To be sure, this is one of my favorite time of year. The holidays, family and friend visiting, and the World Junior Championship tournament. It is a great time to be a hockey fan, and a great time to scout tomorrow NHL stars.
The unfortunate thing to me though is the pressure on these young men. The United States has the pressure to prove that they can be the best, and that pressure largely come from the player themselves as hockey is not the biggest sport in America.
The Canadian team though, that is the other story. The pressure to win is on a national scale. Hockey is the national sport and all athlete are measured against the best hockey player.
Of course player want to win, no matter what country they from. It is the compete level built into all of them. It is one of the core component of being one of the world best. This is the natural thing.
The unnatural thing is the nationalistic pressure these two team can face from the fan, or from the governing body.
After all, the United States and Canada did not send all of the best players they could have sent to the tournament. Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel are both not playing. Would they have improved both team? Of course.
Some would say Canada do not consider seriously any player not playing Major Junior to make the team for the event. Is this true?
It is clear to me that the World Junior Tournament is not a tournament featuring the worlds best player, but it is the Tournament featuring the world best player that are available at the time, or the player who has played the politics correctly.
To me, the game between Canada and the United States was an alright game to watch. It was not a game of highlight reel play. Each team had its moment of dominance. So the United State win, so what. Canadian government did not collapse over night, and Wall Street did not triple in value. No one player draft stock rise over another, and no country in danger of closing it ice arenas down.
I watch the other country game as well. They entertaining in some regard. Clearly the United States and Canada have the most talent combine on each team. One game with two other country look no better than a mid level NAHL game I see a few week ago. In the end, who care?
It can not be forgotten that this tournament is about the young men play in it first, and country second. It is a coming of age event for many young men who have play the game since they could walk. It is for some the only opportunity they will have to play on the world stage while play for their country. It really is their moment.
Let us not forget it is a Tournament. It is not a season long competition. One bounce can send you home with a gold or silver and there is no next game. Relax, enjoy, and appreciate it for what it is.
Happy New Year