This puts me in a tough place to write about this game. I have many, many readers who hail from Europe, United States, and obviously mostly from Canada. I have always been outspoken about being a proud Canadian, and certainly this is no exception.
If you have read my blogs previous to this, you will see that I have been very critical of Canada's teams including women's hockey, and boys Junior Hockey. I have talked about running up the score, and being very arrogant as a nation of hockey lovers.
However, I do feel that we are the best nation of talent when it comes to hockey, but I still think that there is a way that we can be proud, and not be arrogant in letting the world know this.
And that way is simple...
To the USA men's team, I tip my hat off to you for representing your country so well. Ryan Miller lead you a fantastic tournament of wins that nobody in the hockey world predicted but your Brass. Brian Burke, and Ron Wilson, you both did an excellent job of putting the right team on the ice. It took real guts to pick that team, but then again, Brian Burke has plenty of that. The man is an out and out hockey genius.
But let me get back to my point. To lose in hockey in Canada means anything less than the Gold Medal. Steve Yzerman had a thankless job of picking Team Canada because if he wins, he had the greatest talent to chose from, and if he lost, he picked the wrong team. A pressure cooker position to say the least. There were many armchair quarterbacks saying that we were too arrogant, and they were right.
When you become arrogant, you become sloppy. -You underestimate your opponent. You see it in every aspect of sports. You saw it with the Russians underestimating the 1980 Miracle on Ice USA team, you saw it with Mike Tyson losing to Buster Douglas, and you see it in many other aspects. And losing is a bitter pill to swallow when you are as good as you THINK you are, but you come up short. That's where a second chance will make you make ammends again, and you will see hunger in the eyes of your opponent once again.
And that's what Canada needed early in this tournament. A nice big kick in the ass, from taking every country for granted. That loss to Team USA was exactly what we needed to get back on track and send a message to everyone that working hard and keeping your mouth shut produces results quietly that speak for themselves. And then, nobody can accuse you of being arrogant.
Well, this Gold Medal game was much more than just a hockey game. In many ways, it was eerily similar to the 1980 Miracle on Ice Game in the Lake Placid Olympics. The USA has become such a good hockey team, yet they don't get the credit they deserve. Underdogs? Sure, but not undermined...
Being on home soil, this meant so much to Canadians. Hockey really is OUR game. You guys all play it in other countries, but you don't LIVE it like we do. In every other country, you have at least one other sport that means more to you. In Sweden, and Czech, you love Soccer. In the US, you can take a pick after Baseball, Basketball, Football, NASCAR, Indy car, Women's Volleyball. These are all more important to you than hockey ever will be... Russian hockey is a proud tradition, but it seems that the Russian players care more about themselves than being a nation of hockey players. Only Finland, I would say loves hockey as much as Canadians do exclusively.
If your country would've won this, it would've been great for about a week, and then you've forgotten it by the time Spring Training starts. In Canada, we would never forget it, and we would never have gotten over it.
So to win this on Home ice for the fans that can really appreciate it? You can't imagine how much that means to every single Canadian.
So please, understand. We love our hockey here. We even have it printed on our money! It's our passion, it's our love, and it's our game.
So please don't begrudge my nation it's Gold Medal in the sport that matter most to us. We really do appreciate the fact that you are out there playing hockey, and we don't undermine your talent and ability.
In fact, we love that you love the game of hockey like we do! But when there are other choices, and we stick with hockey, and most of your country goes to an alternative, it bothers us.
Are we arrogant about our hockey? Probably... But isn't every other country that is good at a sport arrogant about theirs? What about Soccer/Footie? There must be a couple dozen countries that are just as arrogant about their sport. England, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Argentina, Holland, and the list goes on...
But mostly, this win inspires a Nation of people who just hosted a Winter Olympics and did a pretty good job of showing talent, ability, culture and kindness. So in taking my hat off to the Team USA, and congratulating our brothers to the South on a fantastic tournament, I am really being sincere. I would not want to lose to the USA, and it would hurt just the same as them losing to us. But maybe now you can appreciate why it means so much more to us, to let us have this moment. You have so many other options in sports, but only Hockey really unites my nation to come together like what we saw on Feb. 28, 2010
I also don't want to not mention Slovakia, because their Hockey team really showed what it was made of. They deserved the respect of everyone in the hockey world for their team effort. In fact, in many ways, I wish Team Canada would be like them. Play the game to win with a selfless team effort, and let the world judge you on that, and not what comes out of your mouth...