Stan Butler's Diary

PRE-TOURNAMENT, MOSCOW - Dec. 25, 2000
Christmas Day

So here we are - months of preparation and it's all about to start. I cannot believe how quickly the time has gone by. The summer evaluation camp, the meetings, the final selection camp and now we're all about to embark on a journey that none of us will ever forget. I never thought I'd see the day when I'd be doing something as big as this - coaching a national team in a major tournament like this. It's hard to believe sometimes.

It's funny. I know it's Christmas Day, but to me it doesn't really feel like it. You're so far away from home and in a place that is so different from Canada; and we're all pretty focused on our first game. I was looking out my hotel room window earlier today and thinking about my two kids, Sara and Adam, and wondering about their Christmas Day. Sara is 10 and Adam is 7; Christmas is such a special time of the year for both of them. I think that sometimes people forget about the sacrifice the players and people involved in the World Juniors make every year. It's a huge honour to represent your country - one that I wouldn't trade for anything - but it's tough being away from family, friends and loved ones over the holiday season.

We arrived here from Stockholm yesterday afternoon. You get off the plane and you step into a totally different culture. But we're all aware that it's just as much of a hockey culture as ours is. People here know the game and love it. We had a great practice today. There was lots of energy. I think some of the guys are starting to get a little nervous now that we're here and our first game is so close. These players grew up watching the tournament and they know how important it is to people back home.

The rink where we practiced today (and where most of our games from the tournament will be played) is right next to the famous Luznicki Ice Palace where Team Canada played in 1972. I'm looking forward to going into that building and looking around a little when I get some time. I'll never forget being a kid in grade ten at Monarch Park High School back in Toronto and sitting in the library to watch the final game of the series. When Paul Henderson scored the winner we cheered so loudly that they must have heard us over in Moscow. How's this for making a guy feel old though: none of the players on this team were even close to being born when I watched Henderson score that goal! But here they are, ready to start the biggest tournament of their hockey lives, right in the shadow of where that historic series was decided. I hope we can make a little history of our own.

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André Brin Director, Communications | Directeur, communications