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Kudos to Germany; Edmonton Oilers may benefit most from World Championships; key Leafs advance

While devoted Team Canada enthusiasts were pulling for Canada to overcome a very youthful (though talented) roster to make it to the final-four, from a Maple Leaf perspective things have worked out very well.

Sweden advances to the semis, which means more big-game experience for emerging defenseman Carl Gunnarrson and (likely) goaltender Jonas Gustavsson. While not (by all accounts) drop-dead brilliant, both have played well to this point and are poised to help their native country at least take home a medal.

Likewise, winger Nikolai Kulemin continues to quietly contribute to the Russian efforts. Kulemin was a +1 against Canada in the quarter-final today (Thursday) and has yet, unless I’m mistaken, been on the ice for an even-strength goal against and is now +6 for the tournament.

German’s advance to the semi-finals is stunning, and they deserve much credit for performing so well in front of their naturally boisterous and supportive home crowds. While players naturally get a boost in these circumstances, it can also go the other way because of the pressure they are under to impress the home fans.

It’s great for the game and for hockey internationally whenever more countries achieve success on this kind of stage and thus will be inspired to produce elite players. I’m trying to remember the name of the best-known German hockey player of my youth in the 1960s or ‘70s (Kuhnackel?). Maybe a reader can help on this one.

Surely not many people envisioned Canada emerging with the Gold medal this time around. Now, if Canada could keep this young talent together a year from now, maybe. But Russia had almost everyone at their disposal and healthy (they had all been knocked out of the NHL playoffs), and they should advance easily to the final.

Canada gave what they had but it wouldn’t be fair to expect much more than where they finished. That said, it will be interesting to see if this has any impact at all on Mark Messier –possibly the next GM of the Rangers- being involved in future Team Canada assignments.


The Edmonton Oilers brass may walk away with the most to gain after these World Championships. Jordan Eberle, while not imposing playing against men, nonetheless displayed some of the skill and savvy for Team Canada that made him an enormously successful junior player.

Meanwhile, it’s hard to miss young Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson (8 points, +7 so far in 7 games) along with Linus Omark (6 points), both soon to be signed by the Oilers. Both have stood out at the Worlds, and are gaining invaluable experience playing against some of the better players in the world.

Throw in Taylor Hall (how can the Oilers not pick Hall after what he continues to do in junior hockey, including once again at the Memorial Cup?) and the Oilers suddenly have a young nucleus that might just be the envy of many teams, including the similarly struggling Leafs.

Potential is one of those words that we all use, and often potential remains unfulfilled by young athletes. But at this moment, based on what I’m seeing of each of the four mentioned above, I’m thinking the Oilers have (or soon will) hit home runs in just about every case.


  1. > I’m trying to remember the name of the best-known German hockey player of my youth in the >1960s
    >or ‘70s (Kuhnackel?). Maybe a reader can help on this one.

    OK, this article is a bit dated, but maybe you are still interested in an answer. :-)
    His name is Erich Kühnhackl (you can also write Kuehnhackl if you dont have a >ü< on your keyboard).

    His son Tom Kühnhackl was drafted by the Penguins.