Remember last year? I sure do. Nothing rankles hockey debate than good old nationalism at its finest. The Olympics was one thing in February where a linesman’s skate decided the Gold but give Canada credit, they were opportune and played to win. However, the World Junior Hockey Championships is Canada’s baby. Then it was snatched last year by those pesky little Americans.
Slowly but surely, Team USA has garnered some serious respect with their development program. In my humble opinion, it not only rivals Team Canada’s but may just actually be better. The proof is in the pudding. Look at some of the results from the U-17’s and U-18’s in the last couple years, you may be surprised to see that the Americans are winning in bunches. If you look up and down the current U-20 roster, the homegrown developmental program has more than yielded fruit, it has exploded a new debate for the masses to enjoy.
What team is better talent wise? Oh this is a fun one and probably plays to party lines much like those debates you see on C-Span. We are not hear to go up and down the rosters and break down precisely who is the more awesome squad. The nationalism flows freely on both sides and all that is needed is a slight match to create fireworks.
Just think we have not even seen the two countries match up yet and already there are fierce debates going on. Battle lines are forged all over Twitter like a bare knuckles street fight that has no end in sight.
The Kassian hit yesterday followed by the Slovakian goon squad hits on two Americans again has ignited the powderkeg. Canadian fans are crying foul over what amounts to a two game ban for their player while Americans what swift justice for what could be called at the very least some head hunting by the Slovakian team.
The reality is Kassian was likely suspended on reputation and not on merit necessarily. Look at the many comments on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc. and one can clearly see that the opinions almost follow USA and Canada lines. This was not a head shot in the classic sense and yes it was a half second late or so but not suspension worthy. It really is as if, the injury caused the suspension and that is not what it is supposed to be about. Players have to be aware on the ice. The head really has to be on a swivel.
Let’s quote some YouTube debate here and maybe some twitter too……
The honest truth is the game suspension was adequate and there was no need for two. Debating whether the hit itself should have been a five in the first place is another question entirely. I highly respect the opinions of James Mirtle and many others from Canada who have debated this aspect. Respectfully, I will have to disagree here. I have seen the tweets on how clean a hit it was and while I do agree it was only a hair late, the bottom line is it was late and noticeable without replay. When a play is not noticeable without replay then it is in more of a grey area.
When you play the sport, simply counting 1001, 1002, etc is not the end all. One has to take a look at all aspects of the play in question to get the best informed opinion to be formulated. Even there the possibility exists that something may be missed. For example, I swore Kassian had left his feet some because at full speed, something did appear amiss. However and this was clear, Kassian did not leave his feet and the Czech player did have the head slouched. I do understand people that want to take the head shot out of the game completely but these players are moving at speeds that can be considered lethal.
The message becomes more about equipment at this point and then of course there was the outrage from the Team USA 6-1 win over Slovakia last night. The game turned on two hits from Slovakian players that looked more like Cold War leftovers than anything else.
The hit on Jason Zucker was probably worse than the hit on Jerry D’Amigo though some would debate that. Let us bring in some more YouTube commentary as well for this because it lends to the debate. The NSFW parts have been creatively bleeped or at least most of them hopefully. Again, our deepest apologies if we miss any.
Now this is not a snapshot of public opinion by any means at all but it does stop to make you think at the very least. The hit on Jason Zucker has ZERO place in the game. That is the clear and present difference here. Give Zack Kassian credit, his hit was clean but a bit late and under the international rules he likely was disciplined a bit much for it. Whatever the two Slovaks get is going to be interesting to see because the debate will be fierce.
What also has no place is Canadian fans or American fans for that matter trivializing an injury in any way but for an announcer to use “token phrasing” is inexcusable. Should he be yanked off the air? No. Should he be given a stern talking to? Yes he should. This is 2010 and really almost 2011. Yes the intensity ratchets up in tournaments like this but this is the prelims and the two teams are not even playing each other yet.
I also understand that this is the TSN feed that the NHL Network is getting but the reality becomes nothing will change until the culture changes. What would that take? Well maybe it takes an American crew going up there and covering the game on an American channel. The problem is who would and that is why we have the TSN feed and are thankful. Hopefully someone influential watching saw what happened last night and wants to do something because the reality is the hard core American hockey fans were definitely kicked in the groin last night.
So while the debate of hits is great, it paints a darker and more dicey picture when it comes to coverage. Lend us your ears here, what say you readers?