Oct 9, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; New York Rangers left wing Anthony Duclair (63) stretches during warmups before the game between the St. Louis Blues and the New York Rangers at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
18. The World Juniors Return
The last World Junior tournament held in Montreal was so long ago that players in this year’s edition were under five years old when the star of that tournament retired from the NHL.
Yes, Wayne Gretzky was the star of the 1978 World Junior Championship held at the Montreal Forum and when he retired in 1999, most of the players in the tournament this weekend weren’t even able to skate.
Since 1978, TSN has turned this tournament into a holiday tradition of early-morning wake ups when the tournament is overseas or New Year’s Eve drama when the tournament is in North America.
Ticket prices for Canada games were at par with tickets for Montreal Canadiens games. Ticket prices for other games were less, but still way above the expected value-to-price level.
For the casual fan (of which almost every hockey fan in Montreal is of junior hockey), it was too much money which is why all the non-Canada games in the tournament at the Bell Centre hover under the 10,000 mark.
I was lucky enough to go to four games in the tournament – three in the lower bowl, and two Canadian games – because I bought the tickets way below cost on StubHub.
For the price I bought two tickets to four games in the lower bowl for ($250), I could have gotten two tickets in the highest section of the Bell Centre for Canada-USA and Canada-Finland at face value.
If I’m not willing to pay that, and I love the World Juniors, what about the casual person? There are a lot of indictments on the Montreal hockey fans for not going to the games. But seriously, at that price, is it really our fault? When a family can’t afford to see Montreal Canadiens games, and these tickets are priced similarly, how can they afford this?
The World Juniors are not the NHL, and definitely not the Olympics. No matter how much TSN tries to convince us otherwise.
There are some great stories to come out of the World Juniors. Denmark – who are playing their games in Toronto – have become the darlings of the tournament.
Canadiens prospects Martin Reway and Jacob De La Rose are among the tournament’s leading scorers and Arturri Lehkonen has played well for an underachieving Finland team. Zach Fucale has put last year behind him while splitting the net with Eric Comrie.
And perhaps the greatest story of them all is the emergence of Anthony Duclair.
I was at the World Junior summer camp at Montreal’s Concordia University. At that game against the Czech Republic, Duclair scored two goals. At that point, he was still on the bubble whether he’d even make Team Canada.
Fast forward to NHL training camps and Duclair impressed everyone enough to make the team with the New York Rangers. From World Junior bubble to NHL player within a few months is impressive to say the least.
Duclair then getting released to Team Canada to play in the tournament in his hometown is just icing on the cake.
The World Juniors in Montreal in 2015 may be seen as a disappointment, but Hockey Canada still has a way to redeem itself in 2017. If ticket prices are not dropped, it could be even worse numbers next time around considering there would be no Canada group games in Montreal.
Next: No. 17: An Historic First