Worldstars embarrassing!

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

LINKOPING, Sweden -- When does a touring team cross the line from being a hockey exhibition to an embarrassment?

Here. Last night.

The president of Linkoping HC says the Worldstars and his own club put on the worst exhibition of hockey ever witnessed on the biggest barnstorming tour in hockey history.

"It's embarrassing. Truly. I'm sorry to say it," said Mike Helber in the press box at the end of the second period of a 6-4 win by the team which sits second in the 12-team Swedish Elite League.

"It's sad 5,000 people paid for tickets to see this."

After playing six games in seven nights, the Worldstars had Saturday night off in Stockholm. Most of the players left their legs in the big city.

"It's both teams," said Helber.

"Our guys are also going around acting like they are on vacation," said Helber.

"It's sad for 5,000 fans that this is what they have to see," he reiterated. "It's not just them, it's our players, too. I don't have a problem that they don't hit in a game like this, but you expect them to skate, to move their legs. I understand the situation. They're pros. They do what they want to do. It's just sad for the 5,000 fans who came to see this."

This one, as anyone who paid to watch it on pay TV back home could see, was an absolutely awful exhibition of exhibition hockey.

But, despite the fact Mats Sundin was the poster boy for the performance -- and had nothing to show the fans of his native land -- it must be said the game ended with the fans giving both teams a standing ovation, despite the shabby show.

RESPONDS TO THE CHARGES

J. P. Barry, of tour organizing IMG, was quick to respond to the charges of the Linkoping team president.

"It was really a one-goal game," he said of the tedious tilt, which ended with an empty-net goal.

"I'd like to see their players travel like this team has had to travel on this trip. The game did start out with a slow pace. Our guys have played eight games in 11 nights. But we outshot them 13-6 in the third period.

"Mats Sundin and 10 of our players climbed on a bus at 9 a.m. to be here for an 11 a.m family skate appearance. I have problems with him calling it embarrassing when our players are up at 8:30 a.m. in Stockholm to attend a family skate in his city."

Rhett Warrener wonders what Helber was hoping to watch.

"Did he expect a Stanley Cup final?" said the Calgary Flame, who played in the seven-game final series last season against Tampa Bay.

But it does somehow say something when Tie Domi is your best player.

"Two goals and an assist," said Domi.

Mattias Nordstrom and Anson Carter scored then other two Worldstar goals.

Worldstar Robyn Regehr said his 10th game in a 14-day trip to seven countries is half about hockey and half about having an experience.

"With this schedule, you want to be able to get through it and still go out and have some fun. And a team like Linkoping doesn't want to get injured in a game like this. But that was a pretty slow game. He's got a bit of a point," he said of Helber's quotes.

IT WAS KIND OF FUNNY

Martin Brodeur, who played really well in goal in his half of the game, admitted it wasn't exactly the World Cup of Hockey out there.

"It was kind of funny we were able to stay with them" he said.

The Canadian national team netminder, who inspired the tour, said all their travel and all the games have kind of built up on this team.

"It's stupid, " he said of the schedule.

As for Saturday night in Stockholm?

"Blame Mats," he laughed.

Brendan Morrison, the Vancouver Canuck who's the No. 3 scorer in the Swedish League this lockout season, says his Linkoping team knows what was involved in this game.

"Those guys have done a lot of travelling. They look a little worn out.

"We didn't want to get into a situation where one team is not fully into it and the other team is flying around.

"Sometimes that's when injuries occur.

"We understood what we were getting into. I think it was a fun game. The fans got to see some nice goals."

Informed his president called the exhibition an embarrassment, Morrison didn't disagree.

"I guess there was that angle, too. I hope people aren't disappointed. I hope they knew they wouldn't see a playoff-style game. Guys will be a little cautious out there. But tonight, overly cautious might be the word."

Embarrassing is also a word.

It was embarrassing.


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