Legends of Hockey - Spotlight - Team Canada - 2005 World Junior Championships
Spotlight
One on One Turning Point

Turning Point - Team Canada - 2005 World Junior Championships
Canada's Patrice Bergeron already had a full NHL season under his belt when he helped Canada to the gold medal at the 2005 World Junior Championship in Fargo, North Dakota.
Canada's Patrice Bergeron already had a full
NHL season under his belt when he helped Canada
to the gold medal at the 2005 World Junior
Championship in Fargo, North Dakota.
(Photo by Josh Holmberg/Hockey Hall of Fame)
As curious as it may be to state, the turning point of the 2005 World Junior Championship may very well be the fact that the National Hockey League had locked out its players in a labour dispute. This gave the junior squads the opportunity to utilize age-appropriate players who otherwise would have been playing hockey professionally and not given the chance to participate in this tournament.

The 2004-05 was to have been the 88th season of play in the National Hockey league. Instead, it ended up being the first time a major professional sports league in North America cancelled a complete season

The lock-out began on September 16, 2004, the day after the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the NHL and the NHLPA that had resolved the 1994-95 lock-out had expired. The parties finally reached an agreement on July 13, 2005, but only after the entire season - all 1,230 games - had been cancelled. The NHL owners and players ratified the CBA nine days later, on July 13.

The NHL attempted to convince players to accept a salary structure linking player salaries to league revenues, which would guarantee the member clubs cost certainty. The NHL delivered a report that stated that NHL clubs spent 76% of their gross revenues on players' salaries. That figure, far more than other North American sports, was the contributing factor in why the teams collectively lost $273 million during the 2002-03 season.

The NHLPA, though, disputed the league's claims, although there was no question that that several franchises were losing money. The NHLPA believed that the NHL's losses were less than half the amount being claimed by the league.

Canadian players answer questions from the media following a gold medal game win over Russia at the 2005 World Junior Championship in Fargo, North Dakota.
Canadian players answer questions from the media following a gold medal game win over Russia at the 2005 World Junior Championship in Fargo, North Dakota. (Photo by Josh Holmberg/Hockey Hall of Fame)
With no resolution to the conflict, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the cancellation of the 2004-05 season on February 16, 2005.

While no NHL hockey was taking place, there was plenty of other hockey being played, including the World Juniors. The NHL's loss was the Canadian Hockey League's gain. With the NHL inactive, the top eligible players under the age of 20 were available to their countries for the tournament. The country that benefited most was Canada. The line-up was infused with players who likely would have been playing in the NHL, but were now available to play in the junior tournament. One notable player was Patrice Bergeron, who had played a full season as an 18-year-old with the Boston Bruins, scoring 16 goals and 39 points in 2003-04. During the lock-out, Bergeron was starring with the Providence Bruins, Boston's American Hockey League affiliate. During the World Junior Championships, he was the tournament's most valuable player, and contributed significantly to Canada's dominance. Team Canada outscored their opponents 41 to 7, and in the process, ended a seven-year gold medal drought at this competition.

Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.