By Rob Ficiur
This article was submitted before the World Cup of Hockey final began.No doubt there will be memories from this week’s championship round. However, week #1 of the World Cup of Hockey inspired more September hockey memories and moments than we have had since the last World Cup of Hockey in 2004.
1. Sidney Crosby had won 22 straight games playing for Canada since 2010. He was unaware of that and put the meaningless stat in perspective. If Canada didn’t beat Russia on Saturday who cares? Crosby scored the first goal on a pesky fore-checking play. Now that he has won 23 games in a row, his reaction will still be the same, it does not matter unless Canada wins two more (and thus the 2016 World Cup of Hockey).
2. Many have criticized the NHL for introducing two so called Gimmick Teams in this tournament. Is it a gimmick? Both teams won two games in a three-game round robin. That is better than Finland and the USA that lost all three games. The Young Stars did well. Fans were entertained. Young stars got prominent roles on their team and showed their talent. That is a win for the sport. Team Europe made the finals of the tournament (and who knows what will happen there)…
3. The night the United States was eliminated from the tournament Phil Kessel tweeted, “Just sitting around the house tonight w/my dog. Felt like I should be doing something important, but couldn’t put my finger on it.” He was directly complaining about his not being chosen to be part of the American team at the World Cup. When a team loses all three of its games criticism is to be expected. A few days later in Penguins training camp Kessel said he didn’t want to talk about his tweet or the World Cup. In our world of social media you can’t have it both ways. If you bring up a topic then you open it up for people to ask you about it.
4. I predicted USA would win. No one could have predicted they would lose all three games in a three-game tournament. American GM Dean Lombardi said no one will be harder on him than he is on himself. Why did he pick these players and leave out these players? Sorry to USA fans, when I predict a victory, it is a virtual guarantee of a non-victory.
To be fair, Canadian fans are just as hard on losing teams. In 2002 General Manager Wayne Gretzky was a genius when he put together a team that won Olympic Gold. Four years later, the same Gretzky was mocked for putting together an Olympic team that finished sixth.
5. The Russians lost again. They won their only best on best tournament 35 years ago. Back then we thought they were a world power. Now with only one win in thirteen best on best tournaments they are a rather average hockey nation. They have a few elite forwards but not a full team of stars.
6. In the World Cup of hockey they have added a new camera angle. The Ref cam allows fans to see what the ref (or at least his helmet) sees. It is a different angle. Look forward to seeing more new things as this technology develops.
7. In the end, Canada will only remember this tournament if we win it all. No one talks about the 1981 Canada Cup. Canada was 4-0-1; undefeated in the tournament. When “we” lost in the final 8-1 all I did was delete the memory of the entire tournament from my mind. Sportsnet.ca had an article about Canada’s double overtime win in the semifinal against Sweden. We forget that game because Canada lost the final two games to one to the USA. The days ahead will determine if we have something else to cheer about or if we chose to forget this September tournament.