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Team Canada made history at the IIHF World Championships on Thursday.
Really, really lousy history: For the first time, the Canadians have been eliminated in the tournament quarterfinals in three consecutive years.
In the previous two years, the culprit was Russia. In 2012, it was Slovakia pulling the first-round upset with a 4-3 victory, on Michal Handzus's goal with 2:32 left in regulation.
It was a power-play goal, scored five seconds into Ryan Getzlaf's 5-minute major for kneeing Slovak forward Juraj Mikus.
Which, by the looks of it, probably shouldn't have been a major:
"He jumped inside on me," Getzlaf explained. "He's a smaller guy. All I tried to do was get a piece of him with my shoulder, which I did. It's a sick way to lose; it's a tough pill to swallow. It hurts. It hurts like hell right now. To lose in that fashion is not easy to swallow. The guys worked way too hard to be delivered something like that."
Now comes the suddenly annual debate about why the Canadians didn't advance past the first round.
Over on Yahoo! Sports Canada's The Eh Game, Neate Sager analyzed Canada's latest tournament shortfall:
Before anyone goes into a panic about what this means for Canada's chances at the Olympics in two years, presuming the NHLers play in Sochi, some perspective needs to be shared. The same goes for the position that this really doesn't matter, that's it's just one of those upsets. Ryan Getzlaf took a major penalty in the final three minutes, Slovakia scored off the ensuing faceoff; move along, nothing to see here.
It is tough to buy the latter argument, though, when you look at the bigger picture. Three consecutive years without making the medal round is glaring for a country that claims to be the best at the sport.
More to the point, the result validates questions of why Hockey Canada turned the team over to executives of the perpetually rebuilding Edmonton Oilers. Well before the event, hockey bloggers such as Tyler Dellow argued that if Canada was serious about winning, Team Canada GM and Oilers president Kevin Lowe would not have put 18-year-old NHL draft prospect Ryan Murray on the roster ahead of a seasoned NHLer. Murray made for a good story, but normally only smaller nations with a lack of depth have to use a junior-aged player in the worlds.