Dallas Stars Daily Links: The Long And Winding Road To The 2021 World Juniors

The hottest prospects from 10 nations had to prevail over both roster cuts and COVID tests. Plus, a Stars holiday giveaway, a countdown to NHL action, and more.

In the midst of a pandemic that has ravaged national teams and played hell with international travel, it’s a kind of a miracle that the 2021 World Junior Championships will happen at all.

Pulling together the world’s most prestigious junior tournament is a big challenge even in a good year. In late 2020, with COVID-19 raging largely uncontrolled in several of its constituent nations, the hurdles are even higher.

It helps, no doubt, that Edmonton is this year’s co-host, along with Red Deer. The province of Alberta provided the Western Conference bubble that gave the NHL an improbably successful Stanley Cup Playoffs stage earlier this year. And it’s heartening to note that since they’ve entered the Western Canada bubble, there are no new cases of COVID among players on any of the 10 participating teams.

But individual squads still have to fight the viral threat in their own way. Martin Merk shared some of the details in a story for the International Ice Hockey Federation website:

During the camps on home ice the ten teams already have their first big battle – against the coronavirus. Several players will miss the World Juniors due to Covid-19 infections.

Canada was the first country to start with the selection camp already in November with a large roster to choose from but saw the ice time shortened due to positive Covid-19 tests. The team and staff were in self-isolation for two weeks and re-opened the camp on 8 December. Defencemen Matthew Robertson, Mason Millman and Daemon Hunt and forwards Ridly Greig and Xavier Simoneau were sent home before camp resumed for health reasons and according to the return-to-play protocol.

Dual citizen and Dallas Stars defense prospect Thomas Harley will skate for a loaded Team Canada in the tournament, which will open – on time and on schedule, as it were – on Christmas Day. He’ll play alongside some of the hottest NHL prospects anywhere, including second and third overall picks Quinton Byfield and Kirby Dach. Harley, whose season with the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads is on COVID-related hold until January 23, talked about the outsized impact of training for a pre-tournament round with Russia during a post-practice media call:

“It’s huge. Our practices lately have been pretty intense. We’re trying to get them as game-like as possible, but, you know, nothing compares to the game, especially with a team like the Russians. They’re real fast, real smart, real skilled.

“So hopefully we can get our feet under us in the first and, you know, just remember how to play hockey in the second and third.”

If you plan to spend some holiday downtime watching some quality hockey, the NHL Network is broadcasting every game live. Here are a few links to get you started:

Stars Stuff

John Klingberg is ready for hockey. Some of you might be, too.

TXU Energy sponsors the Stars’ Power Play, and now it’s sharing some holiday warmth with local sports fans.

Around The Leagues

The 2021 season will be short, but complicated.

But it’s no more complicated than getting players back on ice in the first place.

Pierre LeBrun summarizes the new schedule. Collect and save!

Representation matters. Here’s a holiday gift destined to inspire a whole generation of girls.


Captain America understands this reference. Enjoy.