Pick of the Day: World Junior Hockey Championship

Too bad the Czech and Slovak republics wouldn't consider reuniting, at least as far as participating in international hockey goes. Back in the days of the old Soviet Union Czechoslovakia was a formidable hockey power. Stan Mikita never played for the national team I don't think, but he was Czechoslovakian, as were the Stasnys.

Since separating in the 1992 the republics have enjoyed some success internationally. In '98, most notably, the Czechs rode the back of goaltender Dominik Hasek to Olympic gold. But this year at the World Juniors, neither republic made the playoffs. I'm writing this before the gold medal match up between the United States and Canada, obviously. But unless that game turns out to be a classic the tournament, overall, would have to be considered a bit of a bust from a competition perspective.

In marching to the gold medal game, Canada's only faced one real test. That was on New Year's Eve against the Americans where they trailed 4-2 in the third but came back to win 5-4 in a shootout. Switzerland's 3-2 overtime semi-final upset of the lacklustre Russians was also a great game. But outside of that, not too much excitement. If the Czechs and Slovaks joined forces, they'd have a better shot at winning. It's not likely to happen, of course. But it would make for a better tourney. Maybe Austria and Germany should join together too. And Switzerland could hook up with Norway. And Latvia, Belarus and Ukraine could team up with Italy -- okay, that would probably be expecting too much. It likely wouldn't threaten the existing hockey powers too much, but it would help prevent scores like 16-0.

Anyway, the gold medal game between Canada and the U.S. goes tonight on TSN at 7 p.m.


Heath said...

Stan Mikita did play for a national team in 1972. Team Canada.

Gregory Beatty said...

That's true Heath, although I wouldn't call the 1972 squad a national team. Bobby Hull and other high-profile players like Derek Sanderson, J.C. Tremblay, Gerry Cheevers and Gordie Howe had jumped to the WHA just before that, if you recall, and they were excluded from Team Canada. So it was more an NHL all-star team. For the record, Mikita was born in what was then Czeckoslovakia in 1940, and moved to Canada as a young boy