Once upon a time, the greatest young hockey players in the world were gobbled up by the National Hockey League.
You might recall the NHL. It operated for many years across Canada and the U.S., until a boardroom full of morons brought the whole thing to a halt a few months ago.
Now that the NHL is apparently out of business, spectacular young forwards like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov are available for the annual World Junior (under-20) Hockey Championship.
The 2013 edition begins today in Ufa, Russia and continues until the Gold Medal Game on January 5.
Watching the World Junior has long been a holiday tradition in Canada, but fans in the rest of the hockey world have been slower to catch on.
If you're new to the tournament, check out the World Junior Hockey Championship Explained for a look at the format, history, and recent results.
Photo: John Gibson (L) and Jon Gillies (#31) carry the goaltending load for Team USA in Ufa (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images).