Professional pundits and amateur aficionados alike have a lot to say about Canada’s teenagers, who were defeated by Finland in the World Junior Hockey Championships at the weekend. There is a great amount of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth; fingers are pointed at individual players, coaches and team officials in what has been called a humiliating exit — among other things — from the annual tournament. Maybe those who are so disheartened and distraught should remember what happened a century ago when young Canadians, many the same age as the members of the defeated team and some just a little older, were sent to Europe.
That was back when hockey was a game to be enjoyed on frozen ponds, and not the huge cash cow it is today; it was also the midst of the Great War when, according to figures from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Canada enlisted over 619,000 young men to join its armed forces. Over 418,000 were sent overseas to fight on behalf of King George V of England, whose country had declared war with his first cousin Kaiser Wilhelm II — whose Germany had just declared war on another first cousin Czar Nicholas II of Russia. Anyone who really doubts that monarchs of Europe are descended from a Dysfunctional Dynasty, must surely check their history books. Over 66,000 young Canadians lost their lives during those dreadful four years in Europe’s Killing Fields, and another 173,000 were wounded. Maybe hockey fans should check these sobering figures, and the weekend loss in Europe will be put into an entirely different perspective, lest we forget.