Saturday, December 24, 2011

Scouting the World Junior Championships

While the NHL enjoys a holiday break over the weekend, hockey fans will be gearing up for the traditional Boxing Day start of the World Junior Championships. Ten of the world's top hockey nations will convene in Calgary and Edmonton for a two-week tournament to determine which country's teenagers will bring home the gold.

Let's take a look at the teams competing for medals in this year's tournament.

The good: Have spent the last few days paying inspirational visits to the less fortunate, such as children's hospitals and also the prison camp where last year's silver medal team is kept.
The bad: Are expected to make it through at least one playoff round, and it will probably get annoying having to constantly explain to Alberta hockey fans how that works.

The good: Every American kid on the roster has been dreaming of winning this tournament ever since the moment they realized they weren't good enough to play football, basketball or baseball.
The bad: Dominant goaltender Jack Campbell returns for the third straight year, and you have to think one of these years somebody's going to take a closer look at that fake ID.

Czech Republic
The good: Scouts agree that top player Martin Frk looks just like an NHL superstar, in the sense that he won't be playing because of a concussion.
The bad: For reasons nobody can quite figure out, have spent the weeks leading up to the tournament arguing over whether their coach should have to be able to speak French.

The good: Have been working on implementing a 1-3-1 defensive system to use when the score is tied, so that takes care of the game's first shift.
The bad: Are in a group with Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland and the United States, so they didn't have to spend any extra money on cancellation insurance for those flights homes immediately after the preliminary round.

The good: Should be in good shape if a playoff spot comes down to the tie-breaker, which for some reason this year is "most umlauts".
The bad: Star player Mikael Granlund's mother never lets him play in major international tournaments unless he lets his kid brother Markus tag along with him.

The good: Have assured their fans that there's no chance of a repeat of their humiliating 16-0 loss to Canada in Saskatoon in 2010, since there aren't any games in Saskatoon this year.
The bad: Despite much pleading, Arturs Irbe still refuses to let them borrow the country's only set of goalie equipment.

The good: The country has been producing much better goaltenders ever since the 2003 debut of their "Hey, maybe don't head butt the winning goal into your own net" training program.
The bad: While choosing a final roster early to allow the players time to gel is often a worthwhile strategy, in hindsight 1996 may have been a little too soon.

The good: Clever headline writers won't have any trouble figuring out which type of cheese to compare their defensive coverage to.
The bad: Are traditionally considered a dark horse in the tournament, in the sense that dark horses are terrible at playing hockey.

The good: Team officials say that the players and coaches don't know the meaning of the word "defeat", which is awesome, because it means that after a few games of the preliminary round everyone will have learned a new word.
The bad: The team's chances suffered a major blow when Zdeno Chara's 6'5" 240-pound oldest child was disqualified from the competition on the technicality that she's two years old.

The good: Following in tradition, the team arranged for a pre-tournament pep talk from one of the country's biggest current NHL stars.
The bad: Based on the way the entire team has spent hours just staring out the window into the night sky while mumbling "whoa", Ilya Bryzgalov may not have been the best choice.


  1. Prison camp and Bryzgalov. Awesome!

  2. Best one in months. Laughed real hard at a handful. Great as always DGB!

  3. Yes. Bryzgalov and the prison camp was awesome.

  4. Best one in months as already mentioned.
    The Slovakia and esp. the Bryzgalov funnies was humongously hilarious.

  5. Hahahah I loved the chara bit, keep it up!

  6. "whoa" Awesome *stares at the sky*

  7. Bryz isn't on drugs. HE IS DRUGS.

  8. Read this in the Globe and Mail on the flight up to the NWT this morning - thanks for brightening up my 6AM!

  9. Loved the Bryz joke!

  10. DGB, you do realize that Irbe's equipment is older than the players for Latvia, right? I'm not sure it is street legal, and it only fits someone his size, so Zdeno's 2 year is too big for the pads. Then again, Martin St. Louis is, as well.

    Bonne chance pour les coach Americaine pour les rouge, bleu, et blanc.

  11. The Bryz joke is gold to anyone who has been watching 24/7. The Russian team should also not kill tigers.

  12. The Bryzgalov joke sucks, the guy is weirding it up for TV, how funny! The prison camp and especially the Irbe joke, however, are gold.

  13. This has to be the best of the year. I literally laughed at the Zdeno Chara and Bryzgalov jokes. The Team Canada jokes were also hilarious. :-)

  14. AB joke was weak. Otherwise nice.