Value of series questioned

The best battle in the Canada Russia Challenge may be taking place off the ice. cheap nfl jerseys The six game series already appears to be a mismatch on the ice and it’s not going to allow Hockey Canada chief scout Blair Mackasey to get a true read on Canadians for the world junior team.

An OHL all star team crushed an inferior Russian squad 7 1 Monday night at the John Labatt Centre.

“There’s always something to see, but when you look at it you have to realize what the competition is.”

The competition isn’t very good, which comes as a disappointment after it was felt there would be no better place to judge Canadian players than in an international arena, against the defending world junior champions although Mackasey said yesterday 85 per cent of Canada’s selection camp roster is set.

Russian coach Rafail Ishmatov said “maybe” one player from this team will be on his team in Helsinki for the junior championship.

Ishmatov said the better Russian juniors are all in the professional Super League.

That’s left Mackasey questioning the value of the series.

“I think the Canadian Hockey League may have jumped into this a bit too quickly before they realized how hard it would be to get a competitive team over here,” he said.

“They’re not very big, they’re not very fast, they’re not very skilled, and I’m saying that in context with what we’ve seen from other Russian teams.

“(And) I can’t say it’s a surprise. It would be like us taking a team to Europe in November and trying to get our best players. I don’t think there’ll be even one player on this team with the world junior team.”

After tonight, the series moves to the Quebec league for games in Halifax and Rimouski, then to the Western league for games in Calgary and Brandon, Man.

“A lot of people who have bought tickets might be disappointed and be very wary (about next year, if the series continues),” Mackasey said.

David Branch, president of the CHL and commissioner of the OHL, wasn’t impressed with Mackasey’s comments.

“It’s interesting because this concept was done in concert with Hockey Canada, and Blair Mackasey was a supporter of this concept when it first came up,” Branch said in London.

“Why he would be trying to distance himself at this point is unknown. I don’t think he represents fully the thoughts of Hockey Canada.”

Branch said the CHL and Hockey Canada set out to find ways to improve the national junior program following a silver medal in Halifax last January.

Russia beat Canada 3 2 in the final, leaving this country without a gold medal since 1997 in Switzerland.

“We went to Hockey Canada with this because we were all challenging ourselves what could we do differently in the overall process of the program to get the gold medal?” Branch said.

“This was embraced by everyone.”

Branch added: “Blair may have 85 per cent of the (selection camp) list in place in his mind, but there’s still room for a lot of movement.”

Branch said the Russians’ expenses will total $200,000 and after Game 1 said: “I don’t think it’s fair after one game to generalize to the extent you’re disappointed.”

Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson said from Calgary he’s prepared to give the series more time before passing judgment.

“I was hoping the Russians would be stronger but I don’t want to look too far down the line. It was something the CHL came up with and we looked at it and endorsed it.