Sunday, January 10, 2010

World Junior Dissapointment and Reflection

Another country actually winning the World Junior Hockey Championships? On Canadian soil no less? There must be some mistake? That couldn't possibly happen could it? Is the American hockey program catching up to ours which is essentially our worst nightmare!? There answer is: no. Yes the Americans and, I think, the Swedes had better teams in this tournament then Canada did; Team Canada was held back by two circustances:

1) As Don Cherry and every Canadian hockey fan under the sun has been pointing out since John Carlson scored the winning goal for the US in overtime, there are many young Canadian players who are already staring in the NHL (i.e. Tyler Myers, Steven Stamkos, Michael Del Zotto, John Tavares, Matt Duchane, Ryan O'Reilly, Drew Doughty who was good enough to be the 7th defensman on the Canadian Olympic team for Christ's sake, Luke Schenn, Josh Bailey, Evander Kane) and injured (last year's reigning CHL player of the year Cody Hodgson).

2) Hockey Canada's arrogance and head coach Willie Desjardins' brutally flawed selection process of the Team. Hockey Canada believes that they can throw any collection of players out on the ice and would be succesful. Desjardins put together a team that was built to win in the WHL where he coach's (Medicine Hat): Big, strong, and tough. However a side effect of those attributes happens to be the one that screwed Team Canada at the end: speed. When the gold medal game went to overtime I knew that Canada had no chance of winning unless they could hold out until the shootout. At 4 on 4 with all that extra open ice, speed kills. And the Americans had way more of that then the Canadians. Their forwards were way faster then the Canadian defense who played like their feet were encased in frozen carbonyte. It got so bad that Desjardins lost so much faith in two of his handpicked defenseman, Calvin de Haan and Jared Cowan in particular, that he didn't play them basically at all over the last 3 games and had to play forward Brandon MacMillan on defense quite a bit. And MacMillan had been a very effective forward.

So with a revamping of the Canadian coaching staff next year who takes speed (a key attribute in international tournaments particularly on the backend as this years World Junior Silver Medalists and Team Canada's seventh place finishers at the Turin Olympics would attest) we will probably be back on top in Buffalo next year.

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