Monday, January 3, 2011

Karma gets best of Ronnberg's Swedes

Only a couple of days after Sweden enjoyed a shootout victory over Canada in the last preliminary game of the World Junior Hockey Championship round-robin, Sweden themselves suffered that same fate to a never-say-die Russian squad that has eliminated them from gold medal contention.

The Russians defeated Sweden in this afternoon semi-final and will move on to play Canada who beat the USA 4-1 Monday evening.

Following Sweden's victory over Canada, Sweden's head coach Ronnberg had some comments that sparked some controversy, even if they had no malicious intent.  The Swedes, and Ronnberg, don’t lack for confidence. After Friday’s shootout win over Canada the head coach said Canada hadn’t given his team as much problem as the Czechs and Russians. Dave Cameron, the Canadian coach, winced at that and said the next day he wished the coaches could play a game against each other.

Ronnberg said Sunday he hadn’t meant the comment in the aggressive way it sounded, and there was a bit of unfamiliarity with the English language involved. “I mean, no disrespect for Hockey Canada,” he said. “I have great respect for them. I just meant that Canada had 10 scoring chances in that game, where the Czechs had 18 against us and Russia 19. And Canada did not play its best game that night.”

Given the Swedes loss to Russia today in a shootout, he may have learned to measure his words better before kicking a team when it's down.  It's pretty obvious that Ronnberg wouldn't intentionally insult Canada, but certainly Canadians take their hockey seriously and his comments were perhaps a little ill-advised moments after the loss.

Nevertheless, the Canadians were very impressive over the Americans in the other semi-final this evening, and they will now prepare to face the Russians in Wednesday evening's Gold Medal game.

Tournaments like these are always used as a measuring stick for nations' developmental programs and the future of the world stage for hockey dominance.  Whenever Canada loses, questions arise about the style of play, the developmental system and the leadership at Hockey Canada.  As is often the case, there are thankfully enough people urging for cooler heads to prevail.

Let us take a step back and realize that due to the concurrent NHL season, there are many eligible stars for Canada who could not attend this tournament.  Every youngster currently representing Canada in Buffalo is doing a great job, but Canadians can't help but imagine how dominant the team could be if they had their full compliment of eligible players at their disposal.  There are at least 7 young stars in the NHL unable to attend this tournament.

Matt Duchene, Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, Jordan Eberle, Ryan O'Reilly, Jeff Skinner, and Evander Kane (not to forget the injury Brandon Gormley on defence)

Thankfully for Canadians, the Los Angeles Kings agreed to release forward Brayden Schenn for the tournament, who has turned in a virtuoso performance, leading the tournament in scoring.

Canada and Russia hit the ice Wednesday afternoon/evening for the gold medal, while Sweden will take on the USA earlier in the day.


  1. Canada is the home of hockey - no doubt. Other countries are getting better but I don't think anyone can argue that Canada is still the best.

  2. Pietranglo and Tavares are not eligible because they're too old. Fowler is not eligible because, well, he's not even Canadian, he's American.