I figure if you are a reader of this site that you’re not just a Pens fan but a hockey fan as well. Well, right now, possibly the best hockey tournament of them all is about to conclude tonight, the World Junior Championships. It is a multi country tournament for players under the age of 20 and takes place every year starting the day after Christmas (Boxing Day in Canada) and usually runs until about January 5th. It is a round robin format with the four best teams ending up in the semi-finals.
This is hockey the way we used to see it in the old Olympic days before the NHLers were allowed to participate. It’s 22 kids not only playing for the glory of their country but to impress NHL scouts as well. Many of the players have already been drafted by NHL teams, but every year some diamond in the rough kid who has not been drafted shines at this tournament and ends up being a top pick in the upcoming draft.
To Canadians, this tournament is as big as the Stanley Cup Finals (Usually because there is no Canadian team in the Finals and Canada is always in the WJC Finals) Unfortunately, there are no Penguin prospects in the tournament this year unlike in past years when Sid, Geno, Fleury, Staal and Letang, who was actually Canada’s captain the year he played, all had their moments of glory on their respective teams. Be sure never to mention to Fleury about how he lost a big game for Canada by shooting the puck of his own defense-man’s butt back into his own net.
As I said, this year’s Finals are tonight, and if you’re lucky enough to get the NHL Network, you will get to see a rematch between Canada and the US. Their round robin game, always played on New Year’s Eve, was won by Canada in shootout after the US blew a 2 goal lead late in the third period.
I realize the Pens play tonight, but it’s just one of an 82 game schedule, and it is only the Thrashers after all so if you feel like checking out the stars of the future including next year’s sure to be #1 draft pick Taylor Hall, the game is at 7:30 on the NHL Network