Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Recaputured Glory?

Serious puckheads are playing close attention to Canada-Russia Super Series that, in the beginning, was being compared to the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union.

Why is beyond me. The 1972 Summit Series was in response to Canada boycotting the Olympic hockey tournament in protest to the Soviet Sports machine where their "amateurs" were allowed to play in the games despite being full-time hockey players.

The original in 1972 was a nail-biting affair as Canada used NHLers and needed a third period comeback along with a last minute goal to win it. Canada needed the series to prove that it still produced the best hockey players in the world but that belief was clearly shattered despite winning the series.

However, this new one isn't nearly as close, and the three remaining games are just formal procedures. The Canadians have won the series and the only question left is can Russia win a game?

Now again, why Canada is trying to recapture the glory of 1972 in this fashion is beyond me. Since the end of the Soviet Union, Russia has only won two medals, (neither gold, not counting the gold medal for the 1992 CIS team) in Olympic play. The World Championships isn't a good barometer because the NHL playoffs are still going on and many teams ice shorthanded squads. But since 1993, Canada has 8 medals, four golds, while Russia has just 4 medals, only one gold in the World Champioships.

As for the Junior nature of the competition, the results are even more lopsided. Canada has 8 Junior Gold Medals and 14 overall while Russia has 3 golds and 12 overall. In the past twenty years, Canada has only been shut out of medals three times and one of those was due to a bench clearing brawl against the Soviets in the final game of the 1987 tournament. Had Canada kept their cool, they would have won at least a bronze medal and were on track for another gold in 1987.

Yes, Canada has faced off against Russia for the Junior Gold Medal 5 of the last 6 seasons, but Canada has won the last three in a row and only last year's was even remotely close.

The U.S. tried the same thing five years ago when they tapped Herb Brooks to coach the 2002 U.S. Olympic team, but they came up short in the gold medal game to Canada. But considering that this current exhibition has been nothing but a laugher, I'm curious as to what Canada thinks they are going to get out of this. Weren't they already going to be the favorites for the gold medal in the Czech Republic next year?


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