COLUMN: World junior nostalgia also pairs well with tangible benefit

COLUMN: World junior nostalgia also pairs well with tangible benefit

“Christmas time is about Santa Claus, being around family and people you love and World Junior time, it truly is.”

That was long-time Red Deer Rebels bench boss Brent Sutter Thursday and he was among many who expressed a similar relationship between the World Junior Hockey Championships and the holidays.

You know you are around a hockey-obsessed crowd when jolly Ol’ Saint Nick is on even footing with a hockey tournament.

Yet to many Canadians, there is a memory of the World Junior Hockey Championships that not only stands out but is etched in our collective identity.

That is what hockey in this country seems to do in one way or another and especially when you are together with family, friends around the holidays.

My earliest memory of watching the tournament was with my late grandpa, waking up at an ungodly hour to watch his favourite player, Joe Thornton play in the 1997 World Juniors in Switzerland.

Thornton was a Sault St. Marie Greyhounds player, the team my grandpa had season tickets for. He spent the entire tournament telling me how great Thornton was and what it was like watching him live. At that point, hockey was my life and I wanted to be just like Joe.

Unfortunately, I never was.

Walking around the Centrium or playing pickup hockey in Red Deer, without fail someone mentions the 1995 World Juniors and how full the building was. twenty-six years later, people still remember it like it was yesterday.

I’m sure kids in Sylvan Lake have their own moment when local product Tyler Steenbergen played hero with the gold medal game-winning goal. He scored with just a minute and 40 seconds remaining in the game. There is no doubt kids are on the outdoor rink or in their driveway pretending to be Steenbergen in that moment.

Hockey just tugs at our heartstrings in Canada– whether we want it to or not. We love to show the world that at this one game, we’re the best. It doesn’t happen often in many sports, so we take the World Junior Championships as a point of pride.

The emotional connection is all well and good and most hockey fans feel it. Still, the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships coming to Red Deer and Edmonton in 2021 is about one thing: money.

Early indications predict the tournament will bring in as much as $50 million into the local economy. That’s huge money.

While the Hlinka Gretzky Cup wasn’t a complete home run in terms of attendance, the world juniors are a different beast altogether. Most people are off work from the day the tournament starts on boxing day, until it ends just a few days after new year’s day.

Whether it’s money or a hockey legacy that tickles your fancy, the announcement of the world juniors coming to Red Deer in 2021 is a jolt to an already busy list of upcoming sports events in Central Alberta.



Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Pumpjacks draw oil out of the ground near Olds, Alta., Thursday, July 16, 2020. A new report suggests the economic impact of the pandemic led to a massive increase in federal aid to Canada's oil patch. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta economy ‘still reeling,’ says ATB Financial

Alberta’s economy is still feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and… Continue reading

Ella Stoner, five, is ready to cut off her hair and donate it to A Child’s Voice Foundation. (Photo by Lauren Stoner Photography)
Central Alberta girl to donate her ‘princess hair’ to A Child’s Voice Foundation

A five-year-old girl from Rimbey has never had a haircut before. Now,… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta adds 1,195 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Red Deer has dropped to 760 active cases

Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr
Central Alberta MLAs comment on UCP members kicked out of caucus

A pair of central Alberta MLAs have commented on the two United… Continue reading

Contributed photo
Johanna Hannaford: Central Alberta designer offers inclusive clothing

By Stephanie Rhodes Local designer Johanna Hannaford’s inclusive clothing creations are smashing… Continue reading

Conservative MP Ron Liepert rises during Question Period on Parliament Hill, Friday, March 10, 2017 in Ottawa. Ron Liepert says these days, the phone calls and emails from people wanting to talk about his party's climate plan have slowed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Alberta MP pitches Conservative carbon price with a 24-pack of Pilsner

OTTAWA — Ron Liepert says these days, the phone calls and emails… Continue reading

A sign marks Stairs Place in the Hydrostone district in the North end of Halifax on Thursday, May 13, 2021. The street was named for William Grant Stairs, a Canadian explorer from Halifax who helped lead some of the most controversial expeditions through the African continent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Where the streets have explorers’ names, some Halifax residents call for change

HALIFAX — When builders created Halifax’s distinctive Hydrostone neighbourhood more than a… Continue reading

Riley Oldford, 16, suffers from cerebral palsy. He was the first youth in the Northwest Territories to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Here he receives the needle from nurse practitioner Janie Neudorf in Yellowknife on Thursday May 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bill Braden
People with disabilities even more alone during pandemic: cerebral palsy spokeswoman

YELLOWKNIFE — Riley Oldford is usually out playing sledge hockey or hanging… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Zack MacEwen (71), Travis Boyd (72) and Jimmy Vesey (24) celebrate a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during third period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 15, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Big third period lifts Vancouver Canucks to 4-1 victory over Edmonton Oilers

Canucks 4 Oilers 1 EDMONTON — Matthew Highmore scored twice in the… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Canada’s vaccine rollout operation won’t miss a beat with new military leader: expert

DARTMOUTH — The sudden departure of the senior military officer in charge… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Quebec premier argues province has power to amend constitution in letter to Trudeau

MONTREAL — Quebec Premier François Legault has written a letter to Prime… Continue reading

A demonstrator stands in front of riot police officers during a banned protest in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in Paris, Saturday, May, 15, 2021. Marches in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were being held Saturday in a dozen French cities, but the focus was on Paris where riot police countered organizers who said they would defy a ban on the protest, ordered on the grounds that it risked turning violent. (AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh)
Police fire tear gas on banned Palestinian march in Paris

PARIS (AP) — French riot police fired tear gas and used water… Continue reading

Photo by The Associated Press
NYC Pride parade bans police; Gay officers ‘disheartened’

NEW YORK (AP) — Organizers of New York City’s Pride events said… Continue reading

Most Read