So, have you gotten over the game yet?

You know the game I’m talking about. Canada v. Russia, World Junior Hockey Championships gold medal game. Canada up 3-0 after two periods, end up losing 5-3.

Yes, that game.

I have. Hell, I got over it within a minute or two of turning off the TV after Canada’s epic collapse Wednesday. I didn’t watch the Russians celebrate, of course, and I didn’t watch Canada’s boys/men with tears in their eyes. But I got over it, and so should everyone else.

According to the Globe and Mail, the game delivered “a stunning blow to the Canadian psyche” and was “a kick in the teeth for an entire nation.”

Oh my.

Sorry, Globe and Mail, but my psyche remains intact, and my teeth remain firmly lodged in my head. Yes, it was dispiriting, but losing a three goal lead is not unheard of in hockey. Sure, it angried up the blood a bit, but was it “unbelievable, surreal, bizarre, other-worldly”, as Globe hockey writer David Shoalts put it?

No, it wasn’t.

The greater the hype over the world juniors becomes, the less interested in it I become. It’s a strangely Canadian phenomenon, this tournament. Pretty much of a nothing event for most of its existence, the tournament owes its off-the-charts popularity today to saturation coverage on TSN, and the fact it fills the post-Christmas dead zone. A lot of people are at home with nothing to do or watch post-Christmas, and an international hockey tournament fills the empty hours.

Oh, it’s good hockey, when the teams are evenly matched. Pit any of the hockey powers against each other — Canada, Russian, the US, Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic — and you’re likely to have a whiz-bang game. When you throw in the lesser powers — your Swiss, your Norwegians, your Germans — the result is more of what you’d expect if Canada played any of these countries in soccer. No fun for anybody.

I might be more interested in the world juniors if the whole hockey world was as enraptured with it as we are. But Canada seems to be the only country that cares – really, REALLY cares – about the tournament. The rest of the hockey world loves the world championship, which we barely pay notice to. I guess it has something to do with our chances of winning, which is always great at the juniors, a bit of a crapshoot at the world’s.

Frankly, I think we put a bit too much stress on these young guys to defend Canada’s hockey honour every year. I mean, I’m glad they made the gold medal game, and I would like them to have won, but c’mon, Canada. Lighten up. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Weird things happen in one game.

I’m sure our “battered psyche” will be healed in time for next year’s frenzy, when the tournament comes here. In the meantime, the junior hockey heroes go back to riding the buses to Medicine Hat and Moose Jaw, in front of a couple of thousand fans.


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