Jonathan Drouin challenges Saskatoon goalie Andrey Makarov (Steve Hiscock photo)
SASKATOON, Sask. — Isn't a pity / isn't it a shame / no one ever told the boys / the Memorial Cup / is an unfair game.
The Saskatoon Blades' win over the Halifax Mooseheads breathed new energy into the MasterCard Memorial Cup, creating the possibility of a second tournament in a row where there could be a four-way tie for first two-thirds of the way through the round-robin. It's great for galvanizing interest of the tournament; there was a bounce in Saskatoon's step on Monday. Yet at the same time, one is under no obligation, other than for the sake of going along to get along, to believe one win confers legitimacy. Buster Douglas kayoed Mike Tyson, too.
It's only relevant, though, when it comes to how the outcome of the event is regarded. For coaches and players, this is the business they have chosen.
"That's something we don't talk about inside," Mooseheads coach Dominique Ducharme said on Monday, after his team lost in regulation time for only the eighth time in 87 games and the world, remarkably, stayed on its axis. "That's for media or fans who talk about who should have won or who's winning, who should be going first or who should be going where in the draft. That's something we don't control. That's the way we've been thinking all year. We lost the game, it was against Saskatoon, and we're looking for a way to improve on the two games we've played.
"As far as I can see, we're still here," Duchame added. "I think maybe Saskatoon, because they lost in the first round [of the WHL playoffs], people make it a big deal. They were out for 51 days or whatever. I don't know what happened. I wasn't here when they lost in the playoffs. They prepared. They had 51 days to get ready. They're here, they're part of the tournament and they can play. If we play them again, it's going to be another battle."
Point being, though, how one evaluates the result should take into account the built-in advantages that come to the hosts. Don't take that as saying the Blades do not belong, but the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
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