World Juniors Hockey Championships 2011: Aftermath

Christopher Ralph is THW’s prospect and draft analyst.

 

Canada’s third period collapse against Russia in the gold medal game is now not so ancient history. Executing three valiant comebacks in three consecutive elimination games, the Russians have to be commended for showing the heart and determination their international squads have recently sorely lacked all too often at various levels of play – from the juniors to the Olympics.

Team Canada played a near perfect game against a strong USA team in the semi-finals. Two periods into the contest with a 3-nil lead, it looked promising for a return to the top for the first nation of hockey. It was not to be, however, and although the players were beyond disappointed, when the dust settles and the zamboni makes its rounds – the boys should be very proud of their performance.

As TSN’s Bob MacKenzie stated:  “Yup, that’s hockey, that’s junior hockey. ”

And maybe, just maybe, it’s the hockey gods’ way of balancing the scales a touch and sending along a little message, as hockey gods are wont to do sometimes.

Perhaps something along the lines of, Stay humble, Canada, stay humble.

Should Canadian hockey fans be concerned?

 

Fear not Canadian hockey fans. Canadian hockey at the grassroots level is far from on a downward spiral. While Team USA was missing NHLer Cam Fowler (Anaheim Ducks) and Sweden were without eligible prospects Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Phoenix Coyotes), Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson (Edmonton Oilers) and Jacob Josefson (New Jersey Devils), imagine Team Canada roster with the following eligible players:

  • Taylor Hall (Edmonton Oilers) – The dynamic forward still finding his way in the NHL, but shows glimpses of greatness. Even with Eberle and MPS on board, he is the cornerstone of the Oilers franchise.
  • Tyler Seguin (Boston Bruins) – While this season has not been exactly a masterpiece, Seguin will soon be making every rink in the NHL his canvas. He possesses ridiculous upside.
  • Jeffrey Skinner (Carolina Hurricanes) – Opportunistic scorer leads NHL in rookie scoring with 31 points in 40 games. Those who questioned his skating looking pretty foolish right about now.
  • Matt Duchene (Colorado Avalanche) – If the 2009 draft were redone today, the Joe Sakic clone would likely have gone first overall.
  • Evander Kane (Atlanta Thrashers) – The 19 year old forward has 26 points in 40 games for the surprising Thrashers.
  • Ryan O’Reilly (Colorado Avalanche) – Before his 20th birthday, the reliable two-way forward has been a stalwart defensively for the Avs.
  • Tyler Toffoli (Los Angeles Kings) – Toffoli was not picked for Team Canada. What did he do  in response in the OHL after returning to his squad – he potted 5 goals in one game shortly thereafter.

The above players would have created a seemingly unbeatable Team Canada squad. The consequence though would have been possibly missing out on the coming out party of forwards like Ryan Johansen (Columbus Blue Jackets).

Russia, it should be noted, only has one player eligible to return, ultra-talented Evgeny Kuznetsov (Washington Capitals),  for the 2012 WJCs U20 in Calgary/Edmonton, Alberta (Canada).

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6 thoughts on “World Juniors Hockey Championships 2011: Aftermath”

  1. Emereski: I appreciate the comments.

    I have to strongly disagree when you try and put “Canada”, “hockey” and “no heart” in the same sentence. For me, end of discussion.

    Bottom line, from the simplistic observation of this particular article, if you would have taken away 6 or 7 of each nation’s top players from their team in the past WJCs, Team Canada likely could have won gold with weights strapped on their bodies. Ok – maybe a little exaggeration but you see my point.

    I, for one, am still of the belief it is good to see other nations emerge (or bounce back to form in Russia’s case) to give hockey at all levels a competitive environment. It makes victory all the more sweet and losing all the more bitter.

  2. If you understand Canada’s overwhelming depth advantage at the junior level you would be surprised that before their 5 gold streak, they went for the same streak of losing in the playoffs to inferior teams.
    What about World Championships? Canada ices year in and year out the deepest team on paper (even if it is not their A or B team but that’s not an excuse for losing to inferior talent) and this is exactly when you’d expect showing some heart.
    Olympics is a very interesting case too. In Japan and Europe (i.e. best on best outside of North America) no single medal (for both NA teams BTW) despite icing the best and deepest teams on paper. But then the gold on NA ice. I would expect more heart and drive while playing outside of home.
    Canada’s problem not talent but heart (same with USA). Having more talent through all lines and D than anyone but aren’t delivering result 50 % of the time (while playing most of the time in NA).

  3. If we had this if we had that. How much more help do you need? Canada had 15 1st rounders vs. 5 drafted players total on the Russian team. Russia was one of the least deepest teams among the top 4 (as always though).

    It was similar in 2009 too. Russia icing an average team took it to all star team Canada (scoring 5 goals) and gave them their biggest fight by taking it to the SO.

    Canada’s heart most of the time mixed with Canada’s depth. They always ice the deepest teams at any tournament but they lose way too many times to consider them having some special heart.

    PS: At the WJC 2002 Russia had very similar tournament to this one. Losing to Finland (this time it was Sweden) and Canada in the robins and then beating them in the play-offs after making comebacks.

    • Emereski:
      I’m confused by this statement ” they lose way too many times”..

      Do you know what the history of this tournament is?
      Over the last 10 years the Canadian boys have the following record.
      silver
      silver
      silver
      gold
      gold
      gold
      gold
      gold
      silver
      silver

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