Hockey Canada president and CEO Tom Renney held a media availability in Helsinki on Sunday to address Team Canada's disappointing sixth place finish at this year's World Juniors.
"I thought our team was very well prepared, I thought we had as good a coaching staff at the competition as anyone," Renney said in defending head coach Dave Lowry and his staff. "There's no doubt in my mind that our guys put the time and effort in to have the team ready to go. There is a point in time where that transfer of responsibility goes from the coach to the player. We're talking about teenagers that have to cope and deal with situations in the spontaneity of hockey that sometimes work against you and sometimes don't.
"The bottom line is the coaching staff did an excellent job."
Renney said Canada's first quarterfinal loss since 1998 was due in large part to a lack discipline, but he also noted other trouble spots."At the end of the day, our special teams needed to maybe perform a bit better," said Renney. "When your save percentage is under .900 everyone knows that it's going to be tough to win. There's no question about that." Canada's team save percentage (.860) was ninth out of 10 teams in the tournament while the penalty kill (58.8%) was dead last.
Team USA head coach Ron Wilson has never been shy about expressing an opinion and on Sunday he didn't hold back when asked about Team Canada's surprising early exit.
"I guess you could say they got that they deserved," Wilson said. "When you're living and dying by the penalty, you just can't do that. We've only taken a few penalties in this tournament."
Team USA has only been shorthanded 12 times and only allowed one power play goal.
"Canada was so close, but they shot themselves in the foot," Wilson said. "I had mentioned to their coach before the game, 'You got to make sure you don't take any penalties, because penalties will kill you, especially against Finland.'" Wilson, whose American team beat Canada to open the tournament, had been looking forward to a potential rematch in the gold-medal game. "I was hoping that it would take place, but when you watched the games, Canada was always on the edge of taking an extra penalty and yesterday they did."After Finland's win over Canada, an emotional Patrik Laine guaranteed his team would beat Sweden in the semi-finals. He refused to back down from that boast on Sunday. Why is he so confident?
"Last night's win was the key point for us in this tournament," he explained. "Now, I know we have beaten the top team in this tournament and now I know we can beat anybody so I'm confident with our team." Heading into the knockout stage, Canada had lost to the USA, Sweden and needed a shootout to beat Switzerland so why did Laine still believe they were the team to beat? "I thought they had the best players in this tournament."