The World Cup of Hockey is upon us! Exhibition games start tomorrow, though people who are mad online about more hockey to watch will surely try to convince you that the entire tournament is a meaningless exhibition. Whatever it may be, and wherever the financial windfall may go, it’s still nice to see some of the world’s best take each other on for the sake of our entertainment and a little bit of national pride.
There’s even a bunch of Leafs representation, with six of the eight teams including roster players, and Mike Babcock making his usual cameo behind the bench of Team Canada. Team Europe is there too, but Frederik Andersen’s injury sustained during Olympic qualifying will keep him out.
So, with all of that and more in mind… who are you cheering for?
Some will pick based on their favourite players. Some will pick based on a feeling that this is still an international tournament to be one. Some are just praying that none of their team’s players get hurt.
Personally, if I have a hat to throw in this ring, it’s for Team North America. Connor McDavid is arguably already the best player in the world, Auston Matthews has a chance to get some Air Canada Centre games in before doing it in the correct jersey, Morgan Rielly will get some big minutes with a great defensive partner in Aaron Ekblad, and the entire team is going to be eager to show their “real” national teams that they’re just as good.
Which, of course, is wrong. With a constantly evolving game and athletic prime coming at 23-24, they’re probably actually better than their countries. Certainly better than the USA, who seemingly picked their roster out of a hat and appears to want to play gritball in a two-week tournament. Canada’s roster matches up well, but it’d be cool in a weird way to see Babcock have a blemish on his record that makes him even more eager to do his thing with the Leafs. Speaking of a Maple Leaf, part of me wants Canada to lose solely for ruining the best international uniform they’ve ever designed by pairing it with the worst crest they’ve ever worn.
Anyway, that’s just me. Who’s your pick? Pledge your allegiance below.