The 2010 version of “The Greatest Sporting Event of the Christmas Holidays” (AKA “The Greatest Sporting Event Only Canada Cares About”) has come and gone. And Canada is still the greatest hockey country on the planet, thank you very much. But, uh, those Americans sure can skate...
Full marks to everybody involved in the WJHC, from the host cities, to the fans, to Hockey Canada, to TSN, which broadcasts every meaningful game. They treat it like it’s the greatest sporting event on the planet. And for about a week and a half it is; but only in Canada.
I have a buddy who lives in Metropolitan Detroit, Michigan. It’s across the Detroit River from Windsor, Ontario, for the geographically challenged readers among us. My buddy’s son plays for one of the Detroit AAA hockey programs. Of the 19 players on the hockey team, only three families subscribed to the NHL Network on their cable television package. The other 16 families don’t get NHL Network.
These are rabid hockey fans we're talking about, and they were unable to watch any of the terrific WJHC games this year. It’s not only a shame, but a lost opportunity to market the greatest game in the world to the United States. For Europeans, who would be tuning into the opening faceoff at, say, 2 a.m. in Stockholm, the WJHC is pretty much off their radar as well.
The top story on the USA Today Sports page today? Randy Johnson retires. It's the middle of winter and baseball is the top story. No mention of the World Junior score on the Sports page, although if you dig deeper there is a blurb on the “NHL” page. I didn’t check the major paper in Helsinki (the Helsinki Sun?) but I am guessing last night’s big game wasn’t one of the headlines.
We proudly thump our chests when we win this thing and we should, especially when Canada strings together 5 wins in a row (which we seem to do every six years or so). But just as we shouldn’t get too high when we win the gold, we shouldn’t get too down with winning the silver.
After all, we're still the best, and quite frankly, nobody but us even noticed that we had a good little winning streak going.