Friday, December 23, 2016

The IIHF World Juniors Have lost it's Flare

Around this time of year, Team Canada is making their final selections for the annual IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships played between December 25th and January 5th every year. 
The tournament hosts many of NHL's future superstars that will alter NHL Mock Drafts from various hockey experts and scouts as they prepare for the 2017 NHL draft in June. 
It has became a Canadian Tradition as Hockey Canada assembles the best roster they can as they know that anything but a Gold Medal for Canada will be unacceptable especially on home ice where they came away with Gold last time the tournament was held in Canada in 2014. 
The last decade has been Canada's gold mind as many current elite NHLers are playing major roles in various teams right now. From 2005-2009 Canada won gold every year. In fact, from 2004-2011 the Canadian U20 team went on a unheard of run that saw them go 52 Wins 2 losses 3 overtime losses and 1 tie. To make things even more remarkable, Canada's two regulation losses were blown third period leads. 
Canada has came back down to earth in recent years only winning one gold medal since 2009. What has also changed is the anticipation for the tournament. Despite stars still playing for Canada like Connor McDavid in 2015 and Jonathan Drouin in 2014. 
The tournament has became old news the last few years, the question used to be, how awesome will Canada be this year to now a scouting tournament to see which player they want their respective team to have in the upcoming draft. 
In the past, Canada's team usually has a handful of drafted CHL players that were sent back to Junior because they weren't strong enough. However, in the new era of hockey where having speed is a valuable asset, players under 20 have been making NHL rosters quite frequently and therefore don't play in the World Juniors that year. 
This has resulted in a lesser talent pool every year and therefore, has made the rest of the teams catch up to Canada in hockey talent.  For instance, all the U20 players that are holding spots in the NHL are hurting the World Junior talent and making the tournament have way less quality. 
This could be why the anticipation is down. Unless, you follow CHL hockey, none of the 2017 draft eligible players are household names yet which is a major problem when trying to achieve high TV ratings. 
Nevertheless, TSN will still advertise the hec out of it, as they this is their high point to their hockey coverage with no NHL coverage to atleast 2026. They will cover the tournament wall to wall as they bring you the coverage from Toronto and Montreal. 
To tell you the truth though, the tournament has been missing something the last few years and sadly, I'm not sure it will ever be the same. 

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