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Zibanejad And The World Junior Championships

The World Junior Championships begin on December 26th in Ufa, Russia.  They will be a stronger tournament that usual because players who would be in the NHL are available since they are locked out.  Except things are not quite that simple.  Even though the NHL is locked out, one team is preventing their player from participating in the tournament.

Mika Zibanejad is Ottawa Senator property.  They drafted him sixth overall in 2011.  He participated in the 2012 World Junior Championships and scored the gold medal winning goal  He is one of the top junior aged players in the world.  He played nine NHL games last season before finishing his season in Sweden.  This season he is playing in the AHL with the Binghamton Senators and has not been a star.  He has only one goal and six assists in sixteen games played.  The Sens feel that he would be better served playing in the AHL than in the World Junior Championships.  That is a questionable statement and when the lockout is considered it is questionable if the Sens even have the right to do this.

Zibanejad is Swedish and that is the only reason Ottawa has not created a national scandal from their actions.  Canada is the only country that takes the World Junior Championships seriously.  The boards in European rinks holding World Junior games often have advertisements on the boards that are geared for Canadian TV audiences instead of the local audience at the arena (Canadian Tire or Tim Horton's for example).  Canada would be very upset if a Canadian team was keeping a Canadian player out of the tournament.    There is less interest in the competition.  Sweden is the defending champions and their being weakened is encouraged by the partisan Canadian fans.

It is bad practice to keep a player who is struggling at the AHL level out of the World Junior Championships when he could gain some confidence starring overseas in a high level tournament.  It is bad for public relations.  Given the NHL lockout it really makes an NHL look like they have overstepped their boundaries.  A legal challenge of this would likely show that this is the case.  If Mika Zibanejad was a Canadian this would be a major scandal in Canada.  Since he is Swedish the Ottawa Senators have been able to get away with it without much backlash.

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Comments

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A legal challenge of this would likely show that this is the case.

What’s your basis for this?

Posted by Garth on 12/19/12 at 10:00 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

I wonder if it’s because of how good he was last year and the fact Ottawa is the capital of Canada. Hmmmmmmm

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 12/19/12 at 10:40 PM ET

Avatar

Canada would be very upset if a Canadian team was keeping a Canadian player out of the tournament.

Happens every year to Team Canada. May still happen this year if there is movement on the lockout as RNH would likely be headed straight back to Edmonton from Ufa.

Rumour has it that Zibenejad is injured, and being kept in North America for rehab. Personally, I’d trust a team to do whatever is in their players best interest over a national team program’s needs. There is the “investment in the future” aspect to consider. You seem to be saying that their is some weird tinfoil hat thing going on to keep him out of the tourney. I’d suggest the Senators are trying to protect their investment in a potential top six forward rather than some pro-Canada tomfoolery.

Posted by LiveEatBreatheHockey on 12/20/12 at 01:01 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

PSH: Canada would be very upset if a Canadian team was keeping a Canadian player out of the tournament.

LEBH:Happens every year to Team Canada.

PSH:  There is a big difference between keeping a player out to play in the NHL - which happens every year - and keeping a player out to be locked out of the NHL and playing in the AHL - which is unprecidented.

LEBH :I’d suggest the Senators are trying to protect their investment in a potential top six forward rather than some pro-Canada tomfoolery.

PSH:  That’s the tinfoil hat explanation.  Ottawa ca’t let Zibanejad play because Canada might deliberately hurt him.  Its a rather lame excuse if we allow it - it allows any team to pull anyone for any reason and have cover for it.

I argue Zibanejad is as likely to be hurt playing in the AHL as he is i the world Juniors.

 

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/20/12 at 01:14 AM ET

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Zibenajad hasn’t played since November 24. My point is that he is most likely injured now, not going to be Bobby Clarked if he goes over.

Posted by LiveEatBreatheHockey on 12/20/12 at 01:43 AM ET

Dakkster's avatar

It is a national scandal here in Sweden. We are pissed off that Ottawa is doing this and it has been all over the papers.

Posted by Dakkster from Southern Sweden on 12/20/12 at 06:25 AM ET

Dakkster's avatar

I guess I missed this when I glossed over the post.

“Canada is the only country that takes the World Junior Championships seriously.”

You are just too much sometimes. Do you live in some kind of bubble making you incredibly ignorant? Do you want to know how many Swedes usually follow the world junior championship? Do you have ANY idea what kind of media exposure it gets here? You are just clueless.

Posted by Dakkster from Southern Sweden on 12/20/12 at 07:09 AM ET

Dakkster's avatar

LiveEatBreatheHockey: Zibanejad is on record saying that he wants to play in the tournament but that he’s only following orders.

Posted by Dakkster from Southern Sweden on 12/20/12 at 07:11 AM ET

Avatar

Zibanejad is on record saying that he wants to play in the tournament but that he’s only following orders.

OK, but he hasn’t played in nearly a month, so he’s probably not 100% and I’d love to hear an argument that supports him playing in an exhibition tournament while he hasn’t been healthy enough to

play for the team that pays him

.

He wants to play?  So what?  So does every injured player.  If he wants to play so badly he can earn his paycheck in the AHL.

Posted by Garth on 12/20/12 at 09:49 AM ET

redxblack's avatar

@Dakkster - Czechs also get QUITE into the World Juniors. I’ve got to agree with you that FAR MORE than just Canada cares about the WJ tournament.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 12/20/12 at 11:37 AM ET

Dakkster's avatar

I don’t doubt that for a second. Most of the European countries take the WJC very seriously. Anyone saying otherwise is nothing but an ignorant boob.

Posted by Dakkster from Southern Sweden on 12/20/12 at 11:45 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

How seriously one takes the World Junior Championships is a relative statement.  Canada gets the highest ratings for weeks on TSN (their top sports network) for games that occur at 7 AM on Boxing Day.  Europe cannot match that.

That doesn’t mean nobody watches the games - its not on that level.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/20/12 at 11:49 AM ET

Dakkster's avatar

Because it’s not on that level (everyone goes completely nuts about anything hockey) that doesn’t mean that it’s not taken seriously. Ignorant statement any way you slice it.

Posted by Dakkster from Southern Sweden on 12/20/12 at 12:07 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

What’s the legal relationship here? Zibanejad is on his EL contract with the Senators and has been loaned to Binghampton. I would guess that even if the Ottawa Senators didn’t have the legal authority to tell him he couldn’t play, the Binghampton Senators do. Even if Ottawa told Binghampton that they didn’t want him to play, it wouldn’t matter. Binghampton should still be able to release him; it’s just that they would face the wrath of the NHL team.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/20/12 at 12:24 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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