What is this nonsense?
Canada is preparing for the World Junior Hockey Championships as the selection camp is under way, but their supposed top-nation stars aren’t participating.
The St. Louis Blues and the Edmonton Oilers have came out and stated that David Perron and Sam Gagner will not be released to Team Canada. Also, the captain of the Canadian squad that faced Russia, Milan Lucic, will not be competing in this upcoming tournament. That’s three major stars, who won’t be playing for Canada, leaving somewhat of a big hole on the offensive roster.
That is absurd.
For many of these kids, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to play for their country, especially with the rumours of the NHL withdrawing from the Olympics after 2010. This tournament is an annual classic, every year memories are made and dreams come true.
Okay, sure. I understand where the NHL teams are coming from. The players are too “crucial” for their own team’s success and it would be detrimental if they were gone for two weeks to play in the tournament of their life. How selfish can teams be? Not only will the WJHC be beneficial to their players, it will also teach them leadership skills and important-games experience.
In the long run, allowing these players to play for Canada is the best decision.
Take the Oilers for example, I’m sure Gagner will learn more in those two weeks winning, then he will the whole season losing in Edmonton.
Also, players such as last year’s hero Jonathan Toews (Chicago), Jordan Staal (Pittsburgh), and James Sheppard (Minnesota) are eligible to play for this year’s team. That’s more firepower to an already dominant team. Oh wait, they also won’t be playing for Canada.
Yes, the depth in this nation is enough to still produce a strong team, but if Canada is competing against the best from other countries, they should put out their best as well. And for that too happen, a few NHL teams need to sacrifice one or two young player from their roster for two weeks. I don’t think that is asking a lot.
The same goes for Team USA. They will not have the service of Erik Johnson, Patrick Kane, and Peter Mueller. Imagine an American squad with those three players on it, the talent level will surely sky-rocket.
Junior Hockey fans want to see the best product put forth on the ice and they are being denied. Of course, both these teams are probably the favourites to win the championship and can still give out an entertaining showing, but it’s a wasted opportunity for the young superstars missing out.
Maybe if the tournament was in North America, the decisions would have been different, but the NHL teams are still refusing to accommodate. It’s a damn shame knowing that fans might never be able to see a Turris-Tavares-Perron line again, or a Gagner-Marchand-Giroux combo.
The NHL is heading in the wrong direction when it comes to international contributions, and this world junior championship is beginning to show. Next up will be the official pull-out from the 2014 winter games, great.
Not the brightest decisions, especially if they want to sell the game more overseas.