Going For Gold?

Nah. More like a participation ribbon. Bronze, if they’re lucky.

Warning: This post may seem cocky and arrogant in some parts. As always, don’t take everything I say too seriously.

I don’t like Team Canada’s chances at the World Junior Hockey Championships this year. At all. I’ve been saying it since the final roster was named and before the puck had been dropped for their first preliminary game.

I look at the roster and don’t really see any names on it that shouldn’t be there. Every kid on the team seems to have had some level of success at the junior level. Fine. They can represent our country.

But, I do not believe Canada took it’s best talent. Where is Darnell Nurse? Max Domi? Connor Brown?

You mean to tell me that Nurse is good enough to be selected 7th overall in the NHL draft, but can’t make the junior team? Huh? So the Oilers are wrong about the defenseman who averages a point-per-game? Good to know.

I’ve heard people say that Nurse gives the puck away too much, isn’t suited for the big ice surface, etc. Valid reasons. But if I’m running this team, I take the best talent available and hope that they get the job done. I’m not going to rely on players that aren’t picked 7th in the NHL draft, just because I think they are better suited.

It’s like the whole P.K. Subban debate on whether or not he’ll make the Olympic team. I say yes. 100% yes. You take your best and live with their flaws. Because when they are at their best, they can win you games.

If I lose, I want to go down with the best players on the ice.

Max Domi – Small, nifty, creative player with a ton of speed. I thought he would be perfect for the large ice surface in Sweden. Apparently not. Apparently the 12th overall pick in the NHL draft is a defensive liability.

You know how to counteract that? Put him on a line with defensive-minded forwards. That’s the only reason why Tyler Bozak plays on the same line as Phil Kessel with the Leafs. Oh, and they’re roommates. But mainly the defensive thing.

Declining the presence of a scoring threat like Domi is a mistake. If you don’t like the way he plays defense, then put him in situations he can succeed. Make him the 13th forward. Put him on every powerplay unit and pair him with defensive forwards if you’re terrified that the other team will score goals while he is on the ice.

By the way, Domi is a +13 this season, and was a +33 last season, with the London Knights. So, there’s that.

Connor Brown. Who? Connor Brown. The leading scorer of the Ontario Hockey League. How does this guy not make the team? I don’t get it. You lead your league in scoring and don’t make the team? Not even an invitation to selection camp. It’s as if he doesn’t exist. What’s up with that?

Hockey Canada basically told the Oilers and Coyotes that their top prospects were not good enough to be showcased in a tournament with the top junior players around the world. As for Brown, I guess leading your league in points doesn’t mean much, if anything. Aim low, kids!

Let’s talk about goaltending. For the first time in a few years, I actually felt confident about our goaltending situation. Zach Fucale would handle the workload. Jake Paterson would sit on the bench with his OHL career high, 3.64 Goals Against Average. Paterson could use his experience of the tournament to help mentor Fucale and step in between the pipes, if needed.

Wrong. Paterson is the starting goaltender. Again, I don’t get it. Fucale has the better junior numbers this year, by far. In the first two games of the round robin, Paterson has given up the first goal in both games. I’ll give him a break against the Czech Republic. But Germany? We get out of the gates and allow the first goal of the tournament to Germany? If that wasn’t a sign from the Hockey Gods that things were going to be bleak, I don’t know what was.

Overall, I think Hockey Canada is over-thinking everything right now. Canada does not have the best talent in this tournament. Even if they had the players I mentioned, they still wouldn’t be the best. But I think they would be better.

There are no characters on the team. And by that I mean, there isn’t anyone you look at and say they are not stiff, shy, and just happy to be there. It’s like this team has lost their smile.

I’m sure they want to win, but it looks like they are just going through the motions and expecting to come out on top because they have a maple leaf on the front of their jersey.

For a team that consists of players who probably grew up watching heroes like Jordan Eberle and Jonathan Toews, they look unmotivated.

I think the coaching staff and Hockey Canada needs to stop pussyfooting around the best talent. Put Fucale in net. No one in the NHL is drooling over Jake Paterson right now. If NHL scouts can’t be trusted, who can?

Put the best team you can on the ice. Forget about the big ice surface. Forget about defensive mistakes. Forget about players who take too many penalties. This is a 6-7 game tournament! This isn’t a long season. If you have a coach that you trust, then give him the best players, with all their deficiencies, and believe that he can get the most out of them.

Don’t handcuff yourself to players because they fit a certain style. Load your team up with star players that can make an impact. Thank goodness Connor McDavid is on the team or I’d be writing an entire post about how he should be there.

People will look at their shootout loss to the Czech Republic and call it a disappointment. I don’t call it a disappointment. It was an expected result for a team that was out outplayed. In my opinion, they were lucky to get it to the shootout.

My friend and I have followed this tournament together for the last three years. She knows her stuff when it comes to hockey and we’re normally on the same page about everything revolving around Team Canada. Also, I’m able to send her long rants via text that express how infuriated I am with the team sometimes. It’s fun.

Basically, we’ve decided that next year, we are running this team. Together, we will select the players – one’s who have a high skill level and play with heart and determination.

Over the years, this team has gotten timid. There is no personality. Remember when they used to belt out the national anthem after a win? I haven’t seen that in years. Where’s Stefan Legein? Jordin Tootoo? Guys we can rally around?

We will also coach the team. She will be the first female behind the bench of a men’s/boys? world junior team.

In our minds, this is the only way to get Canada back on top of this tournament.

In all seriousness, we would probably be in way over our heads behind the bench. I have too much respect for coaches to say that what they do is easy.

However, we shall offer our services as scouts and members of the selection team for this tournament. At this point, I’m not sure Hockey Canada knows what they need.

As two avid fans and followers of this team and tournament, we have a good idea of what Canada needs in order to go for gold.

All this being said, the tournament is still young and I hope Canada can take home a medal and prove me wrong.

Until then, I shall remain pessimistic about the entire thing.

About Paul

I think of my blog as an all-you-can-read buffet. There's something for everyone and complimentary mints at the door as you leave.
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2 Responses to Going For Gold?

  1. markbialczak says:

    I endorse you and your friend for GM and coach next year, Paul. Canada needs a writer and a woman leading the world junior squad, for their passion and commitment to excellence. The hockey world will be taken by surprise.


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