It kinda sucks that the day after the greatest hockey game in history, we have to quickly straighten our tie and prepare for the trade deadline. I know there isn't much of a way around it, but I wish we could at least have today to enjoy the win for a little longer. You know what? I'm taking that day and refusing to get into trade talk yet. My lasting thoughts on the Olympic hockey tournament, including the re-taking of the Gold Medal:
1. Like him or not, Sydney Crosby scored the greatest goal in the history of hockey. Biggest name out there, biggest game out there, biggest audience in history, overtime, gold medal on the line, home soil, avenging an earlier loss, massive pressure, blown two-goal lead that included one with 24 seconds left, and I could go on. When the Kid broke into the league and dove and whined his way to stardom, I had a tough time pulling for him. Ovie was the easy one because he was goofy and hit hard and scored amazing goals. Over time, I have to admit that my ship has changed courses and I'm now of the belief that Crosby is the greatest player in the game right now. I'm not just talking talent, because I think that is still debatable. But for an all-around player, I just don't know how you can argue that at 22-years old, he isn't the best player out there. I'm pulling for ya, Kid!
2. Speaking of Crosby and Ovechkin, and I know the detractors will say his contributions were here and there, I do think it is funny that both of Crosby's major accomplishments involved going through Ovie. Second round last year and the Caps were humiliated by Crosby's Pens. This time, the Russians were humiliated by Crosby's Team Canada. Which leads me to my next point...
3. I'm no longer scared of the Capitals. I'm sorry, I know it isn't a huge sample size, but Ovechkin is now 0-for-2 in big games. If he were the best, he'd have willed his team to victory. But both times, with the game on the line, he hasn't been there. The Capitals already suffer from mediocre goaltending and porous defence, but now the world knows that you can out-will Ovechkin and Semin in the big game. Unless he proves me wrong this year, I'm ready to say that Ovechkin will be plagued with this for years to come. The only player with more negativity to shed might be...
4. Joe Thornton. Sure, he, Heatley and Marleau are trotting back to Silicon Valley with gold medals around their necks, but it is safe to say that we won that game not because of them, but in spite of them. I kinda lost my shat when Marleau and Thornton formed a pair in the overtime and Heatley came over the boards next. This isn't sour grapes, people, those guys scare me in a bad way. Master of the long reaching stick check in the offensive zone, Thornton did absolutely nothing to show that he has what it takes to put in the extra effort. Combine the way he and Heatley played in the medal games with the beauty of a performance that Nabokov put forth and you have another quick exit for the Sharks. I actually feel bad for Dougie Wilson because there is nothing he can do about it. He can't trade any of this star players while they sit in first place, but they will inevitably lose in the early rounds and he'll be fired. One GM that impressed me, though, was...
5. Brian Burke, who deserves credit for the team he put together. I'm not going to go as far as to get behind the 'nobody knew our names' crap that they are saying, but the team lived up to his billing. Did we expect them to medal? Not really, but everyone knew that Ryan Miller gave them a chance. I hate Burke and Ron Wilson but they iced a team that skated hard, competed at all times, and gave us the best final opponent possible. Lucky for us, they have to return to the world of the salary cap and will continue to toil in mediocrity. One last piece on the US team - I live in the US and have had a number of people say congrats on the win, but there are always those ass-hats that come by and say 'weren't you guys supposed to win?' or 'okay, so now we're tied 1-1, when's the rubber match?' Even a blogger on Yahoo had some long thing about how it isn't special that Canada won because we were favourites going in. It sucks that sour grapes can ruin such an amazing game. Americans should hold their heads high, enjoy the fact that their team played an amazing tournament, and start looking forward to 2014. Do you think anybody in the US dressing room was thinking during the tournament that they sucked and weren't supposed to be there? They showed up looking for gold.
6. My top players of the tournament have to be Getzlaf and Toews. Getzlaf is such an awesome prototype of Canadiana - tough as nails, great scorer, proud, in your face, All-Star. Plus, he's insanely bald for his age. I hated that we had to play against him in the Finalsin 2007, but love that he's on our national team. I felt that Perry was there as a byproduct of Getzlaf, though Perry did hold his own when it mattered. Toews showed the promise that this team has going forward as he was easily our best two-way forward, which is a new role. I guess that is what is so amazing about this tournament - you see a guy like Rick Nash on the fourth line and he's still working his ass off. New roles, new linemates, but you still go out there with your country's emblem and play like there's no tomorrow.
7. Kind of an emotional situation for the goalies. We have definitely seen the last of Martin Brodeur as a goalie for Team Canada. Knowing just how great he is and remembering the save he made on Hull in a 3-2 game in 2002, it sucks to know that Brodeur's international playing career ended with a loss. Luongo was good. He wasn't amazing, but he didn't need to be. He needed to make timely saves and avoid the stinker. Even though Parise's goal was partially in the zone because Luongo didn't freeze the initial point shot, he still kept calm and was the winning goalie. Not much more to say than that. Luongo has a ways to go and will be our guy in 2014, without question. Thanks for the golds, Marty!
8. Overlooked in the aftermath of The Goal was the Iginla pass. I even read in some articles that 'Crosby jumped on a loose puck' to score the winner. C'mon, people! Iggy fought hard on the boards and made a hard, no-look pass to the front of the net because he saw Crosby take off and Rafalski hesitate. I'll be the first to admit that Iggy 2010 was a shadow of Iggy 2002, but that pass was insane. Not many guys on the team (I'm looking at you, Sharks) would take the hit and make that perfect pass, but that's why the two guys were paired up at that moment. Let us not forget Iggy in all of this.
9. Not trying to look ahead here, but what players will be too old for 2014, assuming the NHL sends players again? Niedermeyer, Boyle and Pronger on the back end will be replaced with Green, possibly Phaneuf, Bouwmeester, Robidas, etc. Naturally, other guys will step up, but Keith, Seabrook, Weber, and Doughty are children and have a while to go. Of the forwards, are you sitting down for this? The elder statesman is Jarome Iginla, who is ancient at 32 years old right now. Wow. I'm sure over time, we have to make room for a Stamkos in there (maybe a Spezza?), so those role guys will change with time. How about Tavares? Yeah, we'll be alright. In nets, swap Brodeur with a Mason and we're ready to go. All is well with Hockey Canada - thanks, Sid!
10. And let's hear it one last time for Team Canada. I about threw up everywhere when we scored that goal. In a good way, of course. We were so dejected after that loss in the preliminaries, both because of the opponent and because of the resulting journey we'd have to the gold medal game. The win against the Germans was a practice, but the match against the Russians was supposed to be a war. We killed them so bad that their media is accusing us of performance-enhancing drugs, saying it is the only explanation of how the game was so lopsided. We thought we'd get the Swedes, but just like in 2002, they were upset in their quarterfinal match. Though the Slovaks of 2010 were far tougher than the Belarussians of 2002, we still finished them off. And the most hyped hockey game of all time lived up to the anticipation. I'm going to need to see so many replays of this game for the simple fact that I was too nervous to catch the little plays from time to time. The second period is almost a blur. And The Goal. Where were you when Canada won Gold in 2010? It is hard to imagine right now, but this goal was bigger than Paul Henderson and was bigger than the 87 Canada Cup. This was Gold on home soil with the whole world watching. We'll tell our kids and they'll tell their kids for generations to come. Epic. Legendary. Surreal. The greatest goal of all time in the greatest game in our history. There, I said it. Now go and enjoy the trade deadline frenzy. What do we have to give up for Comrie?
Please note that there are numerous photos being used in this blog from various sources across the Internet. These are not attempts at republishing pictures without consent, but merely a chance to add a face to a name.