Ever since the format for the World Cup of Hockey was announced many months ago, Team North America and Team Europe, and to a smaller degree the entire tournament itself, was dismissed as a gimmick.
Alright, it is kind of a gimmick, but not one that too many people are complaining about anymore.
Team Europe has been the biggest surprise as everyone dismissed them as the weakest seed in the tourney. Surprise, they made the playoff round and have proven to a real threat.
Team Young Guns, also known as Team North America under-23, has been everyone's favorite team. They are so fast, and so exciting. The NHL wanted it's young stars on display and they have not disappointed.
When I say everyone's favorite team, I think even in Canada there will be some cheering for the kids if they should meet Canada in the playoff round.
Of course, the kids will need some help on Thursday to make the playoffs. Team Russia controls their own destiny. They can advance, and send the kids to NHL training camps, with a win over the disinterested Finns who have already been eliminated. Everyone outside of Russia will be cheering on the Finns.
The lesson here is not to dismiss "gimmicks" so fast. I have to admit to originally calling 3-on-3 overtime a gimmick. After that Sweden/North America OT thriller, I'm not so sure we shouldn't play the whole game with just three skaters aside.