Welcome to Sports from Nowhere, which should be a lot more enlightening than if I did a News from Nowhere. Instead of linking to stories about Erie, Pennsylvania being buried in several feet of snow, I’ll link to stories about that World Juniors hockey game in Buffalo which also got buried in snow.
Yes, that’s right, Canada played the USA in a game in which the elements were, uh, a factor. Not only was the game halted several times to allow crews to go onto the ice to shovel the snow away, but many fans in Canada never even got to the game because some truck went on fire on the QEW, backing up the traffic for hours.
It was surely a more interesting experience for those sitting at home watching on TV to see USA come back to win in a shootout 4-3. A game like this is bound to produce a divided reaction; on the one hand, it’s wild weather conditions that often make for memorable and classic game experiences, and this was one of them.
On the other hand, you also have the uptight traditionalists who have always hated outdoor hockey and dismissed it as a gimmick. A lot of them pointed to this awful weather and disgustedly said it was a disgrace, and that this snow ruined the game. It seems to me that these haters mainly reside in Canada, so the final score gave them plenty of reasons to vent frustration.
This game itself in Orchard Park got an attendance of more than 44,000, the biggest crowd in World Juniors history. That should answer critics who pointed to all the lousy attendances at the other games. Of course, attendance issues are nothing new, there have even been empty seats for World Juniors games in Canada in recent years. And of course, the IIHF has done nothing to address the situation. Why the heck these tournament organizers don’t drop their ridiculous ticket prices is beyond me; you practically have to be a member of the “elite” to go to any hockey game anymore.
The fact that it was the third World Juniors in four years involving the southern Ontario market might be a bigger factor. The IIHF really does need to move these games out of the NHL cities and get them back into more CHL grassroots-type venues again, and soon.
Also, as usual, NCAA football fans in Canada are mad again at TSN because they keep on bumping coverage of the bowl games so they can show World Junior hockey games that nobody cares about, not to mention SportsCentre and other highlight-reel crap. Now, granted, nobody’s going to these bowl games, either, but it doesn’t matter. Football fans are sick and tired of seeing football treated in a second-class manner by the Canadian TV networks. They want equal treatment, that’s all. And so there is a lot of built-up resentment towards the World Juniors for that reason as well.
Finally, the other story from this week is that legendary Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Johnny Bower died at the age of 93.
This is a real sad story for me personally. I actually met and interviewed Bower for a TV story back around 2000 in Mississauga, and I always considered that a highlight of my (so-called) journalism career. We got to talking about Bower’s time playing during the “Original Six” era and he was going ‘oh yeah, it was great hockey’.
If you want to know why “Leafs Nation” is such a cult, I think a lot of it has to do with class acts like Bower, who represented the Leafs in the community long after playing in the NHL. Anyway, RIP Johnny Bower.
That is all for now.