Let's get it out here front and center: Especially since he changed goalies in midstream, I think Dave Cameron (left in red tie) has done a pretty good job navigating the minefield that is being the head coach in the pressure cooker of the Canadian national team. All that said, I'm pretty sick of dealing with Cameron and so are plenty of other reporters at the World Junior Championship.
Cameron, who coaches Mississauga in the Ontario Hockey League and has directed the AHL's Binghamton Senators, is condescending at times. He likes one-word answers at times. He's downright boring at times.
Even basic inquiries can be shot down. He rarely makes eye contact and has clearly tired of certain inquiries, like the fans or Zack Kassian and Marcus Foligno playing in Buffalo. Too bad. You're here. Deal with it. I reached the breaking point today when I asked Cameron for his thoughts on the storied history of the Canada-Russia rivalry, and his refusal to offer a real answer created a somewhat silly back-and-forth between the two of us that amused plenty of others gathered around.
Someone asked Cameron his memories of the rivalry and the coach scoffed, "Doesn’t mean nothing to me. It’s winning the gold medal. I don’t care if it’s Russia or who it is."
I couldn't resist. It was go time. So I shot back, "So you have no real thoughts? Your kids don't know what Canada-Russia is but you have no real thoughts of all the history that's involved?"
"Do I?" (emphasis on the "I")
"No, not really. Not as it pertains to this game coming forward."
"In general, do you have any thoughts on it?"
"I think it’s going to be a heck of a hockey game. I mean, it’s two great hockey nations."
"No, I mean just on the history of the whole thing. You're the coach of the Canadian national team. You have no thought on the history of the rivalry?"
"Oh I do but I'm not going to share it now because it’s nothing to do with my preparation for the game tomorrow. If you want to talk history after, come on over, I'll gladly discuss it and tell you what I think. But it has nothing to do with my team and getting ready. A lot of these guys, you can’t go back five, six years and mention hockey. They don’t know. So I'm not going to give them the history lesson now."
Grrrrr. We would have wasted less time if Cameron had simply said where he was the afternoon of Paul Henderson's famous Summit Series goal in 1972, which is something a major Toronto columnist told me afterward that every Canadian who was alive that September day remembers. Cameron, a Prince Edward Island native, would have been around age 13.
Click below for the audio of today's session with Cameron. Apologies for the volume. It was a huge scrum I was trying to get forward through and Cameron is a bit of a low-talker. The exchange above is after about 4 1/2 minutes.
Photo: Cameron instructs his players Sunday against Switzerland/John Hickey-Buffalo News.