Well, it will be tough but I'll try to make a few points that haven't quite made the rounds yet. First off, let's dispel the myths that everyone is spouting (especially my co-workers this morning):

Roster selection? Pshaw. Canada had the best collection of individual players, bar none. Perhaps a different roster would have been an even better collection, but not necessarily the best collective.

International sized ice surface? Don't forget that all of the remaining contenders are almost entirely NHL players. Europeans born and raised on the big ice might have slightly more ingrained instincts for the international game, but the advantage would be miniscule.

Taking time out of the NHL season? Building chemistry? The lockout?? Again, these are all the same for the remaining four teams.

The fact is, it was a close game and Canada lost to the tournament's second best collection of individuals. This sort of thing happens all the time in every hockey league in the world, so it should come as no surprise. At these best-on-best events, when all of the contenders have world-class skating, anyone can win. The point was made well in a comment by Colin M. at Tom Benjamin's:

"5 different countries won medals between the 1998 and 2002 olympics and the only major country that didn't medal in that time won gold in 1994."

It's often said that any one of 7 nations can win any given event. The corollary of that rule is that any 3 of those nations can finish out of the top 4. With this much volatility, it is pointless to get bent out of shape over a single event. You have to take the long view. Canada has been on a great run since 2002 with the gold at Salt Lake, two WHC golds and one WHC silver, and the 2004 World Cup.

Once again, the only change I would dare propose would be to take a page out of textbook Sutter hockey. The world junior team was built with a theme in mind, and they played their game perfectly. Some highly esteemed talents were left off the team or given reduced roles, all in the name of playing their team game. The result was a convincing win.


Now for some perspective, courtesy of AQG at HWTUA.

If you can look at that photo, see the arcs that were carved in the ice by kids skating, and still grouse about what happened yesterday, then you don't really love this game.


Anonymous kazmojo said...

The other, bigger change you suggested was a full round robin format. Maybe not as dramatic as single-elimination, but certainly more fair. And while it wouldn't have helped Canada, it could have rewarded the hard work of the Swiss and Slovaks.

2/23/2006 1:43 p.m.  
Blogger Jeff J said...

Absolutely - you gotta feel for the Slovaks. After getting shafted at Salt Lake, they sweep their group only to run into the 4th place (!) Czechs. At least they can hold their heads high for not throwing their game vs. Sweden. If they had, they would have drawn the Swiss...

2/23/2006 3:48 p.m.  

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