregard junior hockey anyway. I see the attitude problem, like God forbid another country actually gets GOOD enough to compete with us. Thank you for writing this!

  2. Seriously, if a 19 year-old kid can't get excited and celebrate scoring a hat trick on the international stage, I can't think of any reasons to watch hockey anymore.