Once a small tournament considered a diversion during the Christmas and New Year's holidays, the World Junior Championship has become an obsession in hockey-obsessed Canada.
According to the National Post newspaper, nearly a half-million people tuned in to TSN to watch an exhibition between Canada and Russia last week. Nine of the top 15 specialty TV programs TSN has aired are World Junior Championship games, and 6.1 million people tuned in to see Russia beat Canada for the gold medal in the 2011 tournament at Buffalo.
This year's tournament began Friday, on the Boxing Day holiday. Games will be played at Montreal's
Whether the tournament has boomed because of good timing or smart promotion by TSN, there's no denying the appeal of watching future stars emerge on the world stage. Thanks to the
"World juniors is huge in Canada," said Kings defenseman
Canada's roster featured other future impact players: Kings forward
"It's amazing to look back and see the different players and how well everyone has done so far in their careers," Richards said. "It's one of the highlights of my career. I had so much fun at that tournament with those guys."
Although the fan interest can exert stifling pressure on these teenagers, Richards said his experience was purely positive. "The expectation is to win, and you definitely learn how to win," he said. "When you have that much pressure on you, I think you learn to deal with it early."
He's not the only member of the Kings who's keeping up with this year's tournament. Carter and Slovakian winger
"Even though you're 10, 11 years gone from it, you're still Canadian," Richards said. "I grew up watching that tournament. I remember waking up with my dad and my brothers at 4 or 5 a.m. when it was overseas to watch the tournament, so I think it's in your bloodline that you want them to win and have success."
New trend: GMs behind bench
Last week, New Jersey's
Lamoriello followed the example of Edmonton's Craig MacTavish, who fired Dallas Eakins on Dec. 15 and appointed himself co-coach until minor league coach Todd Nelson could get acclimated to the NHL and the mess MacTavish helped make of the
Lamoriello put on a slightly different spin, delegating Oates to oversee the forwards and Stevens to oversee the defense. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the
If they're honest and not merely protecting their jobs, MacTavish and Lamoriello should see how badly their teams are structured. The Devils' defense is too young and their forwards are too old; losing
Neither move is likely to accomplish much beyond keeping Lamoriello and MacTavish employed past their shelf life.
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