If you look only for the gold-medal game, the 2022 World Juniors will look like any other tournament. The stands were almost full, the action tense (Paging Mason McTavish…) and the kids were either happy or devastated depending on which side of the score they ended up on.

But of course this was no ordinary World Junior. To begin with, it was a make-up tournament for the edition that was canceled a few days later in December, when COVID and poor planning forced the IIHF to postpone the event in Alberta.

Then there was the fact that it was hosted in Edmonton during Hockey Canada’s worst existential crisis, where the organization was harassed for its actions surrounding the ongoing sexual harassment scandal involving the previous two World Junior squads (to date). He is going.

And with most people enjoying the summer, the tournament resumed at Rogers Place with high ticket prices and very few takers until that final game. Most competitions were played in front of friends and family, and even Canadian sports only interested enough people to fill a quarter of the field. This was evident when IIHF held its annual press conference on the last day of the festival. Usually, a representative from the host country is part of it – but it’s probably understandable that no one from Hockey Canada was invited this year.

Instead, only IIHF President Luc Tardiff and Tournament President/IIHF Vice President Heinrich Bach Nielsen spoke to reporters and they did not cover warts in Edmonton.

“Personally, coming from Denmark, $50, $60, $100 for one of these games – yes, that’s a high price,” Bach Nielsen said. “It’s a challenge in August, but then why isn’t August worth it?”

Tarif was asked what the IIHF learned from the tournament and he could not help answering it with a bit of dry humour.

“What can we learn from this?” They said. “Never try to settle it in the summer.”

Between the timing and the high prices (which were even higher for Canadian sports), it was a bad look on TV, but it impressed even those who worked hard.

“The kids, the organization committee, they didn’t deserve it,” said Tariff. “They are not guilty.”

So what could have been done differently? I say the tournament should have been free.

Because Tardiff is right: Players who skipped their summer weeks — risking injury before training camps and losing time in the weight room at a critical age — all came to Edmonton because they wanted to repeat their country and hopefully To achieve a dream that was dashed back in December.

At the same time, it seems strange to reward Hockey Canada at a time when we know the organization has misappropriated funds over the years. And Hockey Canada already knew it would lose millions of dollars on these games as major sponsors pulled out (the only advertiser on the boards was Tissot, the luxury watch company that was an IIHF partner, not a Hockey Canada partner) over the sexual harassment scandal. From.

That’s why I think free admission will be the way to go. The players deserved a full rink to watch them play and when the fans were actually in the stands for the gold-medal game, the atmosphere was great.

Sure, it will take some logistics and crowd control to figure this out, but that’s why you have all those people behind the scenes (it’s smarter than me when it comes to logistics, it goes without saying ).

I asked Tardiff if Hockey Canada could face IIHF discipline for the sexual assault scandal and he said the IIHF’s response would come after the reopened investigation in Canada ended. But the door was open to punish both the players and the organisation.

We now move on to the 2023 World Juniors, hosted – again – by Canada, but this time in the major junior strongholds of Halifax and Moncton. The rink will be slightly smaller, but should fill the passion buildings on the east side. And hopefully Hockey Canada will be forced to put their act together by then.

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