A final word on the 'Super' Series
Well, that was fun, wasn't it?
An eight-game series, an eight-game pounding, more or less. The Canadian juniors marked the 35th anniversary of what is considered to be one of the top international hockey competitions of all time with a major dud, a tournament that was essentially over before it started given the two sides lining up against one another.
You know, I already weighed in on the event beforehand from a Canadian player perspective, pointing out just how much more ridiculousness is added to an already ridiculous schedule by having this group of elite talents carted off to places like Ufa and Red Deer to provide content to air around the Nike Summer Shift commercial. But the group you really feel for after a beat down that saw the Russians outscored 39-13 is those players who have to head back to a system that's going to be ripped in the press and by that country's hockey minds.
It's no secret that this group of under 20s represent a down year for Russia, but we're not talking about a minor imbalance among the hockey powers. This was a thrashing, and the results won't be pretty:
"Our hockey players do not have the training, there is no character, there is no understanding of the demands of playing today's hockey," Russian sports minister Slava Fetisov said.Who knows what the "solution" will be, but here's hoping it's not something resembling the hockey factory that saw kids like Alex Mogilny and others shipped to Moscow under the Soviet system and trained in sport schools.
"Our hockey has lost its identity. It is possible to define easily the Finnish, Swedish, Czech style, also Canadian and Americans. And ours — faceless."
I give Fetisov credit for continuing to fight for and represent his country, despite the fact he escaped to make a living in the NHL late in his career, but even now he's still fighting the old minds that believe his departure began the talent exodus. There are also an incredible number of social and political challenges still facing Russia, nevermind what is happening in sport, and it's far from my place to say whether that's what's led to the shrivelling of the hockey pipeline from that country.
What I do know is that no future strategy should rely too heavily on the results of this series, which was far from super and utterly forgettable.
Hopefully this means juniors can enjoy their summers from now on. Aside from all that running, I mean.