I had thought long and hard about making a scary prediction about the Canadian Jr. team this year before Boxing Day, when the tournament started.
What I wanted to say, but was afraid of the backlash was this:
Team Canada will not win this tournament
I don't know who will, my guess is the Russians or the Americans, but it won't be Team Canada.
Why is it that I say something this unpatriotic?
On the contrary, I say this because it is a wake up call that seems to have gone unheard or misunderstood during the 5 year drought since Canada last won this tournament.
We don't lose because the opponent defeats us, although that is true. We lose because we have defeated ourselves before we even step on the ice.
And we don't lose it for lack of talent. In fact, Canada is always without question, the deepest pool of talent at every position in this tournament. We have spent years developing these kids' abilities in a wealth of resources made possible by their parents, coaches and by living in Canada. We have no shortage of players, resources, facilities, equipment, or coaches and therefore should have no excuse NOT to win.
Yet, when the Juniors have lost, they have been outworked by other countries who are catching up on talent, and play a better team concept than we rely on as Canadians. In fact, we have an arrogance about us that says that just because we are Canadians, we are the favourite to win; that it really is our tournament to lose.
And in the past 5 years, we've proven that to be true.
We have found ways to lose in each and every year and its been pathetic.
This year, it just looks like the Juniors think that they can win on talent alone. They are simply not working hard, and they are expecting to roll over their opponent, or come from behind and rally. Only to fall short...
We've seen flashes of brilliance of Team Canada being down and coming back from behind many years. When Team Canada is behind the 8 Ball, that's when we really see how these young kids can truly play. Only faced with losing, do they come out hungry and leave it all on the rink.
Yet, they never come out like that to play the first period, and then keep it going for a full 60 minutes.
To me, it's not the kids fault. These kids are taught this arrogance and its learned. Its the job of the coaches, parents, organizations, or systems to make sure that they are focused on the right thing. It seems to me, that these kids think they can win on talent alone
Canada is deep enough to field 2 teams and play each other in the finals. Yet we lose because we have not learned the lesson to play on bigger ice, and play like we are underdogs instead of the arrogance that the game is ours to lose.
Because we've been proving to the world that we've been pretty good at proving them right, and that as a team, you never have enough talent to win on talent alone...