Thursday, January 08, 2009


Canadian Junior Wrap UP-2009

A few final glimpses at the World Under 20 Junior Championships from Ottawa.

After the final buzzer sounded, and the confetti rained down on the players and the ice, the flag was raised and the fans belted out the anthem. The Canadians had been successful for a fifth straight time, and there were even chants of “We want Six, We want Six!” I am fairly sure it was six they said, although they were young and spirited, and it did sound remarkably similar to something else. I’m sorry, I digress.

At about that point in time, someone appeared with a box of hats. The players are instructed to wear these hats. It is a must. It happens with so many teams that become champions---in all sports. It is a blatant advertisement, a marketing scheme. For years companies have paid for the right to have their products displayed by the winners, and the organizations have benefited from the income.

A couple of the Canadian players decided to play with the concept. John Tavares wore his newly won cap backwards throughout the ceremony. Cute, perhaps as a message. P. K. Subban wore his on the C C Sabathia tilt, which I personally love. The peak of the cap is moved either to the right or to the left, on about a 45 degree angle. It looks quite ridiculous, and CC no longer does it. His hundred million dollar deal with the Yankees may have helped him reconsider his angle of protest.

I sat beside several writers from Montreal. There was a real buzz amongst the group, and frequently overheard were the initials “P. K.”. The fans of the “Bleu, Blanc, and Rouge” can hardly wait to get the Bulls’ defenseman into their camp. As previously noted, his end to end rushes stirred the crowd like no other player throughout the tournament. He was selected to the All Star team, as was Swede Erik Karlsson.

Subban was the undisputed crowd favourite, whereas Karlsson and fellow Swedish blueliner Victor Hedman were constantly met with boos every time they touched the puck. Even goal tender Jacob Markstrom was the brunt of the Canadian fans, especially after some spectacular dives. It is recommended that he save those for the soccer pitch.

It is a game of inches. Against the Russians, the Canadians received a break when Dmitri Klopov iced the puck in an attempt to score into the empty net. There were forty-one seconds remaining in the game, and little hope. Eberle danced across the Russian crease and tied the game with five seconds left.

In the final against Sweden, the Canadians iced the puck at the vacant Swedish net. It struck the post and squirted at an eighty-seven degree angle towards the boards. No icing, no whistle, just a huge break for the Canucks.

With the game still close at 3-1, Evander Kane blew around a tiring Hedman on his way to the net. The Swede was assessed a two minute slashing penalty, with just over six minutes remaining. Momentum crushed.

Eberle potted an empty net goal with almost two minutes remaining. A minute later, the Prime Minister left the building with his son and entourage. He stumbled on the steps, and someone mentioned former U. S. President Gerald Ford. Harper posed for photographs with the fans between the second and third periods. Lucky subjects got a card that indicated they could access the photo from the official photographer. No fee was mentioned.

All the fans clad in red and white left the building with a warm and fuzzy feeling. Surprisingly, there was little wind outside the Scotiabank Place, and it was relatively mild, for Ottawa-probably minus 12.

Next year, Saskatchewan. You will need your woollies for that one Mabel. One perhaps, a bit of that screech from the Rock!

The disc at the top of this blurb is, in fact, the Canadian team’s Media Guide. I had John Tavares sign it after the Bulls-Generals game on Wednesday, January 7, 2009 at the Quinte Sports Centre. Tavares was traded the next day to London. P. K. Subban will also sign that disc, and it will be one of the items up for auction at the McFarlands Tribute Dinner for the Belleville Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday, February 19, 2009.

James Hurst

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