Juniors' next challenge: O Canada

It’s no secret that our boys did us proud again this year: Canada once again took home the gold medal at the World Junior Hockey Tournament. That makes five years in a row now, and the dominance of the home team in this tourney was nothing less than spectacular. The win against the Swedes may have been a bit of a yawner, but the match between Canada and the US was a classic, and Eberle’s last-ditch goal against the Russians was among the all-time most exciting plays for sure. Well done lads. Your efforts make us proud.

There’s only one problem, and I don’t know how to put it lightly. As the camera dipped and swooped along the line of sweaty faces after Monday’s gold-medal game in Ottawa, it became painfully clear that these disciplined athletes and proud Canadians fall well short of perfect in one key area: The boys can’t sing. Give them an A for enthusiasm, but in tuning, timing, tone, and taste, the Canadian Junior Men’s hockey team’s rendition of O Canada is one of the worst I’ve ever heard.

It wouldn’t be a big deal, ordinarily. Many, if not most Canadians will tell you they don’t sing. At some point, it became awesome to be a rock star, but lame to be an ordinary person who simply sings. “Happy Birthday” has become an excruciating ritual, as irony, embarrassment and parody collide for four bars of cacophony. We all muddle through, and nobody much minds.

For years, we’ve even avoided singing the national anthem, as if in mute tribute to our collective self-consciousness. But recently, there’s been an upsurge in vocal expression of national pride. At the NFL game in Toronto, for example, the quiet crowd sprung to life in a husky, heartfelt version of O Canada when a visiting singer started to get it wrong. Last week at the ACC, in tribute to our military heroes, the crowd sang unaccompanied and shook the very rafters. And that’s in TORONTO, for goodness’ sakes.

Is it not too much to ask when the boys are representing Canada, in a world tournament held in the national capital, that they learn to carry the tune of our national anthem?

It’s the missing piece of an otherwise perfect run: a tuneful, heartfelt, proud rendition of O Canada!

For next time, eh boys?

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