Monday, March 1, 2010

Congratulations Canada, the best team won!

It's over. That fat lady has sung...... well actually in Vancouver (a very fit &
active city) probably wasn't a fat lady so much as a young, sexy thing in Lululemon pants holding a small dog that was yapping rather than singing, but either way - it's done.

And Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, Jonathan Toews, Martin Brodeur, Shea Weber, Brent Seabrook, Marc-Andre Fluerry, Patrice Bergeron, Dan Boyle, Danny Heatly, Scott Neidermeyer, Chris Pronger, Brenden Morrow, Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, Patrick Marleau, Rick Nash, Corey Perry, Mike Richards, Eric Staal, Joe Thornton and Roberto Luongo are all on planes heading back to their respective NHL teams wearing Gold Medals.

It was a dogfight. It was a nail-biter. It was a passionate, competitive, glorious battle to the finish.

At this point I don't really want to breakdown the game because - well when it's for a gold medal it's more about the path that got you there than it is about the three 20 minute periods that put a medal on your neck.

America's path could have been a fairy tale. It kinda was. They were young, mostly virgins to the Olympic pressure and intensity. Unproven and thereby underdogs. And yet they repeatedly and steadfastly plowed through the competition. Some (Norway) were easier than others (Canada in round 1) but they still got through it all. Some games they depended more on their goalie than any other player, but that's not the end of the world when your goalie is Ryan Miller. He was solid and as near to perfect as I have ever seen. And the rest of their team did find their legs fairly quickly.

Team Canada on paper we were the odds-on, unarugable favorite. We had every elite hockey player. The #3 goalie in the NHL as our starter. The gutsy goal scoring Flames captain, the veteran gold medal winner, and last but not least The Next One.

But yet, Team Canada struggled when faced with even the slightest real challenge.Brodeur was clearly in a slump, and all those leaders couldn't figure out who to follow. Rock bottom for me was the constant game of Hot Potato they played with the puck during the 1st game against USA. Everyone tossed the puck around and no one bothered to take a freakin' shot! C'mon guys, Canadians polite but not THAT polite. You ARE hockey players afterall! And The Next One? Well, there were a lot of grumblings that he was The Non-Existent One. (I wore your jersey proudly Sid. You know I love you, baby. Call me!)

The loss to the USA in the round robin was devastating. Because, hello, it's the US. Our loud obnoxious neigbour who usually don't realize we exist and now want to take away the one thing that makes them acknowledge our existence! But more importantly - it meant our dreams would be dashed with just one more mess up.

But head coach Mike Babcock learned from his mistakes. Lines stopped changing faster than Vancouver's weather. He stuck Iginla, Crosby & Staal together - a great combo. He sat Broduer and his pretty eyes on the bench and dressed the man the World now thinks we "boo" - LUUUUUUUUU!

Roberto Luongo did what he does for the Canucks every playoffs - he held the competition at bay until his forwards and defensemen found their legs. The difference this time is that, unlike the Canucks in playoffs, the forwards and defencemen found their legs. And even when they lost them again - I swear to you the dying seconds of the Slovakia game cost me 5 years off my life! - he made all the saves necessary to get Team Canada through!

Was LU perfect? Nope. But then again if Ryan Miller had been perfect, I'd be unable to write this article through my sobbing and tears. Yeah Luongo might have let in a cheap goal, but it was only 1 as opposed to the 3 Brodeur let in in only 2 games. Bobby Lu was our only hope - and he did his Country proud.

And was Sidney Crosby's game winning goal in overtime simply luck (or karma for being the most awesome, timbit popping, puppy dog adorable hockey player on the planet)? Despite Sid's admission he had no real strategy and had no idea how it got in - nope. That wasn't luck.

Sidney's goal came from determination, talent and a relentless effort to not give up. And if Iginla, Toews, Luongo and every single other Team Canada player didn't have those three qualities working overtime (in overtime and all the way through the tournament), then they wouldn't have won.

Team Canada DESERVED to win that Gold. They were the better team. The fought harder and longer than the USA. They faced bigger threats (Russia and the brilliant, albeit surprising, force of Slovakia) and bigger obstacles (unrelenting homeland pressure and expectation) and they triumphed.

In this case, it may have been the turtle that beat the hare. But isn't that the way it should be?

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