It turns out Edmontonians have better things to do in the middle of summer than watch some junior hockey.
Tuesday marked the first day of the 2022 World Juniors in Edmonton and it was headlined by a game between the United States and Germany, which was preceded by a Czechia-Slovakia matchup and a Latvia-Finland clash. Aside from the noticeable return of hockey on televisions nationwide, there was also something immediately apparent at all three of these Day 1 games.
No one was watching them in the arena.
Whether it was NHL scouts or players from other teams in the tournament being the largest contingent in the stands, it was clear that watching some hockey in the middle of an Alberta afternoon was just not preferable. Maybe Team Canada’s first game will draw a larger crowd, but the first glimpse of the arena for this mid-summer tournament does not look promising.
The IIHF didn't even bother listing the amount of spectators present, leaving that section blank in the game notes.
Perhaps the reason why the first crowds have been so limited is the awkward time of year the event is taking place. Due to a COVID outbreak during the regularly scheduled World Juniors last December, the tournament had to be cancelled and was later postponed to this time of year. Another factor could be the ongoing Hockey Canada scandal that is leaving many with a bad taste in their mouth regarding the state of the sport.
As with any televised sparse crowd, the taunts and rib-poking came out in full force on Tuesday.
Canada plays its first game of the tournament on Wednesday against Latvia at 4:00 p.m. local Edmonton time. We're not so sure people will be leaving work early to line up at the doors of Rogers Place for that matchup.
The World Juniors continue through the next couple of weeks, finishing on Aug. 20 with the gold-medal game.
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