If you’re Canadian, this year’s World Juniors were heartbreaking for you.
With huge expectations for Team Canada, they were expected to challenge for gold at this year’s tournament in Vancouver and Victoria. Unfortunately, Canada saw defeat in the quarter finals against Finland (who eventually went on to win the gold medal) and failed to even qualify for a medal for the first time ever on their home turf. The worst part? Canadian defenseman Noah Dobson could have very well ended the game in overtime. He had a wide open next and went for a one timer, and his stick broke on the shot attempt. Finland would promptly regain possession of the puck, take it back the other way, and score to seal the deal. To add salt to the wound, Canadian captain Maxime Comtois had a chance to win it for Canada on a penalty shot, but missed as well.
The humiliation wouldn’t end there for the Canadians however. After the game, disgruntled Canadian hockey fans took to Maxime Comtois’ Instagram account and left hateful comments on most of his recent posts. Saying everything from how he was a joke of a captain, to how he was a garbage player, he even received death threats a couple of times.
Now, as a hockey fan, I understand better than anyone what hockey can do to your emotions during such a highly anticipated game like this one. Hell, when I was 13 I watched the infamous game seven against Boston in the 2013 Quarter Finals and broke blood vessels on my eyelids from screaming so much when Boston completed the comeback in overtime. I get it. Hockey messes with your emotions when you’re in the moment.
But this doesn’t serve as justification to what fans left on Comtois’ social media. Not even close.
If you played hockey growing up, you more than likely had at least one game that you’d like to forget. Whether it was losing in the finals of a tournament, or doing something embarrassing during the game, or making a costly mistake that ended up losing your team the game. This is exactly what Comtois was feeling in the quarter-final. The spotlight was on him when he went to take that penalty shot, and he missed. He was probably feeling awful about it, and then fuel was added to the fire when Finland eventually won. There were also reports that he played through the tournament with a separated shoulder.
So do you really think he would have been happy to read hundreds of explicit comments about him while he’s already down about the game? No.
Kids Representing Their Country
The worst part about all of this is the fact that when you look past the skill level, the media coverage, and the pressure of the World Juniors, in the end these are all kids living their dream. Representing their country and playing the game they dreamed of playing for a living in their youth. They’re humans with feelings too. Just because they’re playing a high level of hockey and would eventually make good money out of it, it doesn’t mean they aren’t fazed by anything fans have to say.
If you’ve spent a good chunk of your life sitting on the couch and watching hockey and doing nothing but spectating, then you don’t have a right to ruthlessly rip into kids playing the game they love. Mistakes happen. Criticism is allowed. Nobody is saying that everybody has to pretend that Canada’s tournament was full of sunshine and rainbows. But if you think it’s acceptable to tear them apart and fire way out of line insults at them while they’re already down, then you’re doing a massive disgrace to hockey fans everywhere.
I’m not sure if this came off as more of a rant rather than an article, but I had to get it out.
featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler