All signs point to a Canadian junior victory

JIM HUNT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:02 PM ET

Some Tuesday morning musings on some of the things that amuse, confuse and even amaze a fellow in the wonderful world of fun and games. CANADA VS. RUSSIA

Sure it would have been great for Canada's juniors to get another shot at the Americans who beat us out of a gold medal last year. But the Russians proved by beating the Yanks on Sunday that they are a worthy opponent.

Why TSN didn't show the game beats me. They opted for a meaningless NFL game between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.

But the Russians are a tough opponent for Team Canada. So far the Canadians have breezed through their five games. If they play as well as they have, they should win. But stranger things happen when Canada plays Russia. A hot goaltender could make the difference. Canada has now advanced to the final four years in a row and lost each time. This may well be the best team we've sent to the championship. Tonight they prove it or else.

'PEG FANS THE JUNIOR STARS

There have been a lot of young Canadians who have distinguished themselves in the tournament.

For my money the real stars are the fans from Winnipeg who drove though a blizzard for the game against Finland on Thursday.

They were warned to stay home but they didn't pay any attention. They had to spend the night in Grand Forks, N.D., in temporary shelters because the roads were closed. That didn't dampen their enthusiasm. Without the support of fans from Winnipeg this tournament would have laid a financial egg.

Few if any places in Canada love hockey as much as they do in Winnipeg. The Jets moved to Phoenix and became the Coyotes. Wayne Gretzky won't admit it but the Coyotes are reported to be in trouble, but then I didn't expect he would. But if he's honest, Gretzky knows the team would get more support in Winnipeg than Phoenix.

BILLS BLEW IT

Quarterback Drew Bledsoe said it all about the way his Buffalo Bills folded Sunday. "We didn't deserve to be in the playoffs," Bledsoe said after the Bills were beaten by Pittsburgh. The Steelers used their second stringers for most of the second half but they were still better than the Bills.

SOME FINAL THOUGHTS

If there wasn't a lockout NBC would have been about to launch its hockey telecasts. It's a TV deal where the league isn't guaranteed any amount of money. As long as the lockout continues, the owners won't find out what a terrible deal it is ... With the long-awaited trade of Randy Johnson to New York finally approved by Major League Baseball, the Yankees payroll will pass $200 million US. It'll cost George Steinbrenner more in luxury taxes than the entire payroll of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.


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