Some sports seem to have a natural home. Soccer in Brazil, rugby in New Zealand, cricket in India. And Canada’s game? Why hockey, of course.
But it wasn’t always that way. By 1982, the Soviets had won every World Junior Hockey Championship except one, while Canada had earned only a single bronze medal.
And then Hockey Canada launched the Programme of Excellence, a national development system designed to help put together teams that would be able to square off against the Soviets. The result was immediate. To everyone’s surprise, when Canada took gold in 1982 the American hosts didn’t even have a copy of “O Canada” to play during the championship ceremony. But after that, no one would be surprised by a Canadian win.
This Boxing Day will mark the thirtieth anniversary of the program that brought hockey fans many glorious memories and made household names of several of our players. Richly illustrated, Thirty Years of the Game at Its Best takes readers on a year-by-year retrospective, with each tournament’s story told from the perspectives of the players, coaches, and journalists who were there.
This book is an extraordinary keepsake, published just in time for the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championships. Contributors include Mike Babcock, Brendan Bell, Murray Costello, Damien Cox, Sheldon Ferguson, Gare Joyce, Terry Koshan, Roy MacGregor, Steven Milton, Frank Orr, Donna Spencer, Jesse Wallin, Tim Wharnsby and Ed Willes.