It’s finally over. A tournament that will basically be remembered for ruthless efficiency more than any classic hockey has come to a close. And it ended with Canada on top, which it always should have. Sure, it would have been more fun if Sweden could have played them with more than a center and a half, but that’s the way things go. It probably still wouldn’t have mattered.
It’s easy here south of the 49th to rail against Canada and be bitter or angry. But I’m not. I only have vague and hazy memories of the ’87 Canada Cup. But I remember being awed by any team that could put Messier, Gretzky, and Lemieux on the same line (which they did). It’s the star power, because this kind of collection of talent only comes around every four years, and sometimes not even then (the 2006 team sure didn’t look like this). I find it preferable to just marvel at how the Canadians were able to take their talent advantage and strangle the life out of teams. Especially on defense. I’m not sure Canada has ever had it as good as they had it on the blue line in this tournament. Marc-Eduoard Vlasic is a wonderful d-man, and you barely heard his name this tournament. Of course, that’s when Vlasic is playing well.
While there was much teeth-gnashing over the US team and their selection and their coaching, honestly how many of their players would crack the Canadian team? None of the centers, obviously. Kane? Kessel? Maybe Suter? Maybe Quick and Miller? I think you’d be hard-pressed to make a case for anyone else. While it hurts because Canada is the measuring stick and no one likes to feel outgunned and out-manned, there really is no shame in losing to such a beast of a team.
This was a team that could play Patrice Bergeron on a wing. It didn’t even have to use P.K. Subban. Rick Nash was essentially a 4th-liner. Carey Price could have smoked a pack of Kools in a lawn chair and I doubt Canada would have lost. There’s just too much.
For Hawks fans, I suppose we can take heart that Toews was probably the best forward in the game, and the best Swedish one was probably Marcus Kruger, forced to take on more than he’s designed for due to the Swedes being ravaged down the middle and making a decent fist of it. We can only hope it helps his game grow upon his return to the NHL, because you feel like the Hawks are going to need it. Oh, and Toews outmaneuvering Patrik Berglund for the opening goal was a lovely sight and hopefully a sign of things to come. Of course, none of that is enough to cover the panic of what this took out of our 10 Olympians. Only time will tell on that.
Those pro-Olympics will be a little down that there wasn’t really any classic game outside of US-Russia (which eventually meant nothing) to promote the cause of keeping the NHL-ers in this. It’s mostly a tournament that happened and then was over. Except for the celebrating Canadians, I feel like in the future this one will feel like Torino 2006, where I can’t really remember anything that happened other than who won.
And now we can all get back to our regularly scheduled program. Normal service resumes tomorrow.