Monday, March 1, 2010

USA Loses, Hockey Wins

Good morning Fackers. Well that was one hell of a heartbreaking loss yesterday no? Team USA looked like destiny's darlings when they tied it up with just 24 seconds to go, but Sidney Crosby's goal in OT gave the gold to the Canadians. Congratulations to Canada. They had an incredibly deep team and were under a tremendous amount of pressure to take gold on their home soil. Even in the disappointment of defeat, it was quite something to hear the entire arena sing O Canada as the Maple Leaf was raised over Canada Hockey Place.

As for the U.S., as tough as it is to come so close and take home silver, they should be very proud of what they did. Coming into the tournament they were considered a long shot to even reach the gold medal game. Instead, they rolled along and never even trailed at any point until Canada took a 1-0 lead yesterday afternoon. They were the youngest squad in the tournament, and it looks like this new batch of players will be worthy heirs to the Leetch-Richter-Chelios-Modano-Tkachuk-LeClair-Hull-et. al. group that set the bar so high through the 1996 World Cup and 2002 Olympics. That is of course unless the NHL pulls the plug on player participation in 2014 Games.

Even in defeat, Team USA earned honors. Goalie Ryan Miller was named Tournament MVP; Brian Rafalski earned top defenseman honors, and forward Zach Parise joined them on the all-tournament team.

Beyond that, we were treated to an outstanding two weeks of hockey that I hope will have impact that lasts beyond the heightened interest of the past several days. For all those who have made comments to the effect of "now I can stop caring about hockey for another four years", please realize that what we've witnessed over the past two weeks is not unique to the Olympics. The level of intensity shown throughout the Olympics is no different that what's on display for two full months each year during the NHL playoffs. The advent of widescreen televisions and HDTV has made hockey on television better than ever but it's no comparison to hockey in person. For my money, no sport is so markedly better in person than on TV than hockey. Do yourselves a favor and find out for yourselves.

And with that, I'll stop talking about hockey again and we'll get back to baseball. Spring Training games start Wednesday. Soon we'll have something resembling real baseball to talk about.

Photo credit: USA Today


  1. Matt,
    As a Canadian hockey fan (a redundancy if ever there was one), I'd like to thank you for your shout-out to hockey, and your reasoned thoughts on yesterday's game.

    I realize that most Americans don't "get" hockey, in the same way that most of us North Americans don't "get" soccer. That's fine; our favorite sports always reflect our upbringing. But you are absolutely right in saying that playoff hockey (especially in Canada) is an insane experience, akin to going to a soccer game in Brazil, or maybe a college football game in Texas. Regular season hockey games are hit-and-miss, but a playoff game is 60 minutes of pure adrenalin, just like yesterday's final.

    Anyway, congrats to the American team, and particularly to Ryan Miller who is unbelievable, but I'm sure glad Canada won; it means WAY more to us than it does to you. Did you know they had to shut down the downtown areas of Canadian cities (YouTube: "Toronto celebration hockey") for celebrations that went past midnight? No overturned cars or vandalism either, as far as I know. I'm as proud of that as I am of the win. All the best, Matt. Until Sochi, in 2014 (hopefully).

    - Jim in Canada

    P.S. Yankee fan since Don Larsen....

  2. Thanks Jim. I'm happy for you and your countrymen. I think that there are in fact Americans for whom a victory yesterday would have meant as much as it does for you. But there aren't nearly as many here as there are in the Great White North.

    I can't think of any sporting event that virtually all of America could rally behind in the way that the Canadians have wit these Olympics. Perhaps a real life version of the Balboa-Drago fight.

    I'm looking forward to the playoffs. I might even flip over from the Yankee games during commercials to see what's going on.