I watched every important game of the tournament, and no, I didn’t get up at 4:00am. I recorded the early game, watched it during breakfast, and then watched the second game live. Paddy and I watched the gold medal game together at my house, and the following conversation took place right after the game.
“Well,” said Paddy, “now that Canada is out of the medal-winning group, there’ll be much weeping and gnashing of teeth, calls for heads to roll, more finger-pointing than there are fingers and probably some stupid, publicity-seeking politician screaming for a Royal Commission.”
“I doubt there will be much uproar from sensible people who really know hockey,” I said. (Yes, I believe there are people who really know hockey that aren’t always sensible about it.)
“You think?” Paddy asked, quite unnecessarily.
“Sure,” I explained, “just look at the facts. There was very little to choose among the four teams that made it to the medal round. I’ll bet if all the teams in the tournament played, say, a forty-game schedule, Canada, USA, Sweden and Russia would all finish in the top four with probably only half a dozen points separating them. And, Finland would be nipping at their heels.”
“Finland didn’t even make it to the semi-finals,” countered Paddy.
“Which is true,” I conceded, “but only because just four teams are eligible. Finland had a very good team. I think they may have had three of the top four or five scorers in the tournament.”
“Yeah,” said Paddy, “but that’s all opinion on your part.”
“OK, then,” I countered, “let’s examine some facts. USA, Sweden, Russia and Canada all lost two games in the tournament. Granted, Canada lost the two most important games they played, but they really only played one bad game; the semi-final against USA. Also, before this loss Canada had won fourteen medals in a row. The most any other team ever won in a row is Russia with seven. This is hardly Royal Commission territory.”
Well,” said Paddy, “let’s point some fingers. You’re an old goalie, how about Subban? I think he cost them the semi-final game”
“He did not play well in that game,” I agreed, “but you’re not going to win a game in which you don’t score any goals.”
“They scored one,” said Paddy.
“Yes, but well after the whistle had blown,” I countered, “there is no way that goal should ever have counted.”
“Well,” said Paddy, “no harm, no foul.”
“Tell that to John Gibson,” I suggested. (Gibson was the US goalie who was robbed of a shutout by the blown call.)
“On that point,” asked Paddy, “what did you think of the overall officiating?”
“I thought it was pretty good. That goal was the only egregious call I saw.”
Paddy came back to the subject of Subban, “So you don’t think Subban cost us that game.”
“No, I don’t. Maybe the coach cost us the game, though,” I observed.
“How in hell can you say that,” argued Paddy, “because he didn’t pull Subban earlier?”
“No,” I said, “because any time a team comes out as flat and as unprepared as Canada did, and then continues to play that way for the whole damn game, you just have to lay it at the coach’s feet. For example, I’d love to know what they did on their day off before the game; and what did he say to them between periods?”
“I seem to remember you had some criticism of him earlier,” Paddy said.
“Yes, I did” I agreed, “I think it was bad judgement on his part to blast the officials during the pre-tournament games. You shouldn’t provide a bunch of impressionable teenagers with a possible excuse for poor performance before the tournament even starts.”
I thought of a couple of more reasons why I’m simply disappointed, and not upset, by Canada’s loss. “Paddy, Canada hit two goalposts in the last two minutes of the loss to Russia. Also, there were four different gold medal winners in the previous four years in this tournament. Canada is no longer a slam dunk medal winner”
“Do you think the US goalie, Gibson is it, deserved the MVP award over Nugent-Hopkins?” was Paddy’s next question.
“Yes,” I said, “John Gibson was clearly the best goalie in the tournament and the US would not have won without him. Nugent-Hopkins was Canada’s best player, and the best forward in the tournament, but Gibson’s team has the Gold and Nugent-Hopkins’ team has only memories. An MVP award tends to go to a player on a winning team rather than a player on a losing team, no matter how valuable the latter may have been. It’s always been like that and probably always will be.”
“What did you think of the broadcasts?” asked Paddy.
“Generally, very good,” I answered, “but TSN did introduce one type of shot that I found very annoying.”
“What was that,” Paddy asked.
“Showing a head shot of a goalie just after he made a good save while the play was forming in a counterattack up the ice. I used to think that showing a player skating to the bench while the play was still on was the stupidest shot in hockey, but these goalie shots are worse.”
“What about Miller and Ferraro?” asked Paddy.
“Miller was his usual reliable self,” I replied, “but I thought Ferraro was a bit off his feed. He did have a great line, though. You might remember that on the first USA goal against Subban in the semi-final, there were seven or eight players in a cluster in front of him. Ferraro said it looked like someone was going to take a team picture. However, he also made the kind of inane statement that you usually hear only from Joe Bowen.”
“What was that?” asked Paddy.
“Ferraro said that someone, I forget who, got hit in the high-shoulder-lower chin area.”
“One last question before I go,” said Paddy.
“There can be only one ‘last question,’ ” I pointed out.
Ignoring me completely, Paddy asked, “Which is the greater rivalry for Canada now, Russia or the USA?”
“The USA,” I said.
“Will you agree that that’s just your opinion?” Paddy asked.
“Yes,” I answered and, getting up to accompany Paddy to the door, added, “but the fact is that was your last question.”