Sunday, January 06, 2008

Canada returns with its gold and home ice advantage

While the Canadian teens were given their heroes reception at Pearson Airport in Toronto today, Hockey Canada was busy reviewing their plans for the World Junior Championships for three out of the next four years.

As seems obvious to most of us by now, it appears that the only country that really gets behind the World Junior game is Canada, the empty seats of Pardubice served as a testimony to some serious apathy from the Europeans when it comes to U20 hockey.

Now this may all seem like heresy to this puck loving nation we call home, but the proof is in the seats. This recent tournament featured nothing but the emptiest of rinks for almost all of the games that didn't involve the host Czech Republic squad. Even the Gold medal game with all its build up, drama and importance couldn't bring in the locals, every Canadian game featured far more Canadians in the rink than any other nation.

A travelling (and apparently well funded) band of well wishers who have flag and will carry wherever necessary.

During the Pardibuce tournament the IIHF was forced to look to Canada to take over the 2010 event after Switzerland decided that they had better things to do over the week between Christmas and New Years.

Canada which is already set to host the 2009 tourney in Ottawa (already a near sell out and a money making machine set to be put in motion) will now ask for the bids from other Canadian posts looking to host the world in 2010 (we suspect that Vancouver will be a tad busy that year however). Hockey Canada hopes to have their short list in hand by June and then begin the process of placing the tournament in yet another hockey mad location somewhere above that 49th parallel.

The tourney then will take a gamble on the USA finding a hockey mad market to host the 2011 event, with Minnesota and Buffalo apparently the early favourites to look to play host.
Then it's back to the True North Strong and Willing in 2012, by which time if Team Canada cooperates over the next few years, the cry of eightpeat will be heard from some sold out arena.

It's probably all for the best for the IIHF, which must take some serious money out of Canada for the broadcast and marketing rights to their tournament. Having a solid ticket base is probably something that wouldn't hurt either.

While we like to say that hockey is our game, it's also getting to the point where we can say that the World Junior Tournament is our tournament, in more than just on ice success...

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