U.S. world juniors spark controversy by incorporating prop in celebration

U.S. players celebrate a win over Canada in the championship game in the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, in Edmonton, Alberta. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP)
The United States upset Canada for gold at the world juniors and made sure its victory would be heard for a long time. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP)

It was a world junior championship without controversy. Nearly.

The United States’ on-ice celebration after dethroning Canada in the gold medal final with a near-perfect performance has left many hockey fans north of the border in a bit of a lather. Their beef: the U.S. players’ decision to incorporate what looked like a trash can with the Canadian logo taped to it into their celebration — even sliding it in for the team photo.

We are learning more and more about the significance of the trash can — or what the Americans prefer to call the “barrel.” The team’s star player and tournament MVP, Trevor Zegras, explained the barrels served as an elaborate metaphor for the Americans, who focused on taking it “one barrel at a time” throughout the course of the tournament in an effort to prioritize the task at hand, not what’s ahead.

Here’s the full explanation from one excited American:

While a little bizarre, certainly, Zegras’ story checks out. TSN’s Ryan Rishaug dug a little deeper into what’s being called “barrel-gate,” uncovering an internal email which serves as an explainer for the barrel metaphor. It’s a story about an effort to cross the Sahara Desert, and the oil drums used to mark checkpoints across the terrain.

It read: “All we had to do was steer toward the next oil barrel. As a result, we were able to cross the biggest desert in the world by simply taking it ‘one barrel at a time.’”

Hey, the story checks out. Perfectly. But are we supposed to believe the U.S. squad isn’t firing used tape and empty water bottles into that barrel?

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