Friday, January 17, 2014


International Hockey-Juniors and the Big Boys

Last week I shared some information with you about the Post Cereal Canadian Hockey League cards. Many of those players spent the holidays in Malmo, Sweden, competing in the World Junior Championships.

There was a fair amount of weeping and gnashing of teeth after the dust had settled from that tournament. The Canadian boys lost the Bronze Medal game to the Russians, for a second straight year. The Russians had advanced to that game by way of a defeat to the Swedes. The Swedish team was strong, and the stands were packed with fans supporting the home squad.

The Russians had defeated the Americans in the quarter finals, which was somewhat shocking, as the Americans were the defending champs. The Canadians had also beaten the Americans, in the preliminary round.  The Canadians bested the Swiss in the quarter finals to face the Finns in the semi-final game.

The Finns won the tournament, to everyone’s surprise. They defeated the Canadians 5-1 in the semi-final, and the Swedes in the final.

Canadian teams always fare better when the tournament is held in North America. Certainly, there is always that jetlag factor to consider. We fans never really know the extent of injuries to the players. The kids are thrown together for the tournament. They are in the middle of the hockey season with their own teams, trying to get to the Memorial Cup. It is not the best time of year to showcase the best we have, as a country.

And that is what is expected for the Olympics. The team has been chosen, and they will depart for Sochi, Russia in a couple of weeks. There was a good deal of speculation regarding the selection of players. The chatter on sports television was almost endless. Personally, I leave those choices in the hands of the people who know what they are doing in their selections. Steve Yzerman chose to leave one of his own players from the Tampa Bay Lightning off the team. Martin St. Louis is a very fine hockey player, and he may be offended by Yzerman’s decision. What comes of that decision is anybody’s guess.

Most local fans were pleased to see that P. K. Subban was chosen to play on the Olympic team. The talking heads in the sports world had Subban “on the bubble” as a member of the team. He did, after all, win the Norris Trophy last year as the league’s best defenceman. He scored a winning goal the other night in overtime to give the Habs a victory. He certainly plays an unconventional style, sometimes throwing caution to the wind; however, with a sensible choice of a defense partner, P. K. will provide a spark to the Canadian game.

These Olympic Games have already been controversial. They are the most expensive yet to date, and have serious political undertones. The Russian government is not exactly in favour of same-sex marriage. Well, what did you expect? The Americans boycotted the Games in Moscow in 1980 because the Russians had invaded Afghanistan! And the Russians boycotted the games in 1984 in Los Angeles because the Americans had boycotted their Games! Around and around we go…..
Here in Fort Myers, I will have to adjust to American coverage of the games. It may be somewhat slanted. Perhaps a little!

James Hurst
January 17, 2014

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