What’s more fun than Olympic hockey?
I’m not talking about the actual on-ice competition, where we all politely thank the Swiss and Austrian contingents for showing up and providing the superpowers with a couple of warm-up wins in pool play. No, the true fun in Olympic hockey resides north of the border, where social media in all its glory — websites, blogs, Twitter feeds and Facebook updates — frets and foibles all over every single movement on behalf of Team Canada.
Let’s face it: Canada is good. Probably great. But their efforts are dwarfed by the King Kong Bundy-sized analyzation of so many watchful eyes across the Great White North. Even with a 2-1 overtime win courtesy of Sid The Kid’s golden stick over the United States in the gold medal game back in 2010, there was angst on par with a crazed Black Friday mom waiting in line for seven hours to make sure she gets her spoiled rotten four-year-old dictator the latest Teletubby (or whatever the little tykes get these days).
In truth, this tournament is about Canada, will always be about Canada, no matter the final results. It’s about Chris Kunitz and whether he deserves to be at the Games as Crosby’s running mate, and it’s about whether or not Rick Nash can be 2008 Rick Nash and not 2014 Rick Nash. It’s about Roberto Luongo’s pumped tires, P.K. Subban’s short-season Norris Trophy on the big ice and… Have we mentioned Sidney Crosby?
If Canada doesn’t win the gold medal, it can’t be seen as anything other than a colossal disappointment. Even if they do win the gold medal, there will still be too many weeks, too many Tweets, too many blog posts to slog through about how they either didn’t win “the right way” or how some healthy scratch should have been on the fourth line in the medal rounds for his penalty-killing and “jam.”
Which, in the end, is what makes Olympic hockey so much damn fun. Win, lose or shootout, Canadians just can’t help but come unglued.
SPEAKING OF CANADIANS, had a great Twitter conversation with a Vancouver Canucks fan — one of the ones who didn’t trash his home city or, presumably, try to fight Milan Lucic in the streets — this week.
The scene: The build-up to the Bruins-Canucks game Tuesday night in Boston, the first meeting in the city between the two teams since the B’s seven-game victory in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. The storyline: The nasty rivalry that’s developed between the two teams.
Twitter user @RodgersRamble said the bitterness in the rivalry was “media-driven.” I replied by asking him if he’d bothered to watch the game the first time these two teams met this season, in Vancover, back in December, which produced enough authentic bitterness that Brad Marchand famously kissed his ring finger in front of the Vancouver bench. It’s clear to me — and to any smart hockey fan — that this rivalry isn’t just a concoction of the media’s imagination. It’s very real (see also: David Booth train-wrecked, twice, by Johnny Boychuk).
That led to our buddy @RodgersRamble telling anybody who would listen that the game wasn’t about the rivalry, it was about Vancouver having lost four straight entering the game, about how Boston was battling injuries in their first meeting, about playoff positioning, about… Honestly, I lost track. I was too busy laughing.
Leave it to a good ol’ Canadian hockey fan to play the “you silly Americans don’t understand our game” card.
No, we understand it just fine. But in hiring the tired act that is John Tortorella to coach the Canucks this season, we silly Americans were left wondering if, in fact, people north of the border actually understand the game they purport to have invented.
You reap what you sow, gang.
I PROMISE, I’LL try not to do this too much, but sometimes it’s just so hard to take Jack Edwards.
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