I love watching the WJC every year because of the excitement and passion the kids play with when they represent their country in the biggest international tournament outside of the Olympics.
First, let’s qualify that last statement. The Men’s World Championships are technically the next biggest international tournament behind the Olympics, however, the Men’s Championship is also only played by people who were ousted from the Stanley Cup Playoffs and even then many stars turn the opportunity down (subject of a future post I’m sure). The Juniour Championship on the other hand is played by the best of the best young Hockey Players in the world, and it actually means something to the participants, especially so here in Canada. There is no doubt in my mind that the WJC is #2 in International play only behind the Olympics.
The Canadian team is always a Favourite to win the whole thing and while some might find that boring, as an Oilers fan, it is nice to watch a hockey game with the expectation of actually winning it. Not every kid goes on to have an exceptional career in the NHL. That’s understandable, there’s a lot of development that needs to go on after the age of 19 for someone to become an NHL star, or even an NHL regular. Only in rare cases (like that of RNH) are these kids legit NHL players when they play in this tournament.
Making Team Canada is always difficult, many good players are turned away every year. For some of these guys it’s the first time they’ve ever been cut from a team. I imagine that can be a bit difficult on the ego, and it doesnt make it any easier that Ryan Rishaug is waiting outside the room ready to tweet the name of every player who has to take the walk of shame. Some think this kind of scrutiny is too much. These kids are only teenagers for goodness sake! To those who disapprove I only say one thing, nobody is forcing these kids to try out. Everybody knew exactly what came with trying out for Canada. Make it and be a Hero, fail and get paraded in front of the cameras. It isnt like this is an altogether new phenomenon either. The players at this year’s camp have all grown up watching this coverage. They dreamt of going to these camps and trying out for Canada, they’ve all had vaguely sexual nightmares about Pierre McGuire’s creepy ice level interviews. This is what they want (minus McGuire).
Perhaps though, the best part of the WJC is the unbridled passion the players express on the ice and off it during the tournament. The intensity is cranked through the roof, the national pride is seeping out of their pores, and the level of hockey on display is incredible. The fact that these arent millionaires (well many are from affluent families) makes a big difference. There isnt anybody out there who has something other than hockey on their minds. It’s truly a pleasure to watch the WJC every year, even when the games are played at ridiculous hours of the day.
Go Nuge! Go Team Canada!