February 21, 2010
1980 was one thing, but tonight was absolutely the best hockey game I’ve ever watched…the occasion, the venue, the NHL-sized rink, the fans, the unmatched level of action in the first period right from the puck drop and the commentators/analysis (Eddie Olczyk and Jeremy Roenick). The best thing that could have happened for the US was that quick goal. Miller was beyond amazing as were the defensemen in front of him – especially in the last five minutes of the third period.
The main question was: Why wasn’t team Canada pressing like that all game or at least in the beginning of the 2nd period when team USA was flat? That barrage was better than all their power plays combined.
Brodeur can’t be blamed for everything…like the fifth goal. The first went off Crosby’s skate and another off a stick. But he was responsible for Drury’s goal after Pronger knocked our player into him and Brodeur decided to whack him instead of getting in position. Unbelievable considering the stakes of the game. And Team USA’s direct pressure on Broduer’s stick handling led directly to Rafalski’s second goal.
I foresee a goalie change. Why didn’t Babcock have Roberto Luongo in net considering it is his town and his ice rink? The advantage could not have been clearer and it would have been one more thought in the back of Team USA’s mind.
Most shocking was why Team USA was considered such an underdog. Team Canada wasn’t at all considered an underdog in Salt Lake City. The USA had handily won the previous games and Team Canada squeaked by the Swiss in a shoot out. Had the team that appeared in the last 5 minutes of the game started the game and played like that throughout Team USA would have been decimated.
Another oddity – the chant of USA – USA was easily heard over Go Canada Go and for a great deal of the time the Canada fans sat on their hands. I get they were shocked with the loss and were (justifiably) flat out angry with how their team allowed Kesler to get that an empty net goal when there still was enough time to tie it up, but you have to cheer your team on for next time. The pressure on Team Canada (and all the Canadian Olympians) already was unbearable but it increased exponentially after losing and they should have received a rousing ovation as they left the ice. The players know how they let the whole country down and that would have been the lift they needed to know the country is still behind them and believe in them.
Honestly, I feel bad for Team Canada. How much joy are they getting from playing at home vs being stressed from the expectation of winning the gold? I would have been perfectly fine if we lost that game. And believe it or not, I hope Canada wins the gold. Americans have gotten their miracle in hockey – something that can never be outdone even if they were to beat the Canadians. And even though we don’t appreciate the contempt the whole country has for American NHL players and American hockey in general — which makes no sense because Canadian players come to US colleges to play and without the NHL the world wouldn’t know how great Canadian hockey players are — we know that in Canada hockey means everything.
It’s the one thing that separates American Olympians from all the other countries. Yes, winning is great and they are rewarded for their efforts – as they should be – but if the Olympian doesn’t win there is no national outrage or shunning of the athlete. Although the media puts pressure on them to win and at times flat out expects them to win, the pressure they put on themselves is worse than anything external.
Take Michelle Kwan. Hands down one of the greatest figure skaters in the history of the sport – in and out of the Olympics – but she never won the Olympic gold and she is no less loved because of it. What person, let alone nation could make her feel worse than she already did herself?
Bode Miller is another. He’s considered one of – if not the greatest – American skier and he completely blanked in Torino. He was clearly out of shape, didn’t look interested, didn’t even finish his runs and admitted to Olympic-sized partying. Yes, the press was all over him. Yes, his answers were less than forthcoming. But he wasn’t shunned out of the sport and he is back this Olympics and has gone 3 for 3, including getting his first gold. Would he have been able to do that if the entire nation had been outraged?
Granted, the attitude has a lot to do with the fact that the US sends a lot of Olympians and many of them win medals. It would probably be different if we only had a few and they lost. Can’t know.
I’m a Cubfan and quite honestly don’t care if we ever win the World Series. I care that the players respect their opponents, run to first base even on routine outs, not stand at the plate admiring something they’re getting paid to do, play the outfield without fear of the wall, challenge doubles, put the bunt down, understand how many outs there are, know how to run the bases, play good defense no matter how they are hitting and most of all appreciate Wrigley and the fans. That to me is what it means to be a Cub.
The flags on the pole mean more than any trophy could because those players: Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, Ron Santo, Ryne Sandberg and Greg Maddux (during his time with the Cubs) played with heart and to the best of their ability every single day – even when they were in last place. They played for the love of the game and respected its history and their opponents.
No World Series win could match Ron Santo’s induction into the Hall of Fame before he dies. There is no doubt that if he hasn’t been inducted while he is living, he will be after he passes. Everyone in baseball knows that, especially the Veterans’ Committee. Their not electing him reflects their own desire to keep their club exclusive. What type of sportsmanship is that? I have absolutely no respect for Joe Morgan, George Brett (he wasn’t on steroids and/or amphetamines when he charged out of the dugout after his pine tar bat was discovered?), Johnny Bench, Jim Palmer or Tom Seaver.
Don’t know how I ended up there.
I guess I wanted to point out that most Cubfans, when the Cubs are out, root for the Cardinals. Same with the Bears and the Green Bay Packers. We don’t like to lose, but when we do, we pull for our closest rivals.
There are five Blackhawks in the Olympics: Kane for the US, Toews, Seabrook, Keith (why aren’t they paired up on defense?) for Canada and Hossa and Kopecky for Slovakia. Hawk fans are rooting for all of them to do well. All three Canadians outplayed Kane tonight.
There are eleven standout (positive) moments in this Olympics for me and four involve Canadians: kd Lang’s performance of fellow Canadian Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, tonight’s hockey game, Alex Bilodeau‘s win of the gold (although I was hoping it would be Jennifer Heil), Jon Montgomery‘s singing of “O Canada”, Chinese pair skaters Shen-Zhoa and their coach winning the gold, Johnny Spillane‘s silver and Todd Lodwick‘s performances in the Nordic combined, Anja Paerson‘s courage to continue skiing despite her crash, Aksels Svindal‘s amazing comeback and the absolute joy it brought his father, JR Celski‘s comeback and his brother, US Army Lieutenant David Celski, getting to watch in the stands, Skip John Shuster‘s classiness despite the ignorant-of-curling Twitter rage, and topping the charts – Slovenia’s cross country skier Petra Majdič’s superhuman determination to ski – let alone capturing the bronze – with four broken ribs and a collapsed lung and her insistence on receiving the medal in person despite having a chest tube. She epitomizes what it means to be an Olympian.
Americans root for other athletes – above all Canadians – when there are no Americans left in the event. We want you to do well. We want you to win. We want your athletes to have fun at home like ours did in Salt Lake. And we want your country to be proud of all your Olympians whether they win or not.
All of Canada needs to rally behind their hockey team more than ever. Take some of the pressure off them so they can enjoy their experience on home ice. Don’t trash them on air. Tell them you’re behind them 100% no matter what happens. They can’t do it without you and you need to cheer even louder when they’re down.
Whatever happens you can’t let the shouts of USA be heard over Go Canada Go. How do you think your players felt when they heard that in their own house? You can lose your voice for a day can’t you?
Anyone who tuned into that game became a fan of hockey and the Canadian people’s absolute fantaticism and what’s better than rooting against Americans?
I hope the gold medal match is between our countries but for that to happen you absolutely have to get behind your team when they play Russia and our team has to keep winning. If we do meet up, I hope you come away with the Gold after a game that is even better than tonight’s.
The US and Canada womens’ hockey teams, however, are another matter…