Team Canada's winless start to the 2021 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship is highly surprising and is likely to have caused some discontent in the team's locker room, Doug Shedden, a leading ice hockey coach who has previously led the Canadian national team, told Sputnik in an interview
MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 26th May, 2021) Team Canada's winless start to the 2021 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship is highly surprising and is likely to have caused some discontent in the team's locker room, Doug Shedden, a leading ice hockey coach who has previously led the Canadian national team, told Sputnik in an interview.
Shedden, who has previously worked as an assistant coach for Team Canada at the IIHF World Championship and has also been head coach multiple times at the Spengler Cup, said that he was surprised at Canada's slow start to the tournament.
"Canada is not expected to go 0-3 to start the World Championships, so obviously, they're not a very happy group right now I'm sure," Shedden, who has coached ERC Ingolstadt in Germany's top-flight ice hockey league for the past three and a half seasons, said.
Team Canada last won gold at the IIHF World Championship back in 2016. At that tournament, which was held in the Russian cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, the Canadian roster contained the likes of Mark Stone, Taylor Hall, Brad Marchand, and Connor McDavid, all considered to be top players in the National Hockey League.
This time round, Canada's roster appears to lack star power, although the team features 20-goal Ottawa Senators forward Connor Brown, as well as promising young players such as Cole Perfetti and defenseman Owen Power, who is projected to be selected first overall in the upcoming 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
As part of efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 among players and staff, this year's IIHF World Championship is being held in a so-called bubble.
Games are being played behind closed doors, and teams are staying together in one hotel as players and staff undergo regular coronavirus testing, and Shedden said that this may have dissuaded some North American-based players from traveling to Latvia for the tournament.
"But what's the attitude of the players? I don't know, but after an NHL season, do they feel like going over to Europe and being put in a bubble again? I'm sure it's a tough situation for everyone," Shedden stated.
Shedden said that European teams have greater opportunities to come together as a unit throughout the winter hockey season, citing the four-team Euro Hockey Tour that sees the national teams of Russia, Sweden, Finland, and the Czech Republic play each other.
"Maybe Canada and the United States, they're putting a brand-new team together in the middle of April, whereas the Finns and the Swedes, maybe they have half the team still together [from the Euro Hockey Tour]," Shedden said, before adding that European national teams have also faced challenges in getting players over from the NHL.
Following the Washington Capitals' elimination from the Stanley Cup Playoffs this past week, it was announced that top defenseman Dmitry Orlov will be joining the Russian national team for the remainder of the tournament, along with St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko.
COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 2020 IIHF World Championship, and despite the continued spread of the disease, Shedden said that he was glad the governing body has managed to host the tournament this year.
"I'm glad they did hold it. Personally, I think it's important for our sport to have it, especially in Europe each year," he stated.
Despite this ruling, the country's health ministry, according to domestic media outlets, has warned that officials will likely have insufficient time to put the necessary infrastructure in place for this.
"The fans make the sport, the enthusiasm of the fans makes the sport, so playing in these empty arenas, I'm sure for the players it's getting a little tiring, because we know how great the World Championships are when you see all the Latvian fans together, the Finnish fans, the Russian fans, they just have so much fun cheering for their countries. That's what makes the World Championships so fun, is that atmosphere and what the fans bring," he said.