Series a super bore

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:36 PM ET

The Canada/Russia dog and pony show isn't a complete bust.

It has to be exciting for the players.

It's exciting for the fans who have shelled out hard earned ducats to attend a game. It is an event.

It's probably a pretty good opportunity to have a look at some of the best young junior players in the world.

And it probably makes money for Hockey Canada and the Canadian Hockey League because if it didn't, why else would they put it on?

But if you aren't playing, attending and judging or cashing in, wake me when the Canada/Russia Super Series is over.

On the thrill-o-meter it rates right up there with the world billiard trick shot championship and the enormously entertaining Five Pin Skins competition.

Organizers have tried to ratchet up the hysteria.

Television has led the way. They've put good broadcasts together. TSN and Rogers Sportsnet have shared the series and advertised the heck out of it. For a while, the buildup worked. There was a sense of anticipation and some curiosity.

That only lasted until the series actually began.

Since then, interest has been flaccid at best.

Organizers have tried to sell it as the reprise of the 1972 Canada/Soviet Summit Series.

Anyone who watched that harrowing, heart-stopping experience would have known long before this series that there was no way anything was going to replicate what happened 35 years ago.

It has garnered minimal coverage in cities where the games aren't being played. It's generated little discussion around the water cooler. And while television ratings can always be manipulated, I haven't yet run into someone who has said they have to be home to watch a game.

It's also interesting the four games played in Canada are all out west. There were centres in eastern Canada interested in taking a game, but not for the kind of financial guarantees Hockey Canada wanted. With no eastern cities biting, there isn't much buzz in this part of the country.

It hasn't helped that the Russians have been little more than scrimmage partners for the Canadians. After the first two games, the question was not about who was going to win the series, but rather if the Russians would even win a game.

There is a message in all this.

The day is pretty much done when the general public gives up time and money for meaningless exhibition games between nations.

It used to be a natural sell. Put Canada on the ice against any other nation and the interest in the game peaked. It was us against them. Our system against their system. It was a way to protect our hold on the only thing we hold sacred in this country, the game of hockey.

That no longer exists. There is no great mystery to how other nations play the game. There is no great secret to how they live. The 1972 Canada-Soviet Union series opened the door for all of this. That was when international hockey was a novelty.

Now there are almost as many international players playing in the NHL as Canadians. International team rosters are filled with NHL players. International competition exists at all age levels. It has become mundane.

What used to be the selling point for this kind of competition, a difference in style and the unknown, no longer exists.

There's only one way to sell this kind of competition. Make it worth something. It's why the world junior tournament works. It's why people still get excited about the world championship and Olympic Games. In the end, your country actually plays for something.

This is a case where less would be better.


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