Monday, December 12, 2005


WJC: Team Canada Survivor

Since the World Junior Championships are no real deal in any other country but Canada, we make up for the lack of international fanfare by treating this tournament like one of the biggest events of the year? Stanley Cup, World Cup, Olympics, and the WJC make up the Big 4 for Canadians. Trust me, the World Championships of hockey pale in comparison to the World Junior Championships.

As such, there is a great avalanche of hype that surrounds the tournament for the two weeks preceeding the tournament, and Team Canada gets 99.9% of the focus.

Take Day 1 of Training/Selection Camp reporting. A war in Iraq? How can that possibly compare to Angelo Esposito having to cut his long hair?

If any of the 34 players invited to the Canadian junior hockey team's selection camp were wondering what they have to do to make the team, scissors is one answer.

"For starters, some of them have to get haircuts," head coach Brent Sutter observed Sunday after the players reported to camp at Pacific Coliseum. "I like ears. I want them to look classy and look as a team."

They're in Sutter's army now.

"If he wants me to get a haircut, if that's what it takes to play on this team, then that's what I'll do," declared long-locked forward Angelo Esposito, who is the youngest player in camp at 16.

Hey Sutter, just ask Ryan Smyth is having long hair is a detriment to playing hockey? It looks like someone's been taking Dick Cheney's "Satisfy Your Childish Hunger for Power" self-help courses.

From now until the tournament, there will be no shortage of news on anything trivial such as players getting haircuts.

For the kids, however, this may be the first taste of real failure for some of them. Up until this tournament, the kids coming into this camp have always been the cream of their crop in their respective atom, midget, etcetera leagues and have probably never had to face the cruel reality of being cut for any team.

Now, any kid that is cut from Team Canada gets to face a large throng of mediots at 7am after the coach has told them, "Sorry kid, you didn't make the cut!"

If you get cut from any other junior team, you can slink home quietly and only your family members will laugh at you. If you get cut from Team Canada, you have do to your best to choke back tears while being expected to be a 'good loser' in front of cameras and reporters.

Or, you can be like Ramzi Abid and declare jihad on Team Canada for leaving you off the roster AGAIN (Too bad I lost the quote on my old computer). Since the kids trying out for this camp will probably have a shot with next year's team, don't expect any tirades for the fear of screwing their shot next year. Too bad, since I'd love to see a kid say what he really thinks of coach Sutter.

Selection Camp Rosters here.

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