Saturday, February 22, 2014

Gold Standard: Americans suck, Swedes don't, and a flashback of 2010

How many frat parties is it gonna take to get over this one Kaner?
Ah, what a glorious week it has been. As I type this blog, I'm on a train from Montreal to London, savoring in what has been a splendid week in Quebec. The food, the wine, the memories created and spent with my lovely girlfriend, it was an experience that I will never forget. 

One of the reasons why this trip was special, was the fact that we were able to watch the Winter Olympics during our stay, and have the chance to see our hockey teams compete at the highest international level. We sat in McLean's Pub on Peel St., cheering on our women's team and baring witness to one of the greatest comebacks in our nation's history; down 2-0 with three minutes to go, our girls scored two quick goals to tie it up and send it to overtime, where Marie-Philip Poulin buried her second goal of the game -- her first was the game-tying goal -- to clinch the gold medal for the red and white, and give me an opportunity to watch more American hockey players cry. That image of males or females in those red, white, and blue colours with tears streaming down their faces is sweeter than the Californian wines that were on sale at two bottles for $20 at the hotel liquor store...I digress...

The next day, we sat in our hotel room and watched our men's team suffocate the American squad to a 1-0 victory, dominating the possession game and giving the U.S. almost nothing to work with. They snuffed them out. After all the hype that surrounded the two American teams in the round robin, and all the smack that they talked on social media, and yes I know I talked a lot of shit and still do because Canada is the best their women choked harder than anything I've seen since last May (it was know what I'm talking about), and their men did squat. And, thanks to Via Rail's on-board WiFi that doesn't allow me to watch Netflix or YouTube so thanks for nothing, I was able to watch Finland lay an American History X-style beatdown of the good ol' USA with a 5-0 victory and a Bronze for the boys from Scandinavia. Way to show up, American bros. Shaun White even thinks you guys effed up. Fourth suits you perfectly. 

That's enough gospel for one day, let's get to brass tacks: Canada will now face Sweden in the gold medal final, which is pretty much the best hockey game I could have asked for. When it comes to international hockey, the idea of a second favourite team doesn't really apply, unless you're Brett Hull or the dude from Homeland. Your country is your country. But, if I had to pick a nation that doesn't bother me if they have more success than Canada, then Sweden is pretty much the odds-on favourite. Without even bringing up the fact that arguably the greatest Toronto Maple Leaf of all-time, Mats Sundin, is Swedish, or that ABBA hails from the blue and gold, Sweden may be the most talented hockey nation other than our own. 

I don't even hate this picture, not gonna lie
Gold medal victories in 1994 and 2006, along with a large presence in the National Hockey League, Sweden has continuously been one of the dominating countries in hockey over the years. Not to mention, they're fun to watch. The Swedes are as good a combination of skill and grit as you'll find amongst European countries, and have gone great lengths in advancing defensive hockey in the international ranks. Hell, they invented the trap. Don't get me wrong, I hope Canada pummels them into the ice and takes home the gold medal; but, there isn't a shred of hatred from yours truly that is aimed towards Sweden. Except Daniel Alfredsson. Fuck Alfie.

Now, for a little reminiscing. We take you all the way back to 2010: a simpler time, to say the least. Obama was President, Harper was Prime Minister, Tony Romo was the Cowboys QB...wait...

That fateful Sunday afternoon when the world had its eyes on Vancouver, and our men's team took on the American's for gold, I watched the game in an empty home with one of my best friends. My mother and father had separated, and my dad had temporally moved into a little blue house with a pink door at 200 College Ave. Me and Alex Heisz shared a bag of salt & vinegar chips and watched from the pleather couch that faced a 400-year-old Toshiba television. We felt our hearts sink when Zach Parise tied it up with 25 seconds left for the U.S. to send it to overtime, and freaked-the-eff-out when Sidney Crosby shot it between Ryan Miller's legs to win it. I remember every detail from that day, every moment, every gasp, every expletive shouted, every fist-pump and fist-bump, and how golden our voices sounded when we sang "O Canada" with the rest of the nation. 

I can only hope I feel the same way tomorrow morning. Go Canada. 

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