Monday, December 22, 2008

Surefire future stars? You betcha!

As we prepare to hang our collective self-worth on the shoulders of 20 teenagers, it’s worthwhile to try and put it in a little perspective. If that’s possible. As I wrote last week, no country puts more resources into its u-20 program, nor has more advantages at the tournaments. This event is set-up in every way to ensure a Canadian win and to make boatloads of coin for the IIHF, Hockey Canada and TSN.

But, that doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy it. Nor, does it make you some kind of thoughtless hoser flag waver for taking some pride in watching Canada succeed. We don’t celebrate excellence near enough in this country, so, although I can appreciate that there is going to be a lot of saccharine crap thrown around (you can’t spell hyperbole without hyper and TSN is really, really hyper about this tourney), I can’t help myself once the puck is dropped.

You won’t see any ironic cheering for Slovakia here. I’m Canuck through and through. I just wont cry myself to sleep in this group of teenage hockey players wins silver instead of gold.

In an effort to understand just what it is that we are watching, it’s useful to look back on some old World Junior rosters. If you do, you will realize that the top half of any Canadian team is going to contain some really good players that will become NHL all-stars. However, not everyone – no matter how much Pierre McGuire tells us otherwise -- is going to be household names in eight years time.

So, with that in mind, let’s have a look at that 2000 roster. The team captured the bronze, after losing to the Czech Republic in the semis. It was the dark days of Canadian international hockey, only two years removed from that unspeakable mess in Japan. Below the jump, your 2000 Team Canada:

Forwards (NHL totals)
  • Mark Bell (445 GP, 182 PTS, one jail term)
  • Tyler Bouck (91 GP, 12 PTS)
  • Eric Chouinard (90 GP, 22 PTS)
  • Dany Heatley (456 GP, 500 PTS)
  • Jamie Lundmark (235 GP, 73 PTS)
  • Manny Malhotra (585 GP, 168 PTS)
  • Matt Pettinger (364 GP, 106 PTS)
  • Mike Ribeiro (465 GP, 321 PTS)
  • Brad Richards (595 GP, 528 PTS)
  • Michael Ryder (347 GP, 231 PTS)
  • Jason Spezza (353 GP, 368 PTS)
  • Mathieu Biron (253 GP, 44 PTS)
  • Jay Bouwmeester (421 GP, 179 PTS)
  • Barret Jackman (342 GP, 84 PTS)
  • Matt Kinch (0 GP, 0 PTS)
  • Kyle Rossiter (11 GP, 1 PTS)
  • Joe Rullier (0 GP, 0 PTS)
  • Brian Finley (4 GP – retired)
  • Maxime Ouellet (12 GP)

You have two guys that are solid bets to make the Hall of Fame one day, one enigma that badly needs to be traded, eight solid third line/fifth defenseman type guys, five guys that primarily play in the AHL and two that never sniffed the NHL. Even the most liberal evaluation means that about half of a typical team is not going to have a significant NHL career (but that there will be some stars on display).

Enjoy the tournament for what it is – a solid entertainment option during the holidays – and don’t fall into the TSN-set trap of seeing it for more.

NOTES: That said, look for LIVE! Blogging coverage of Canada’s games here. We’re still working out some technical issues for the Boxing Day game, but all of the other games will be covered. We’ll let you know about Boxing Day by Christmas Eve.


DR said...

Good job by you, Duane. Even though most of the players on the Canadian team may never have a great or even good NHL career, the odds are even longer for the players on the U.S. and European teams. Yet the Canadian team is often described (usually on TSN) as the underdogs. Ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I really WANT to enjoy this tournament, but I can only imagine that getting excited about following Canada in the World Juniors is a bit like looking forward to watching the US "Dream Teams" (especially the early versions) in the Olympics. The "Drive for 5" is just not that compelling. Why couldn't we put 2 teams in this thing, make it a real tournament?

Anonymous said...

This years tournemant could be the best in years.There are 6 teams that could win the gold.

Czech Rep