Did you watch last night’s gold medal game between Canada and Russia? Unless you’re from anywhere other than the Great White North the answer, between sobs, is presumably, a very hushed ‘yes’.

For the rest of you reading a hockey blog but not following the world junior championship game (does that even make sense?) here’s what happened.

Canada was leading 3-0 after 40 minutes. They were hitting the Russians. They were getting pucks deep. They were playing with urgency.

And after the third period was all said and done the score board showed 5-3 for the bad guys.

So what happened?

Well part of it has to do with the nature of the game. With such a fast-paced high-flying opponent there is always the possibility of quick goals. And in bunches.

The Russians had already demonstrated their ability to come back from deficits late in games to get this far.

So what did Canada do wrong?

They stopped hitting. They didn’t get pucks deep. They let their foot off the throat of the Russians long enough for them to get a goal and a little life.

And once the Russians got on track it seemed as though the Canadians couldn’t do what they were having success with through the first 2 periods.

If back to back losses in the gold medal game wasn’t enough the Russians accepted the championship trophy and skated it right by the Canadian team. A little salt on the wound. We’ll see how the returning players use that as motivation the next time they face each other.

But if you think this loss is bad there is something else that I think is a problem for Canadian hockey as well. And this has to do with the marketing that was going on during the tournament.

I’m talking about all the ads from a sports beverage and athletic apparel company.

What’s the big deal with these ads? Nothing really. In fact they are creatively crafted and do a great job of getting their brand and message out there.

The problem is that they play up the importance of using sports beverages and recovery drinks. They show players doing sprints, and jumps, and hurdles and shuttles and a variety of other drills used for training hockey players.

And this is the problem.

Most players aren’t ready for these drills.

Most players have compensations and deficiencies that should be addressed.

Most players don’t eat enough quality whole foods nor do they drink enough water.

And most players don’t recognize when they should do these drills. How much they should do? If they should take a supplement and if so, how much and when?

In fact the ad right after the game showed a clip of Canada losing and the Russians celebrating with the caption ‘tomorrow starts today’.

Really? As a s&c specialist I don’t necessarily want the hockey players we work with to be doing these drills in-season before a big game.

When it comes right down to it the young kids across Canada are watching their heroes. They pretend to be these players when they play shinny or road hockey. They’ll buy their jerseys and tickets to their games when they move on to the NHL.

And so whose advice do you think they may be likely to follow? A science guy who does his best to learn the safest, fastest ways to develop the athleticism needed for a long successful career in hockey?

Or the message that comes in the form of flashy ad from a multi-national corporation?

Sadly, we see the evidence all around us in rinks, schools and gyms daily.

So what is the solution?

We need to get back to the basics. We need the young kids to realize their idols got to where they are by eating fresh quality food, by doing all the pre-requisite gym work and by getting adequate rest every night.

Because if they don’t see through the hype and believe they can become like the players in the ads because of their shoes or what’s in their water bottle,  we will have a nation of young hockey players on the fast track to over reaching, over training, burnout, injury and disappointment.

Will the young Canadian hockey player be influenced by all this hype and marketing?

If they are, and they’re not ready for it,  it could all get a whole lot worse for Canadian hockey.


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