It’s been five long months since the end of the Canucks’ season and I am starting to get desperate for some hockey. The summer months were fine and dandy when the weather was sunny, but as soon as the clouds rolled in, my mind turned to the ice.
I guess it’s a good thing that we’re just over a week away from being able to watch the best players in the world, including several Canucks, representing their respective countries (or regions or age-groups) and battling it out for hockey supremacy in the World Cup of Hockey! There’s just one problem: I can’t bring myself to care one tiny little bit.
Does anyone care about the World Cup of Hockey? Is anyone eagerly anticipating this tournament? If so, I genuinely want to know: why? What is it about the tournament that gets you excited? Because I just can’t get to it.
I’m legitimately more excited for the Young Stars Tournament, with the Canucks’ prospects taking on those of the Jets, Flames, and Oilers. That tournament starts the day before the World Cup, takes up just four days, and has no definitive winner, but I am pumped to watch it. My obsession with the Canucks might make me a sick, sick man, but I've come to accept the disease. But the World Cup? Nope, don't care.
Part of my apathy is how contrived the whole thing seems.
There’s no real history to this tournament to lend it legitimacy. There have been just two previous World Cups of Hockey, in 1996 and 2004. The one that took place in 2004 was immediately followed by the 2004-05 lockout, which should have been seen as a sign that the tournament was cursed and should never be repeated.
Sure, there’s a tenuous connection to the Canada Cup tournament that started in the mid-70’s, but it’s a far cry from the Olympics or even the World Championships that have a long, consistent history. Winning the Olympics has cachet that the World Cup can't match and even if North Americans are blasé about the World Championships, they're a big deal on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
Then there’s the gimmick teams: Team North America and Team Europe. I’m not the first to roll my eyes at the idea, but I believe my eyes are rolling the hardest.
Will hockey fans in Germany, Switzerland, and Slovakia cheer for their Franken-team the same way they would cheer for their own country? Will the players play for pride of country when they’re not even wearing their country’s sweater? Will they make up lyrics to whatever weird anthem gets played if Team Europe wins?
Meanwhile, is anyone going to cheer for the U-23 North American team? Who? Seriously, who will cheer for Team Not Good Enough for Team Canada and Team USA but Young and Marketable?
Then there are the brutal commercials that ask “Who owns hockey?” as if that was actually a legitimate question. No one owns hockey. It’s not a possession that can be owned. Then they conveniently ignore the existence of the gimmicky Team Europe and Team North America. That’s because you can’t say “North Americans under the age of 23 own hockey” with any sense of nationalistic pride.
Don’t even get me started on the “Reg Carling Show” ads, because those were truly terrible.
And I’m not even going to bother talking about the World Cup’s dumb trophy, except to say that it’s dumb. It’s a dumb trophy.
For Canucks fans, I suppose you can get excited about the idea of the Sedis developing some chemistry with Loui Eriksson prior to the start of the season, though that excitement should be tempered by concerns that they get injured or suffer needless wear-and-tear.
Or maybe you can get excited about Jannik Hansen and Luca Sbisa playing for Team Europe? Or about Jacob Markstrom sitting on the bench for Team Sweden?
Maybe I’ve just gotten too cynical. Maybe this will be a fun and thrilling tournament. Maybe I will react to Team Canada winning this dumb trophy with the same excitement as when they won the gold medal in 2010. I just sincerely doubt it.
How about you? Do you care about the World Cup of Hockey? Why or why not?