What? The coming of Monday Night Raw on August 22? That of Michael Buble in October? None of this, although these are not trivial subjects, let’s agree.
No, rather the lack of enthusiasm about the World Junior Hockey Championship taking place these days in the capital of Alberta after being canceled due to COVID-19 during the last holiday season.
Pushing it back to August may have seemed like a good idea last winter; it is a little less so now.
There is an unease in the air about the event. A backstory rarely mentioned, if only lip service. This results in a disaffection of amateurs. Canada attracts an average of 4,100 spectators per game, peaking at 5,200 against Finland on Thursday, far from the numbers expected when the tournament is presented in the west of the country in general.
The international federation does not specify the number of spectators for all the matches, and prefers to keep this information for itself when we can clearly see, by eye, that there are only a few hundred supporters scattered in the stands. .
The bars in the city center are not full, motivated supporters with their team bibs on their backs are rather rare. Hey, here’s one at the end of the street… Oh no, we confused it with a rugby shirt. Sorry to have disturbed you.
We stop in front of a well-looking estaminet to shout at this gentleman with an Expos cap. Inevitably, it must be a friendly boy.
He is from Kingston and bought his tickets a long time ago.
I am a fan of this tournamenthe says, admitting in the same breath that the atmosphere is gloomy.
It’s summeradvances his partner, the two having preferred to keep their names silent.
This is the often cited reason. People don’t mind hockey in August. Quite possible. This volunteer had told us as much the day before.
There was so much excitement during the holiday season, we were all ready. It’s not crowded, it’s true, but it’s so nice outsideshe said.
We look outside. Impossible to contradict her.
Now it’s Team Canada junior forward Nathan Gaucher’s turn.
It’s summer, it might be different. It’s still the world junior tournament, the fans are in it, you can see it in the stands. I couldn’t tell you it’s the same as Christmas, but I think it’s still pretty goodhe believes.
His remarks are reported to the two thirsty Expos fans, and they nod. About to take his leave, the Kingstonian adds:
There is also a lot of noise around Hockey Canada.
This is the end of the sentence that often seems to be left hanging. As if no one wanted to touch it, although it is obvious that the scandals that have stained Hockey Canada for three months and which have only grown in magnitude do not leave many indifferent.
If you’re not an avid hockey fan like me, adds our man at the table, beer in hand, there may be some form of boycott.
For professional purposes, of course, we enter the establishment to meet the manager, Jordan Beatty, to whom we referred previously.
It’s definitely less busy than we expected. There was excitement in the air for the tournament before Christmas, it just didn’t materialize in the endhe explains.
Beatty counts on his fingers, he lists the causes, in his opinion, of this disengagement.
He talks about the weather, the month of August, the fact that only half of the tickets had been sold in December due to the reduced capacities at that time and that the campaign to sell the rest beat l wing a bit.
I will tell you the truthcontinues Beatty.
The scandal is a major reason for many people. You would have to be naive to think otherwise. This is the topic of the hour in town. People ask each other if they’re going to see games, and the answer is often, “I’m not going to support people who take money from families to settle cases of alleged abuse. sexual”he explains.
Inexhaustible, Beatty says that his establishment had organized an evening during which he gave away tickets if people signed up for a little fun competition completely free, and that he had struggled to find people simply to accept them.
I think Hockey Canada does not fully appreciate the seriousness of the situationhe argues.
Little sporting interest
Even National Hockey League (NHL) scouts are not rushing to the gate. From a pure sporting point of view, the caliber is very disparate between the national teams and even within each of them.
Summer is not a good period for evaluation, a recruiter whispered to us.
Players finished on June 25. Others have been in the gym for two months. They are all to different degreesobserves our man.
” I can’t say that we attach great importance to the tournament in terms of player evaluation. »
This tournament is one of drafted players. Nevertheless, according to this scout, the teams usually pay more attention to it.
In December, we will take a closer look, because the players are in the middle of the season and the stakes are high too.he adds.
The fact that several talents have withdrawn in order to concentrate on the opening of the NHL camps in the coming weeks could have opened the door to more young people eligible for the next draft, which was not the event in the end.
Another scout let us know that his team only has five players in this tournament who are in the top four rounds of their preliminary standings for the 2023 draft.
There are games between two junior teams that bring together so many hopeshe specified.
No matter how you look at it, this tournament is largely under the radar these days.
The players of this edition, however, do not seem to suffer too much. After all, there is a gold medal on the line and a quarter-final game against Switzerland on Wednesday night.