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Posted at 2:18 PM ET, 12/28/2010

The WJCs are better than the Olympics

By Ryan Cooper

After the Olympics this year, the debate began again over whether the pros would go back to the Games in 2014. Lost in all the debate was the fact that we already have a tournament played every year that I find is far superior to the Olympic tournament, the U-20 World Junior Tournament (held this year in Buffalo).

Much like in the same way I find college football to be superior to the NFL brand, what makes the WJCs exciting is that there’s still room for domination. There’s still enough separation between the athletes at that level that some really exciting plays can happen. As skilled as the pros can be, there’s almost too much skill at their level, and everything is determined by matchups (“how can I get this guy matched up against this guy”), instead of an athlete taking over a game on pure ability. There’s still something magical about watching that happen, and you rarely get that at the pro level.

The excitement level of the crowds, particularly the Canadian contingent, has been unbelievable the last few years as well. It's everything I love about a sports crowd. Loud, organic, spontaneous, knowledgeable, which is something that almost never happens in the current day and age of the corporate fan. You could hear them literally explode Sunday during the Canada/Russia matchup whenever something positive happened for their team.

Above all else, what makes the WJCs superior to the Olympics is discovery. It’s about watching Alex Ovechkin and Mike Richards become mortal enemies. It’s about watching John Carlson “quieting an entire nation” (and becoming part of the most awesome chant ever). It’s about watching Jacob Markstrom flop like a fish, and some of the best hockey games I’ve ever seen (every USA/Canada matchup the last few years).

I know what I have with Crosby, and Ovechkin and Lidstrom. I don’t know what I have with Marcus Foligno and Sean Couturier and Patrick Wey, among others. And I know if the NHL decides to take 2014 off, I won’t miss them in the Olympics at all, because I’ve got a far superior international tournament every single year to watch.

So please, do yourself a favor as a Caps fan (lots of prospects in the tourney ) and as a sports fan and check out the tournament. The NHL Network is carrying every USA and Canada game. It’s a great chance to discover for yourself how truly wonderful this game can be at a grassroots level.

By Ryan Cooper  | December 28, 2010; 2:18 PM ET
Categories:  Capitals, Ryan Cooper  | Tags:  Capitals, Ryan Cooper  
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Comments

Very true

Posted by: GFisher1 | December 28, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I loved seeing John Carlson play last year because it was a nice preview of what we could expect here. I think it's a great experience for the boys, and I especially enjoy the fact that I don't have to wait four years to see the event.

That being said, I do hope the guys get to play in the Olympics.

Posted by: Violetta55 | December 28, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

As far as the hockey is concerned, I couldn't agree more. I wore out my thumb last night flipping between the Caps/Habs and USA/Czech Republic games (DirectTV double-play is a must have).

However, I've just about completely soured on NCAA BCS football. Everyone associated with coaching and management at the BCS level is making gobs of money. Not the players, though. And if they sell a jersey, they get whacked by the NCAA goons. Very hypocritical system.

Posted by: prestoj | December 29, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

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