In case you didn’t hear, the 2006 World Junior Hockey Championships, which were held in Canada from Dec. 26, 2005-Jan. 5, 2006 in Vancouver, were marred by merciless non-stop booing and heckling by Canadian fans against Team USA, including several vulgar and obscene chants, including during the American national anthem.

Canadian fans chanted “go away USA” and “USA sucks” among other things at every American game, regardless of whether or not Team Canada was involved.  TSN analyst and Canadian Bob McKenzie was quoted in the USA Today as saying that the anti-American sentiment “was almost a compliment because it was in recognition of the Americans having a pretty good team.”

However, he added that at the tournament in 2005, which was held in North Dakota, he remembered the Americans being extra gracious to Canadian fans when a snowstorm closed the roads.  McKenzie finished by saying the fans had gone too far.  The reason for the booing is still under some question.

Not surprisingly, Canada is used to dominating at the tournament, and expects to win every year. In the last 20 years, they have won ten times, including a dominating stretch of eight out of ten years from 1988-1997, and failed to medal just three times.   Despite their earlier dominance, Canada didn’t win over the next seven years, climaxing with a devastating loss to none other than the Americans in 2004, only the fourth medal of any kind the United States won during that stretch.   Perhaps part of the tension came from the fact that the Americans were actually favored to win the event.

Part of it might have stemmed from a questionable late hit on Canadian forward Steve Downie by American defenseman and Hurricanes draft pick Jack Johnson at one of the early games in the tournament.   Some have even suggested that politics played a role in the actions, and that the fans’ actions reflected a negative view towards American foreign policy.  If the booing was motivated by politics, then the recent election of conservative Stephen Harper as the new Canadian prime minister certainly wouldn’t make those fans very happy.

Still, the consensus from many on the Internet regarding the game was that the booing had less to do with politics, and more to do with hockey. Regardless, such childish and petty actions should be beneath Canadian fans.

I don’t have a problem with a little booing. After all, it’s okay when Red Sox fans boo Yankees fans, right?  But going out of your way to be rude and overly disrespectful of another fan’s country is taking things way too far.

The bottom line is this: The Canadian fans crossed the line at the 2006 World Juniors. As it may be a few years before the United States or Canada hosts the tournament again, hopefully everything will cool off before then.

Of course, if Team USA takes the gold at Turino, all bets are off.

Your No. 1 Source for Southern Hockey