Looking toward the WJC
GlobeSports.com's Eric Duhatschek has an excellent preview of the world junior hockey championship up today online, which includes an interview with new Team Canada coach Craig Hartsburg and an idea of what to expect from the hometown crowd:
This time around, the tournament is being contested in Leksand, Sweden and the differences don't just begin and end with the international-sized ice surface. Normally, when the world junior championship is played in Europe, it is greeted by largely indifferent response. The one exception might be in the opener on Dec. 26 against the host Swedes, but otherwise, Hartsburg has to prepare his team to play meaningful, emotional games sometimes in virtually empty arenas. More people probably dropped by to see the team's intra-squad scrimmages this week at Father David Bauer than will be in the seats to watch them play any game not featuring the home club.Sweden may not be excited, but I know I am. It's just too bad not every country gets behind this event — and the games played between non-home country clubs — the way Vancouver, Kamloops and Kelowna did last year.
The fact that a Latvia-Russia junior game in smalltown B.C. draws 5,000+ speaks volumes to the hockey-mania there.
UPDATE 16-year-old phenom John Tavares was one of 11 players cut from Canada's squad today by Hartsburgh.
UPDATE One thing I'm thankful for? The games are all in the mornings and afternoons this year, which means I'll be able to tune into every last one. The gold-medal game goes Friday, Jan. 5, at 1:30 p.m. — so book the day off work if you can.