Like most of Canada this time of year, I was watching Canada/Czech Republic at the World Junior Hockey Championship from Buffalo last night on TSN. For the second game in a row, Team Canada started in a bit of a sleepwalking mode and surrendered an early goal. Also for the second game in a row though, the young men on this team (to their credit) sucked it up and stormed back to dominate the game. By the end of the first, though the score was only 2-1 for Canada, it was clear that this game was going to be a rout; in the final half of the period, long stretches of play had unfolded without respite in the Czech Republic’s zone. It was only a matter of time before the Canucks lit the lamp a few more times, and the Czechs were showing no signs of any offensive spark.
That is indeed how the game unfolded, with Canada cruising to a 7-2 win. So dominant were the Canadians in this game that it became a bit of a dud as far as entertainment value goes; with the result never really in doubt after the first ten minutes, there wasn’t much to keep a viewer glued to the tube in this one.
What little excitement there was ended up being provided by Zack Kassian’s second period hit on Petr Senkerik. Specifically, the excitement arose from the fact that Kassian hit Senkerik in the head (not to mention rather late). Kassian’s bodycheck appeared to knock the Czech forward unconscious. He was removed from the ice on a stretcher, and Kassian was assessed a five minute major penalty and a game misconduct.
Now, I have watched this tournament and cheered for Team Canada every holiday season for as long as I can remember. I want Canada to reclaim the gold medal pilfered from us last year by a plucky American squad. I have nothing against Zack Kassian.
But Kassian’s hit on Senkerik was a blow to the head. I saw it. The referees saw it. Probably something like 4 million Canadians saw it. For some reason, though, TSN analyst and notorious loudmouth Pierre McGuire either didn’t or wouldn’t see it. Almost immediately following the play, he began braying that Kassian was being penalized unjustly. As he did so, TSN’s own replay clearly showed – from two angles – that McGuire was wrong. It is not possible that he failed to see these replays, which were shown numerous times by the network. Having noisily and publicly committed himself to a differing version of reality, however, the obnoxious McGuire continued to assert something that was, and is, obviously not true: that Kassian had hit Senkerik in the chest with his shoulder. To my eyes and ears, McGuire came off as stubborn and ridiculous as he repeatedly decried- and I do mean repeatedly, no horse being too bereft of life for Mr. McGuire to administer yet another beating – the inequities visited upon Kassian by the presiding officials. Silly and annoying, but mostly harmless.
Where McGuire took things to another level was during his post-game analysis as part of TSN’s panel. Unsurprisingly, the stubborn McGuire clung to his misguided version of events; incredibly, however, he actually claimed that the impact was caused by Senkerik’s failure to properly secure the chinstrap on his helmet. It was good of TSN’s Bob McKenzie to gently, if only implicitly, chide McGuire at the outset of the panel segment (McKenzie claimed that when he first saw the clip, he thought Kassian had struck Senkerik’s chest, but that after reviewing the clip again, he had begun to believe it was a head shot), but someone on the panel, either moderator James Duthie or McKenzie himself, ought to have called McGuire on the ridiculous assertion that Senkerik’s loose-fitting headgear was responsible for the impact. McGuire’s assessment of these events makes about as much sense as a person believing that John F. Kennedy would have fared better that fateful day in Dallas if only he had been wearing more sturdy footwear.
Nobody on TSN called McGuire on his ridiculous blabber; HiR:tb’s elves in the A.V. department, however, took a wee break from chug-a-lugging egg nog and sleeping under their desks to bring you the following video summary of the incident: