Monday, December 27, 2004

Canadians dump favored Davos

Wow. At a time when hockey pundits were predicting an early exit for Canada at the Spengler Cup, the Canadian team has pulled off two impressive victories, including one today over a Davos club loaded with NHL stars (Joe Thornton, Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis). Canadian netminder and Vancouver Canuck Alex Auld looked fantastic in stopping all three in a shootout to take the game.

Make no mistake — if there was NHL hockey right now, no one would be watching this tournament (aside from freaks like myself). And it's really a shame, because the players love playing in it and the games are very entertaining. When I talked to ex-NHLer Doug Lidster this summer for a THN backchecking piece, he said playing in the Spengler was one of his fondest memories.

On a personal level, I'm also following the Spengler for another reason. Ajay Baines, who went to the same grade school and high school as me, is playing for Canada this time around. Baines is taking some time out from his duties as captain of the AHL's Norfolk Admirals to play for his former junior coach Marc Habscheid. If anyone needed a one word description for the guy, it'd be class. Here's a guy who went undrafted but has worked himself into a spot deserving of a stint in the NHL.


At 1:48 a.m., December 31, 2004, Blogger Sea Otter said...

Your man Ajay's team really got screwed today. Sparta Prague sat out five players and basically laid down so that Canada didn't advance to the final. Pretty low rent, and a bit of a slap in the face given all that Hockey Canada contributes to the IIHF. It also shows you the inherent problem with round-robin formats, as you inevitably get situations that lend themselves to teams rolling over, running up scores, etc. Bracket style tournaments eliminate this.

Regardless, Canadians should be proud of the effort these guys put forward, and the strong result they got at 3 wins and only one loss. It bodes well for Torino '06, where we almost certainly won't be using NHLers...


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