The end of the games Well this weekend marks the end of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games and with that the conclusion of the best hockey tournament I have witnessed in some time. Every round had something that everyone was talking about. It seemed like history was being made, along with upsets, and moments to both cheer about and watch in shock. Right now there is doubt as to whether or not the NHL will participate in the next Olympics. While part of me would be disappointed in missing out on some great hockey, I can see both sides of the argument on this one. That is still four years away from now, so in the mean time, let us focus on the now. So here is my take on the last two weeks of hockey glory!
USA vs. Canada 1 Right from the opening bell, everyone knew this game would be special. After all you have neighboring countries battling it out for hockey supremacy. In the United States you have a team of young players, talented but untested on a grand stage like the 2010 Games. Aside from that, you have a country in the U.S., unappreciative of hockey, with dismal attendance in local arenas, and virtually no regard for the beloved sport of the North. In team Canada, you have a team of grizzled veterans, all of whom could walk into the Hockey Hall of Fame and be given a spot on the wall. In team Canada, you have an entire country supporting its players and the sport that was created by Canadians. So naturally, everyone expected USA to fold under the pressure it had against itself….that didn’t happen. As GM Brian Burke has been saying the entire tournament, the pressure is on Canada, not USA. After what seemed like a chess match, USA defeated Canada in the opening round in a game that had the entire country reevaluating whether or not Martin Brodeur was in fact the greatest goalie of all time. All Canada could hope for now, was surviving the remaining tournament games in hopes of a gold medal, let alone the unlikely possibility of getting a rematch against the team that beat them.
Teemu makes history Teemu Selanne seems like the guy that is hard to hate. Everyone loves this guy and wants him to succeed for some reason. Well, he made history in the earlier games with Finland, when he became the greatest scorer in Olympic history (since the NHL began participating in the Olympics). It was a great way to end what seems to be his last Olympic participation as a player. Along with his most points scored by a player, he also took home the Bronze medal by defeating Slovakia.
Slovakia: the Cinderella team
Speaking of Slovakia, who even thought they would make it to the Bronze medal match? Watching the game against Finland was exciting, as I am a big sucker for underdogs. I know I found myself cheering a bit too loud for them at one point or another during the game. Hold your head up high Slovakia!
Crosby, Crosby, Crosby
I could not believe how many times announcers were talking about Sidney Crosby. I mean it got ridiculous, because at one point they were able to mention his name during an ice skating competition! I mean, I understand he is the great white hope for hockey in Canada, but he is someone I won’t miss hearing about after the games are over and he goes back to the East Coast.
Russia vs. Canada= disappointment
One of the other games everyone was looking forward to was Canada, or USA, vs. another tournament favorite, Russia. Russia was brimming at the rim with talent, and on paper looked scary. The team had talented Russian players from the NHL, as well as the infamous KHL, led by Alexander Ovechkin. So naturally, this was the team to beat, right? Wrong. Canada had the unenviable task to face them first and did so. Unfortunately, by that point, Russia had already lost one game, so Russia did not enter their match against Canada as the monster team everyone thought they were supposed to be. In the end, Canada wiped the floor with Russia and put an end to that dream match.
What happened? I watched as Mikka was bamboozled goal after goal, and then in one game, as he pulled himself out of the action. It was a sad sight of an aging goalie, which was probably injured, getting spanked every time he was in goal. I think it was a miracle that he held on long enough to beat Slovakia for the Bronze, but boy, Mikka sure made everyone bite their nails down to the bone in Finland.
NBC’s horrid coverage The worst possible coverage, even worse than Versus during the NHL Playoffs, goes to NBC. NBC did all they could to pre-empt games, and cut away to curling, every chance they had. NBC also did all they could to show you very little of post game celebration and barely any interviews. History was made during some of these games, but NBC could not wait to go back to Bob Costas and Al Michaels sitting at the fire place talking about hair coloring products. NBC I can sum up our relationship by saying you suck.
USA vs. Canada 2: The rematch Finally, today a game will be played at the Olympics that will make history. It will probably be watched by more people than the Stanley Cup this year. It will be a game that people talk about for years to come. Everything that hockey stands for, is on the line today, at least for Canada. Canada has placed so much pressure on itself to win this game, that I would be exhausted if I was Canadian just by the mere anticipation. And as for the US and Brian Burke… they are just happy to be here. They did not think team USA would be undefeated and ranked number one in the tournament. Heck, according to reports yesterday, some of the US players had return flights scheduled for this morning! How is that for being a pessimist or a realist as some would say? Today’s game will definitely be one everyone is talking about tomorrow morning for sure, and should do a lot to help hockey. I, for one, hope to see what I saw in the last US game, when the TV cameras showed Brian Burke doing a knuckle bump after a goal scored. It was a subtle act, but you could almost hear Burke screaming in his head celebrating with a few expletives. It’s now ten o’clock, and just two hours until the puck drops on history, so with that I say thank you to the NHL for the 2010 tournament. It has been, and will be the best hockey seen in some time on an international stage. I only wish Herb Brooks were alive to see today’s game.