Wow, Bob Nicholson must have been far more valuable than we could have ever imagined. The guy retires as president and CEO of Hockey Canada and in its first game in international competition after, Canada loses 3-2 in a shootout to France.
Digest that for a moment. Canada. Lost. To. France. In hockey. And we reiterate this was in ice hockey. Not field hockey, air hockey, table hockey, underwater hockey or tonsil hockey. (The last one we’d have to give it to France in a walk.)
Say what you want about the rest of the world catching up and improving. Go ahead and let yourself believe that this was an Olympic year and Canada didn’t have access to some players who would have otherwise played. Soothe yourself by focusing on the fact that this is one of the youngest and least experienced teams Canada has ever sent to this event.
But the reality is there’s no way to put lipstick on this pig. Canada lost to a team that has a defenseman who plays in the Central Hockey League. He plays for the Quad City Mallards, which should not be confused with the Angers Ducs or Dijon Ducs. Two of their guys play for something called the Grenoble Bruleurs de Loups. Canada got stoned by Cristobal Huet, a 38-year-old whom the Chicago Blackhawks paid $11.25 million not to play in the NHL.
That shouldn’t have happened if Canada had sent an all-star team of American League players to Belarus. So I’m going to put it out there. This, my friends, is Canada’s worst-ever defeat on the international stage. Here are some other losses and ties, listed in chronological order, for your consideration.
Discuss amongst yourselves.
Feb. 26, 1933: Playing at the World Championship in Prague, Canada was represented by a team called the Toronto National Sea Fleas (seriously) and were coached by Harold Ballard. (Talk about your precursors.) Canada lost 2-1 in overtime to USA in the gold medal game, marking the first time ever – in six World Championships and Olympics – that Canada had not finished first.
Feb. 11, 1936: At the 1936 Winter Games in Germany, Canada lost 2-1 to a Great Britain team that had nine players who grew up playing hockey in Canada. The Canadians finished second, marking the first time they had not won Olympic gold.
March 15, 1963: In the World Championship in Stockholm, Canada lost 4-1 to Sweden, then was beaten 4-2 by the Soviet Union to finish out of the medals for the first time ever in a World Championship or Olympics in which it had participated.
Sept. 2, 1972: Playing in Game 1 of the Summit Series at the Montreal Forum, the best players in the NHL were pummeled 7-3 when the Soviets beat Canada. The game began an eight-game wake-up call to a country that had previously thought its best players could beat anyone on the globe.
April 21, 1982: Playing at the World Championship in Helsinki, Canada played to a 3-3 tie with Italy. Mama Mia! The Canadians did, however, redeem themselves by winning the bronze medal.
Jan. 4, 1987: Playing in the World Junior Championship in Piestany and leading the Soviet Union 4-2 midway through the game, Canada got involved in a brawl against the Soviets that resulted in both teams being kicked out of the tournament.
Jan. 4, 1992: This loss was so bad it was to a country that didn’t even previously exist. At the WJC in Fussen, Germany, a Canadian team that included Eric Lindros, Paul Kariya and Scott Niedermayer lost 7-2 to the Commonwealth of Independent States, a team that started the tournament as the Soviet Union. It led to a disappointing sixth-place finish.
Jan. 3, 1998: If there is going to be any dispute about the worst Canadian game ever, this one will provide the fodder. Playing in the WJC in Finland with a team that included Vincent Lecavalier, Matt Cooke and Roberto Luongo and a coaching staff that included Peter DeBoer, Canada closed out the tournament with a 6-3 loss which plummeted it to eighth place, its worst-ever showing in the tournament.