In the aftermath of losing to the Russians, the lessons learned are:
1) cycles. It is the Russians turn as they have a very talented crop of Juniors, with a star returning from last year. Not the Americans turn as they collapsed, bringing into question their development model. Or maybe it will be the Swedes turn?
2) experience. Our team lacked experience, with not enough players returning from last year's team (it was only 4 players returning?) . After their earlier victories, Canada played an uncharacteristic 40 minutes under the pressure of our expectations. They proved the talent was there with an amazing comeback.
3) mental toughness. The old mental toughness of past winning teams, where players were structured, took abuse to win & did not whine about penalties, is gone as evidenced by a spearing penalty after a big hit & a poorly executed line change by defencemen permitting a breakaway goal.
Changes are required in our developmental model after losing gold for 2 years in a row, but commentators are quick to credit Hockey Canada's program for our success and are reluctant to critique.
Some suggestions are:
1) coaches. It seems to me our opposition keep their coaches in place for a longer term. A veteran like Don Hay should coach the team for a least 3 years, with an assistant as well, and another who changes yearly.
2) building teams. Where are the range of ages of players on the team? Let's build on the 16 & 17 year old kids & bring them back next year, like we did before. All the 18 & 19 year old kids do not necessarily have to be future NHL stars, just experienced competitors.
3) experience. Can we still compete by bringing the team together just for this event? It is asking for a lot, but with the competition, there is no choice but to arrange a few pre-event exhibition games for our national junior team. Why not have them play a few games over a weekend against a good university team, an AHL team, a touring Swedish team?
If we don't create well coached teams with experience, then we can't be disappointed with a collapse in the first forty or the last twenty minutes of a championship game.