Monday, March 1, 2010

Final Olympic Thoughts from TVOS...


It all came down to one goal in the final game of the Olympic hockey tournament on Sunday. In a winner takes all situation, it is usually an unsung hero netting the winner but in this situation, for Canada, the team and the nation, it was Sidney Crosby's goal at 7:40 of overtime that delivered the gold medal. It appears that all of Canada watched part or all of the 3-2 Canadian victory, so breaking things down on a play-by-play basis seems unnecessary, so let’s close out the TVOS Olympic articles with some final thoughts.

First of all, congratulations to all the players, coaches, trainers and members of Hockey Canada that contributed to the Games and a huge congratulations to Steve Yzerman, Kevin Lowe, Doug Armstrong and Ken Holland. The moment that they were in place as the management team for the Games their hard work began. With every fan and analyst predicting their choices for the team, Yzerman and his crew were second-guessed from the very beginning.

Within thirty seconds of naming the team at the end of December, the voices rose throughout Canada, questioning why certain players were left off the team. Perhaps that is one of the great aspects of being a hockey fan in Canada; we all have strong, valid opinions as fans. However, make no mistake, these men spent hundreds if not thousands of hours travelling and scouting the NHL teams, looking for the perfect chemistry needed to win Gold on Canadian soil. Turns out, they knew what they were doing, so perhaps in the future, the second-guessing will be muted.

As for the tournament itself, we witnessed the growing level of competition between all of the hockey nations. The marketing campaign of “This is our game” has worked too well... Canadians believe that hockey belongs to this nation and when anyone defeats Canada, it is a personal attack on us as a nation. Well, I have a thought here - hockey ceased being “our game” the moment we shared it with the world over 100 years ago. Many countries have begun to excel at the game we love and cherish, in large part thanks to Canadian players and coaches spreading their knowledge throughout the various leagues and countries of the world. Hockey started here and if we are truly proud of our creation, we must enjoy seeing the progress it has made in countries like Switzerland, Slovakia and yes, even in the United States. Team USA showed a remarkable resilience in this tournament and as the youngest team in the Games, they put everyone on notice that they will be a force for years to come.

The players assembled by Yzerman and his management group proved they were perhaps the best “team” ever assembled in Canadian uniforms. Not all of the greatest stars made the team, but the logic behind the selections and the chemistry on the team that continued to grow as the tournament progressed demonstrated that the right choices were made. How many people had Jonathan Toews on Team Canada? Answer honestly - not too many did... Toews ends up being the top forward in the tournament with one goal, seven assists and a plus nine rating. If he is not on this team, we could be talking about a quick exit from the tournament, not a Gold medal.

Forwards like Brenden Morrow, Mike Richards and Rick Nash bought into their roles on the team, sacrificing goals for body checks, proving the depth and toughness Canada possesses. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf proved to be a winning combination. Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, Dan Boyle and Shea Weber illustrated Canada’s depth on defence, joining Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer as some of our nation’s elite players. Jarome Iginla, a last minute addition in 2002 and questioned for his inclusion on this 2010 squad, proved he has the heart of a Champion. Many said Roberto Luongo had never won the “big game” and yet there he was, holding a Gold medal after the game. Perhaps now some of this chatter will disappear; after all, last time I checked, Ryan Miller has no Stanley Cup rings on his fingers and yet none of this talk was aimed in his direction. Sidney Crosby may not have had a great tournament, but he certainly had a great moment, a golden moment. The addition of the entire “Shark Attack” line of Thornton, Marleau and Heatley was a brilliant move in my opinion.

With the 2010 Games over, the attention returns to the business at hand - the resumption of the NHL schedule, the trade deadline and the final push for the playoffs. Thanks to everyone that emailed, phoned and tweeted TVOS with your comments. It was a pleasure to share these games with you all.

Photo by tyfn on Flickr.

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