2010 Winter Olympics: Captain Crosby to Lead Canada to a Golden Ending
To most hockey fans south of the border, Sunday's hockey game was the "Miracle on Ice: Part Two." For hockey fans north of the border, Sunday's loss to our American neighbours has caused a panic from one end of our hockey-mad coast to the other.
While it's true nobody expected an easy romp to a Gold Medal, Canada entered that game as heavy favorites and despite carrying the play through three periods, the home team came away with a loss thanks in no small part to a terrific effort from American goaltender Ryan Miller.
In the wake of Sunday night's loss, it is only normal for Canadians to start questioning what went wrong, and how can we save this thing and bring home the Gold Medal that every single hockey-crazed citizen of this proud country so dearly covets.
Already we see that a change in goal is coming—Martin Brodeur out, Roberto Loungo in. Canada's forward lines are all being retooled and come tonight's matchup with Germany, the only linemates likely to be still grouped together are the San Jose threesome of Thorton, Marleau, and Heatley.
Finally you couldn't help but notice that by the end of the second period Sunday night that Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, and Shea Webber have supplanted Chris Pronger, Scott Neidermeyer, and Dan Boyle as our top three at the back end.
With Canada being so blessed with talent and spoiled for choice the second guessing will always come hand-in-hand with any NHL-stocked Canadian men's hockey team. Perhaps the changes noted above will be the cure for what ails our men's hockey team and deliver us a Gold Medal performance, or perhaps not.
Perhaps there is still one more component that is missing. That one defining moment that turns this thing in the right direction. In 2002 Wayne Gretzky took the podium and delivered his now famous "us against the world" speech.
That speech, in many ways, rallied the troops and in the opinion of many observers and members of that team, provided the spark that lit a fire under the team and carried them to Gold in Salt Lake City.
I am proposing that Team Canada 2010 needs that same spark. That bold moment where we stop playing it safe, and go all in. This is without question Sidney Crosby's team. That looms even larger with an all but certain matchup against Alexander Ovechkin's Russians waiting—Canada should they dispose of Germany tonight.
They said that Crosby wouldn't wear the "C" because they didn't want to put that pressure squarely on his shoulders. They wanted him to focus on playing hockey and not dealing with the distraction of being Captain.
I say that plan has failed, and it's failed miserably. With or without a "C" on his jersey this is Crosby's team. Crosby is the face of this team in the media and as his performance on ice goes, so to goes Team Canada.
What better rallying point than for the players in that locker room to hold a meeting before tonight's game and agree to send Crosby out to face the Germans as the leader and Captain of this hockey team.
Crosby is a natural-born leader that thrives on pressure and self-perfection. He doesn't shy away from a challenge—he meets it head on. In 2006, he lost rookie of the year to Ovechkin, so in 2007 he swept the awards podium after putting up 120 points.
In 2007 he lost in the first round of the playoffs and in 2008 he went all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. In 2008 he lost in the Stanley Cup finals and in 2009 he won the Stanley Cup, becoming the youngest Captain in the history of the sport to do so.
You get the picture. How monumental would it be for No. 87 to put the "C" on his jersey and take all the pressure and meet those expectations head on? If that were to happen and Canada won Gold, such a moment would cement Crosby's legacy as a Canadian cultural icon.
I know that it will never happen—Team Canada's brass is too protective of Crosby and Crosby is too respectful to guys like Martin Brodeur and Scott Neidermeyer, but I think if Team Canada moved the "C" over to No. 87's jersey and Canada went on to win Gold, Canadians, for this generation, would have their very own Paul Henderson-type moment to cherish for the next 30 years.
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