Your! Call: Is Canada's recent drought at WJHC troubling?

Mike Beauvais,

12/2/2013 3:07:51 PM

To put it bluntly, we're spoiled. We really are.

There have been 36 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships and Canada has won gold 15 times. No country has won more. We are used to greatness. We expect it as Canadian hockey fans.

In the 10 years from 1988 to 1997, led by the likes of Eric Lindros, Scott Niedermayer and Jarome Iginla, Canada won eight gold medals, including five straight. Then, from 2005 to 2009, Canada won another five straight with teams featuring future NHL All-Stars in Dion Phaneuf, Carey Price and Sidney Crosby.

But here's the rub: since that gold medal triumph in 2009 won by a team coached by the Pat Quinn and including PK Subban, John Tavares and Evander Kane, Canada has not won the tournament again.

Sure, Canada has medaled in three of those four years (silvers in 2010 and 2011 and a bronze in 2012,) but for a country where hockey is king, you don't celebrate being anything but the best.

Is it time to worry?

Yes, there have been droughts before. Upon the WJHC's inception in 1977, Canada didn't win gold until its sixth year. Granted, in those days, Canada typically sent that year's Memorial Cup champions to the tournament, rather than the teams filled with the nation's best junior players that we're used to seeing now. After Canada's five straight triumphs ending in 1997, the country went seven years without a gold. Even players the calibre of Vincent Lecavalier, Roberto Luongo and Rick Nash couldn't bring home the title.

The nation fretted then and that unease is starting to return with this current dearth of titles.

Is that fair, though?

Every December, many assume these young men will bring home the gold. But if Brent Sutter's team doesn't hear "O Canada" on January 5th of next year, it will be another six-year drought. As a Canadian hockey fan, how concerning is it that Canada hasn't won world junior gold recently?

As always, it's Your! Call.