Monday, January 08, 2007

They Can Win A Gold Medal, But They Can't Even Buy Themselves The Champagne To Celebrate

Uh oh, it turns out we here at 64 Years and Counting are very, very bad Canadians. First, we spoke out against the prospect of a seventh Canadian hockey team joining the NHL (which, as transgressions go, would seem to be on par with a Catholic spitting on an image of the Virgin Mary). And now we have the gall to go and watch about 48 seconds of Canada's entire (and very successful) run at the World Junior Championship in Sweden.

That's grounds for revoking citizenship, if we're not mistaken.

An E12 back-page insert in most other places in the hockey playing world, the Juniors are front page news in Canada, for better or worse. We don't understand the thrill of watching twenty kids you've never heard of who still have trouble growing facial hair, let alone scoring highlight reel goals, but apparently there must be something to it, as millions of people tune in for each of Canada's games every time.

It's become a holiday "tradition", if you'll believe TSN, but the numbers don't lie. And neither does the press coverage. A lot of people seem to give a damn about this, but still, we don't get it.

Sure, maybe some of those kids will end up as future stars (that Toews kid, for example) but really, if past junior teams have taught us anything, most of those kids will end up as blue chip grunts, not marquee names.

The patriotic thrill of watching a red maple leaf dash up the ice? Now were on to something. Nothing gets people watching like a winner, and our junior teams have a funny habit of doing just that. This was our third straight actually. Woah, we don't even watch the damn thing, and we're bragging already. That's some powerful mojo.

Seriously though, we object to the Junior championships on the same grounds we object to college sports. You're putting kids on freaking pedestals and it's not right. These guys aren't ready for media scrutiny; most of them are still in school (or, old enough to be...). And these guys can't even profit off their exploits. That's quite the system. Doesn't apply so much to the the Junior tourney mind you, they wouldn't be getting paid no matter how old they were, but it really bothers us about American collegiate sports. All the media attention, all the money that rolls into it, and the players can't touch a penny of it.

But that has nothing to do with Junior Hockey. Back on topic.

It doesn't help that the Leafs farm system is always so woefully underrepresented at this thing. Excepting last year, when the gold medal game featured Leaf prospects in both nets, there never seems to be much, or any, Leaf presence. It gets a little depressing, actually.

Maybe we'll get into when we ourselves are a little older, and by a little older, we mean old enough to be able to look at the roster and not be able to say, "Hey, those guys were born the same year as I was!"

No really, true story.


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