Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday hockey hooray!

So, yeah. 8-1. Eh.

Look, it's a bit pointless to belabor this point too much, but, tell me, who didn't turn off yesterday's World Junior game at about 5-0? It's got to be a bit disconcerting to TSN. There is only so much you can do to fake the drama and, on the street anyway, I just don't sense the same sort of interest or passion around this tournament as there was even a few years ago.

At Christmas dinner my brother-in-law, who used to have a Boxing Day party at his house to watch the first World Juniors game, talked to me about Aston Villa. The little hockey tournament in Ottawa was not mentioned once. An isolated anecdote, sure, but...

I mean, Canada was playing Czech Republic on Friday. The Czechs have had some success at the whole shiny thing. It's not as if Kazakhstan was the opponent. No, that's tomorrow.

And it likely won't be pretty.

I wonder at what point patriotism isn't enough? I fly the flag as high as anyone, but, man .. . Kazakhstan?

Speaking of patriotism and isolated anecdotes, I was riding the treadmill today at GoodLife beside the world's biggest Spengler Cup fan -- or so it would seem, anyway. When Canada scored to tie the game late in the third today he started screaming and flailing his hands at the machine. I damn near fell off mine in reaction to him (which would have at least meant that I could have stopped running -- man, that first workout after Christmas...).

I enjoy watching the Spengler Cup. The dirty little secret is that it's much better hockey than the World Juniors. I can't say that I've ever been known to scream out at a goal. It's a club tournament with a fake Canadian team. It's hard to wrap yourself in the flag when you realize that Team Canada is playing against a team that has Alexandre Daigle on it.

But, anyway, it got me thinking. Since it is a club tournament it really should be limited to only club teams. But, with the NHL desperate (not that they would admit it) for new revenue, it wouldn't be the worse thing to put an actual NHL team into the event. Yes, I know, it would be challenging. Maybe the Christmas break would have to be extended (not the worse thing anyway), but it would represent a half step into the European market.

HC Davos vs. the Detroit Red Wings. In a Swiss rink full of nutty Euro fans. It would be compelling.

You can hear the puckheads' minds snapping shut. If it hasn't been done since 1917 in hockey, it can't ever be done.

Not that I'm a bitter frustrated crank when it comes to the world of hockey though...

NOTES: We're going to try and LIVE! blog the World Juniors game tomorrow. I'll have the thread set up 20 minutes before puck drop. Drop by and join us. We'll try and make it more entertaining than the game.


Anonymous said...

Predictable outcomes are the worst possible thing for an event such as this (or any sport). It crushes interest and attendance.

The entire WJC is a TSN creation that I think has maxed out. I always laugh when it is in other countries and the stands are empty...nobody outside of Canada cares AT ALL about the tourney.

I enjoy it, but always try to remember that we're the only people that really care about the outcome.

Anonymous said...

Sad, but true. No one outside of Canada and the actual European teams care about the WC.
Some one of Czech origin told me that we should not be surprised. It was his contention that Europeans don't attend junior anything. They save their interest and their Euros for senior and pro level sport, for all sports. If true the WJHC will never be a big draw there.

Anonymous said...

Boring tournament, haven't watched in years, should split Canada into 2 or 3 teams or some sort of club format, in fact, rather watch the's competitive.

Dennis Prouse said...

I love this tournament, but no doubt it is badly overhyped now. It is basically a CHL all-star game, yet they are charging NHL prices for tickets. This makes no sense when you realize that many of the players out there will never see an NHL game. Even a good chunk of the Canadian kids will never have a significant NHL career. The Spengler Cup is clearly better hockey.

Like any overhyped stock, a market correction is inevitable. I think you are seeing that correction happening right now. Ticket scalpers are getting absolutely murdered at this event.

For the opener against the Czechs, those $120 tickets in the lower bowl were going for about $40 - $50 out front of Scotiabank Place. One would imagine that for today and tomorrow, those prices will crash even lower. Just check Kijiji and UsedOttawa dot com, and you will see all kinds of increasingly desperate people looking to unload their tickets.

I get the sense that a lot of people bought the package when it first came out, figuring that they could simply flip them for a profit at tournament time. Now they realize they are stuck with them. I have received no fewer than four unsolicited e-mails from friends looking to dump, err, I mean sell tickets.

For the non-Canada games, people can't give the tickets away. The biggest laugh on Boxing Day was when they announced attendance at 18,600 for the U.S. - Germany game, when in reality there were perhaps 8,000 people in the stands. The organizers are in the clear, as they have sold pretty much all the tickets, but it will be interesting to see what this does to the ticket pricing for future tournaments.

Anonymous said...

I would have gone to a lot of games, but the pricing is ridiculous.
The event is treated by organizers as if it is a major NCAA bowl game, which, of course, it is not.
Look forward to seeing many more of these events held in Canada, because the IIHF, no fools they, realize what a cash cow this tournament is in Canada.
And that fellow who called this tournament boring....I sentence you to watch every remaining Senator game this season with eyes pried open, ala Clockwork Orange.
Not only would that be boring, but excruciating as well.

Anonymous said...

Hard to watch ANY hockey anymore, it's so overhyped, overcovered, overanalyzed (and overpriced) in this country. But "World Junior" is like a bad made-for-TV movie, and we know the outcome.....