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.