You’re a hockey fan. You enjoy the World Juniors every year, and hey why not, it’s a great event. But quite frankly, World Juniors and presumptuous World Junior media, you don’t have a sniff who 15% of these kids are because it’s junior hockey and you follow the NHL and you’ve got a job and a life outside being a hockey fan, goshdarnit. Am I close?
Well, don’t you fear. We’re just a couple days into the event and you haven’t missed much (anything) yet. To really enjoy the tournament it helps to know the basic details, so let me fill you in on those. We’ll call this “World Juniors for Dummies,” and yes, I include myself in that label. Here’s what it helps to know:
The what: The World Junior Championship! It matters to nations like Canada!
And…sort of Russia.
Maybe Sweden a bit?
…Canada, though. F’real.
The who: If you’re under 20 years old and one of the 22 best hockey players in your country, you can play. Assuming your country is into the whole thing, of course.
The where: Malmo, Sweden. More on that below.
The when: December 26th til January 5th. But not much all that cool happens til the second of January, when the not-really-contenders are officially wiped out.
The how: Ten teams, separated into two groups of five. The teams in each group play each other once. Top four from each group advance and are seeded how you’d expect. Bottom two teams play a best-of-three to avoid relegation.
Okay, the last part wasn’t true, just seeing if you’re paying attention.
The why: What, we’re getting existential about the whole thing? I don’t know.
The Pools (links go to rosters)
The Schedule, TV and otherwise
For opinion and updates, I’d completely unbiasedly recommend Backhand Shelf, which will be featuring a daily piece (largely North American-centric) on the action every day, not too dissimilar from the On The Regroup posts you’ve come to know.
For completely over-the-top overkill obsession (man, that left-winger on Switzerland’s third line sure makes a nice C-cut when skating backwards, doesn’t he?), TSN has what you’re looking for. WE DO TO HAVE HOCKEY YOU GUYS, SEE??
I’d also recommend the Twitter humans below, who are all over it:
You can also use the hashtag #2014WJC if you’d like to be a part of the conversation.
Names of note
The following players are some of the biggest names in the event, and likely to be your tournament difference-makers. Tune in.
- Mikhail Grigorenko, Russia
- Teuvo Teravainen, Finland
- Jonathan Drouin, Canada
- Sam Reinhart, Canada
- Connor McDavid, Canada
- Matt Dumba, Canada
- Leon Draisaitl, Germany
- Adam Erne, United States
- Riley Barber, United States
- Radek Faksa, Czech Republic
- Marko Dano, Slovakia
- Filip Forsberg, Sweden
- Elias Lindholm, Sweden
The following players are eligible to be drafted this upcoming summer, and damn good at hockey. Watch for them.
- Sam Reinhart (Canada)
- Aaron Ekblad (Canada)
- Leon Draisaitl (Germany)
- Ivan Barbashev (Russia)
- Julius Honka (Finland)
- Anton Karlsson (Sweden)
- Jakub Vrana (Czech Republic)
- David Pastrnak (Czech Republic)
You can learn more about the names above here.
The name you probably need to know most
Connor McDavid (Canada), or “McJesus,” as I’ve seen him called. He’s eligible to go in the 2015 draft, and teams are already thinking about tanking that year to get him. He’s “the next one,” your next Crosby, a 16 year old holding his own against guys far more developed (older) than him.
The main teams have been previewed in video form. Come along! Let’s learn about…
Those Swedes, man. They can do it however you want it. Gritty? They got it. Skill game? No problem. Patience, poise…they’re the real deal.
Bold not to pick Germany, I know. Enjoy the tourney!
One more thing…the WJC mascot
What the hell is this (thanks to Mark Masters for the pic):