Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 12/27/10 at 10:33 AM ET
from Bruce Dowbiggin of the Globe and Mail,
What if they held a hockey tournament in the middle of the forest and no one noticed? That was an accurate description of the world junior hockey championship until TSN decided in 1991 to make the annual event into something on the order of the Super Bowl. Or bigger. The prescient decision to commit the entire network to the efforts of under-20 players over the length of the Christmas and New Year’s holiday break proves yet again that television defines the event, not the other way around.
Certainly, the tournament is no indicator of NHL success as the John Slaneys, Justin Pogges and Marty Murrays have shown. Canada’s dominance of the junior event hasn’t necessarily predicted Olympic dominance either. But captured in the moment by TV, the juniors’ passionate embrace of the Maple Leaf blurs rational description.
In the days before it obtained its current full complement of the NHL’s TV package, TSN was looking around for a signature hockey property to fill its schedule. CBC had carried some of the earlier world junior tournaments since their inception in 1977, but the event was overshadowed at the Corp. by Hockey Night in Canada. It also fell on the holidays, leading some to think no one would watch during a time saturated with traditional football bowl games.
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