So you think Canada still has lost an edge in hockey? Sounds like an easy question to answer. But I can bet you no one in Canada has ever doubted their ability to produce great hockey players. No one. Here’s what I managed to take from this year’s tournament.
All this talk about Canada needing a team with more skill in order to win has been obliterated. If anything, the gold medal game must have been a disappointment to the so-called pro-skill movement. Need proof? You obviously were not watching the gold medal game against Russia. Sure this was a talented Canadian team, perhaps more than in previous years, but both Canada and Russia played with an edge the entire game. The intensity was thick from the get-go as Max Domi and Anthony Duclair were pushing off their Russian opponents on the game’s opening face off. Does skill fight for ice? Does it knock players off their skate? Make great defensive plays? Or big saves? Skill does get you goals but I’ve said it time and time again there is more to the game of hockey than putting pucks in the net.
Another thing to take out of the World Junior Hockey Championship is the way Torontoians embraced the tournament. For years, it has gotten a rap, both bad and deserving, of being more of a Maple Leaf town than a hockey town. The Toronto area was, at one time, home to 3 OHL teams — St. Michael’s (Toronto), Mississauga, and Brampton. Now it’s down to one (Mississauga via St. Michael’s) because hardly anyone attended games despite calls for hockey fans to have choices other than the Leafs. I remember during the 2011 Memorial Cup in Mississauga, there were some empty seats at some tournament games, even ones involving the home team. But during the World Junior tournament, thousands of people attended the games at the Air Canada Centre. What’s even more amazing is that none involved the Canadian team. It soon became quite clear to the hockey world where the capital is now located.
Only a fringe group and the media are shocked at the success of the 2015 Canadian Junior team. Canada should be proud today and not afraid of letting the hockey world know about it. Canada has not lost an edge. In fact, they have now raised the bar.