While I’d love to believe the “world” part in the World Junior Hockey Championship is truly globally felt, I can’t help but feel the true mindless obsession for this relatively new holiday tradition ends south of Windsor, east of St. John’s and west of Victoria. In other words, like most of the other things in the hockey world, its heart, lungs and lower intestines are metaphorically based in Canada.
That would seem to make a lot of sense considering the fact it is a Canadian game after all, and although I have no definitive proof of this – perhaps Norway does have an equivalent to SportsCentre that I’m not presently aware of – I would hazard a guess the rest of the world isn’t nearly as dedicated to this as Canadians appear to be.
In fact, after watching the frenetic and frantic coverage on TSN (Canada’s version of ESPN, but curiously spelled slightly different), you might think there’s lives at stake over what’s up for grabs here. I contend that, if world hockey supremacy’s truly that special, they probably wouldn’t have to hold a contest to acquire it every single year.
Of course that doesn’t stop TSN from ramping up the hyperbole. We have your pre-tournament specials; your pre-game specials; your post-game recaps and your post-tournament requiem/autopsy – depending how that eternal Quest for Gold thing goes.
And let’s not forget the game coverage itself. While Americans have Mom, apple pie, baseball and automatic weapons, Canadians rarely have an opportunity to display their own mindless patriotism – at least not since Bruno Gerussi died (editor’s note: look it up). This tourney provides ample opportunity to do those things: To paint one’s face, wave a flag or flash the Number One sign – sometimes even while sober.
As a comparison, try looking around at the people in the stands at these games cheering for the other teams. Sure you’ll see a collection of odd hats, multi-colored sweaters and a lot of people who look like Harry Potter, but the emotional fervor doesn’t seem as, well, insane as it does with the Canadian fans.
This isn’t to say the Slovakians aren’t as nuts about their boys as the Canadians are, but you can be sure they don’t have one of their television analysts at the game getting as cuckoo excited about no-touch icing as one Pierre McGuire does.
European support – in hockey at least - seems to be done so with a little more decorum, like they’re saying: If we don’t beat them at this ice hockey thing we’ll try soccer or build a stylish five-piece living room sectional at an incredibly low price. In essence, their world isn’t about to end if their group of teenagers don’t beat the snot out of another group of teenagers.
I suppose that may be why this tournament is so highly regarded in some circles. You’re basically asking a loose collection of 18-year-olds to defend the honor and integrity of a nation momentarily obese on turkey dressing, apple pie and egg nog.
These boys, with hormones likely pre-occupied with grand conquests of another sort, are forced to direct their physical and emotional energy to the solitary task of knocking off the hated Russians, the hated Americans, the hated Czechs or those cute Danes.
The fate of the entire hockey world, at least the Canadian fixation with it, rests on a few select shoulders of the Facebook generation.
If hockey supremacy was problem skin and Canadian boys were facial lotion, evidently acne wouldn’t have a chance.
The preceding was purely fictional and meant for entertainment purposes only. By entertainment, we mean we hope you laughed while reading it, framing it, or burning it. Any similarities between this and actual events is strictly coincidental and frankly, dumb luck. Remember to remind your lawyer about the made-up part, OK?
Charlie Teljeur, creator of THN's hockeysockpuppettheatre, brings you Loose Change every Thursday only on thehockeynews.com. Subscribe to The Hockey News today to have Charlie's cartoon delivered to you in each issue.
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