After the 2022 World Junior Championship was cancelled due to the emergence of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, we’re getting some new updates of a potential restart of the tournament come this summer. The Athletic’s Corey Pronman reports that the tournament will remain in Alberta and a full restart to the tournament will happen.
In addition, the teams will have the option to pick new teams, giving other players an opportunity to join the roster.
IIHF president Luc Tardif confirmed that it will be a “new tournament” as it will take place after the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. This is months after the IIHF and organizers were heavily criticized for the way things were handled during the tournament, leading up to the cancellation. There’s even more good news as the Women’s U18 Championship was also rescheduled for June with a host city to be named later.
Completed Games Will be Replayed
The first bit of news that Pronman reports is the tournament will be a complete restart as the the games that have already been played will not count. As teams had to forfeit games early on, it does make sense for there to be a full on tournament restart. It gives everyone a fair shot from the very beginning and everyone on the teams involved is healthy and ready to go.
Another option could’ve been to keep the results of the games played and replay the ones that were forfeited as they were bound to be rescheduled. It still gives the teams a chance to play the games that would’ve been completed just at a different date. However, for the sake of the integrity and competitive nature of the tournament, a full restart is the right decision.
Team’s Can Adjust Roster
When the news broke of the tournament being postponed, I made it a point that whoever was on the roster for this tournament should have the chance to be a part of it when things resume, even if they’re over the age limit. We got to see star players like Matthew Beniers on Team USA, Alexander Holtz and Jesper Wallstedt on Team Sweden and high-end talent eligible for the 2022 NHL draft. They were named to the team for a reason and they should still be allowed to compete.
The Hockey News’ Tony Ferrari also brought up that players may not return as they may be preparing for the NHL season. While some may not be allowed to attend, it does provide the chance for those who may have missed out join the tournament.
It’s great for players who we left off the team to get a second shot at cracking the roster. As an example, Team Canada didn’t invite Barrie Colts defenseman Brandt Clarke or Flint Firebirds forward Brennan Othmann. Clarke remains the top scoring defender in the Ontario Hockey League, while Othmann is second in the OHL with 32 goals. Based on their production alone, they should be the first to get an invite.
There’s also the notion that, even if teams keep their roster in tact and decide to replace a player, it doesn’t seem fair for a player who initially made the roster to potentially get cut. It’s most likely that the rosters should be kept as is, unless players decide to not participate.
The Show Goes On
As difficult as it was to see the tournament get cancelled, it was the right decision to postpone it. It provided some hope as there was the potential for things to get back to some sort of normalcy. The expectation was always that the tournament would return at a later date. Once again, the players and coaches get to participate in the biggest junior hockey tournament.
All Your THW 2022 World Junior Championship Coverage
Peter is in his third year with The Hockey Writers, covering the Toronto Maple Leafs and heading the Draft and Prospects section. He has previously interned at The Hockey News and worked on Toronto Marlies broadcasts for Rogers TV. He currently is the co-host of the podcast Sticks in the 6ix and a frequent guest on Maple Leafs Lounge. Aside from hockey, he also enjoys drumming, animation and impressions/ voices.