Sunday, February 28, 2010

Point - Counterpoint

Ah... we're SO tempted to lead with that oh-so-famous (and clich├ęd) "Jane, you ignorant slut!" line. But we won't. We'll just play it straight. Here's our point article:
Paging Al Michaels: US Will Beat Canada (what follows are a few excerpts)
Ready for the most awaited hockey game in an American generation? Maybe the better question is whether Canada can handle the devastation if it loses to Team USA ... again ... for the second time in a week on Canadian ice. My gosh, Dudley Do-Right just might defect. And recalling the rioting in the Vancouver streets back in 1994, after the Canucks lost to the New York Rangers in a Game 7, well, I'll be avoiding that mess on Granville Street, thank you.
[...]
If 1980 produced the victory to be forever known as the Miracle on Ice, winning gold on Canadian ice -- certainly possible, despite the can't-beat-them-twice nonsense -- would be a validation of America as a serious world player. We've had our moments in the sport, grooming future Hall of Famers and forging into the Olympic final eight years ago, where a Canada team pieced together by Wayne Gretzky finally won gold. But this would confirm that America can build champions, three decades after spinning a fairy tale. The Miracle on Ice was a killshot against Soviet rule and helped make the world a better place. A gold medal here has a completely different meaning: It just might be the boon hockey needs to become big in America. There hasn't been a team this cool in the States since, dare I say, the basketball Dream Team.
[...]
Beating the Canadians, at their Olympics, would be one of America's epic international sports victories. Now that NBC has figured out why Team USA should be aired lived on the big blowtorch, the Sunday ratings will be gigantic, highest ever for a hockey game nationally, helped by another snowstorm that has socked the East and fed the appetite for warmth and feel-goodism. It isn't often when the U.S. is the underdog battling the perceived behemoth, but that's the way it'll be in hockey until a gold-medal is won without a Disney theme. Canada's coach, Mike Babcock, issued a reminder about supposed supremacy when he crowed after the breakthrough quarterfinal victory over Russia.
"It's going to be one country's game [at the Olympics], but we try to prove on a regular basis that it's ours," Babcock said. "I'm a bit of a redneck, and I think it's ours."
And the money shot:
"There is no pressure," Kesler said. "No one expects us to win."
I do.
Why? We're not overstating matters in suggesting no team in the history of Olympic competition -- if not the history of modern sport -- ever has faced more pressure than the Canadian men's hockey assemblage. The Vancouver Games have been a painful struggle for the host nation after the government foolishly declared it would produce "the best Games ever" and "own the podium" in the competition. The Canadians could salvage some of their lost pride by concluding the Olympics with a gold medal in their mother-lode sport.
But if they fall short? And if they lose to the U.S., a country that has merely 2,050 hockey rinks for 300 million people while Canada has 11,000 for 33 million people? They'll have to place guards on every bridge in the nation, watching for jumpers. In the height of irony, the local police don't want a gold medal. After the Russia victory, a screaming, marching mob took over Robson Street, chanting, "We want USA! We want USA!" Drunken behavior has been an Olympic sport these two weeks, and a Canada gold would launch a night of insanity involving people from throughout the region. "If Canada happens to lose, they'll cry in their beer at home and decide they're not going to get on the SkyTrain," Constable Lindsey Houghton, a spokesman for the Vancouver Police Department, told the New York Times. "If Canada lost [to Russia], Canada would no longer be playing and that would have brought a huge reduction in the number of people coming downtown."
Well.  I dunno if I buy into that "the police don't want a win" thing; the cops in Vancouver have to be as patriotic as any Canadian alive... perhaps more so, given the nature of cops in general.  As for the rest of it?  Few are predicting a US win tomorrow, but Jay Mariotti makes a convincing case.  Read the whole thing.

Now our counterpoint, from Lucas Akroyd, writing at the IIHF's web site:  
VANCOUVER – Shoot down the bald eagle. Imprison the Statue of Liberty. Do whatever it takes. That's the attitude of Canadian fans as the 2010 gold medal game looms.
They're almost as concerned about the prospect of the United States winning the Olympic hockey crown as they are eager to see their own team triumph.
The Americans, who beat Canada 5-3 in preliminary-round action, must lose on Sunday.

[...]

You see, most Canadians will at least acknowledge that the Russians have produced some of the world's greatest players, from Valeri Kharlamov to Alexander Ovechkin, and that they play a different, more finesse-based style than Canada, which sometimes prevails. That grudging respect dates back to the 1972 Summit Series, where Team Canada needed Paul Henderson's last-minute goal in Moscow to claim victory. (Something that many Canadians would choose as “the greatest moment in sports history” rather than the 1980 American “Miracle on Ice.”)
To lose to Russia in Vancouver would have been very painful, but not incomprehensible.

However, unfairly or not, the Americans are viewed as cocky interlopers. To have them win would be unbearable. Why? The reasons are multifold.
The average Canadian fan feels that Americans don't really understand hockey. If they did, why, for instance, would FOX TV have experimented with the infamous FoxTrax “glowing puck” between 1996 and 1998 in order to help U.S. viewers more easily spot the little black disc?
It goes further. Many Canadians believe that Americans don't really appreciate the sport that Canada invented. If they did, why are so many NHL markets in the southern United States struggling to keep their attendance up?
Well, the last point might be valid... but those "many Canadians" Mr. Ackroyd speaks of have to be aware of  the legions of rabid American hockey fans in Dee-troit, Boston, Chicago, Denver, and Noo Yawk, among other places, no?  They, and he, are willfully blind, if not.  And those same fans complained long and bitterly about that infamous glowing puck, which is precisely why it went away.  Nope... those points are pure chauvinism, nothing else.

In all fairness I have to admit my counterpoint article is weak, focusing as it does on Canadian fans rather than Canadian hockey players and Team Canada's record in this tournament.  This is better:
Oh say can’t you see, you damn Yankees, that our glowing hearts are pounding with the need to win Olympic hockey gold?
So unhand that medal, you rapacious hockey interlopers. Don’t you know there’s been a script written here, one that has been read to us at every bedtime — never mind ‘round the clock for the last year — that Canada is the master of the hockey universe and the entire success of these Olympic games, nay, our very identity, can only be truly forged by mining hockey gold on home ice?
It all comes down to this. The dream final. One game, one final three-period showdown set for high (Pacific) noon Sunday. An entire nation wrapped in red and white, poised on the edge of its chair, brew in hand, praying for the only gold medal that really matters.
No pressure, boys, no pressure.
[...]
Or as one enlightened U.S. hockey fan noted on the San Francisco Chronicle website: “We’re comin’ for ya’, hosers! Let’s get it on, aay? Ya’ back-bacon eatin’, Molson guzzlin’, muckluck wearin’, very polite sons-a- mooses.”
Don’t even think about it.
Sure, the Americans are hungry for their first hockey gold since 1980’s Miracle on Ice. But it would hardly mean as much to them as it does to us. The U.S. of A. can already claim more hardware in these Olympics than a repository at Fort Knox. Hockey gold would just be adding another trinket to their overflowing treasure chest.
And it would be greedy. The U.S. is already spilling over with Olympic riches. The Americans have Apolo Ohno, Shaun White and - be still the beating hearts of every hetero male — Lindsey Vonn. They have their baseball, basketball, even real football (sorry CFL). They have their Super Bowl, their Masters, their World Series.
Can’t they just leave hockey to us?
We invented it. Finders keepers. Or as Michael J. Fox said in his inspiring spot: “For Canadians, hockey isn’t just a game. It’s our game.”
There are some well-turned phrases in this article and some valid points.  But when all is said and done it's still buck-nekkid boosterism.  Yet it's worth the read.  Short, too.

So.  All the foregoing aside... here's my point.  I've been reluctant to call the gold medal game because I've felt the teams were too evenly matched and the intangibles too great to make a call.  But after further reading and reflection I think USA will take the gold medal tonight.  Our boys have come together like no other team in the tournament.  Team Canada has been spotty by comparison and that might be too kind.  They almost threw away the game against the Slovaks Friday night and should feel damned lucky to have escaped.  They won't be nearly as lucky tonight.  The game may be close but the Americans will prevail.

It's destiny, eh? 

5 comments:

  1. Ahahahaaaaa...the Canadians have obviously never been to Grand Forks, ND.

    We have a hockey arena that seats around 12,000ish people, and is always packed for men's games. People here are hockey FANATICS.

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  2. The differences of these two teams is one of the things that makes it tough to call which team will prevail.

    I think the pressure that the Canadian team has on it will be tremendous, which can go either way toward the outcome of the game. Some people do their best under pressure, others fold. I think for the players of Canada this game is even bigger than the Stanley Cup pressure because of the venue. That can be tough to deal with.

    I think a big key will be the first period and which team scores first. If the US gets ahead early I can see the US winning the Gold.

    The Canadians played things a little "cheap" with this Olympics. Their athletes were able to practice on the snow venues while they refused that to the other nations.

    Go USA! It would be a great win.

    Word Verification... whive. WHIVE?

    Is that some ebonic word? lol. Whives I gots to do dat?

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  3. LUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!

    █ ♥ █ GO GOLD CANADA █ ♥ █

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  4. "Is that some ebonic word? lol. Whives I gots to do dat?"

    Hilarious!

    USA! USA!

    My WV, more ebonics: bespe. "You Canadians bespe watchin outs!"

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  5. Dang. Blogger just ate all my replies with a 503 error. I'm too lazy to retype them all, so just imagine the glowing things I said to all four of you. Wait... three of you. I had a big "Pbbbbtttt!" for KC. I WILL retype that. ;-)

    ReplyDelete

Just be polite... that's all I ask.