Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Adam Gopnik at the New Yorker,
As one who has lived among them for most of his life—even in New York, still connected by family and in-laws—I can assure you that Canadians are not nice. They are just socially graceful, which gives them the appearance of niceness while actually covering over considerable reserves of disgust and disapproval, particularly at those who lack the sensitivity Canadians possess by national training. The tone of the best Canadian literature is rather snappish and sardonic, even vinegary—think of Robertson Davies—and that is the tone Canadians assume again in private after you have left the party and they have seen you off warmly at the door. Inside that Canadian woman, smiling nicely as she fends off drunken confidences and heads off one more obvious American social faux pas at the pass, is the soul of a Canadian defenseman, imagining knocking you senseless in retaliation. (I once heard the great Alice Munro, being feted in New York, respond to a series of sincere but Americanly overdone complimentary toasts with a simple, deflating, body-crushing “Well…!” Chris Pronger couldn’t have hit harder.)
read on for a look at the Canada/Russia game and other purely Canadian notes…
thanks to a KK reader for the pointer
from Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated,
There is nothing small in Brian Burke’s world. He does not use small words. He does not say the pressure on Team Canada at the Olympics is intense; he says it is “glacial, unremitting, unrelenting.” He does not say that he prefers his NHL teams—over the last 18 years he has been the G.M. in Hartford, Vancouver, Anaheim and now Toronto—to be tough or even robust; they must have the “proper levels of pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence.” In macho throwdowns, Burke’s thesaurus is bigger than your thesaurus.
He does not make small trades. While other G.M.‘s tinker, swapping second-round draft choices for third-line rent-a-centers, Burke swings deals that bring 24-year-old franchise defenseman Dion Phaneuf and $7 million goaltender Jean-Sébastien Giguère to the Maple Leafs.
Burke does not have spats. He has epic Shakespearean feuds. In 2007, when Edmonton G.M. Kevin Lowe extended an offer sheet to winger Dustin Penner, a restricted free agent on Burke’s Stanley Cup—champion team in Anaheim, Burke lambasted the move and said, “If I had run my team into the sewer like [Lowe did], I wouldn’t throw a grenade at the other 29 teams.”
And now Burke’s grief matches the enormity of everything else in his life. On snow-slicked U.S. Highway 35 in Indiana, his 21-year-old son, Brendan, student manager of the top-ranked Miami (Ohio) hockey team, died in a car accident on Friday, Feb. 5.
read on (recommended)...
from Harry Thompson at USA Hockey,
For the third time in four Olympics, the U.S. and Canada have been on a collision course that will conclude with a gold-medal clash.
The Americans have outscored opponents 40-2, with 12-1, 13-0 and 6-0 wins over China, Russia and Finland in the preliminary round.
Meanwhile, Canada has steamrolled over Slovakia (18-0), Switzerland (10-1) and Sweden (13-1) before blanking Finland, 5-0, in the semifinals.
The Canadians are deep, talented and playing on home ice. The same could be said for the Americans coming into the gold-medal game in Salt Lake City in 2002. Canada hadn’t beaten the U.S. during the 2002 pre-Olympic tour, yet came up big when it counted to win the gold medal, 3-2.
That was then and this is now. With 15 players competing in their first Olympics, there is a new energy in this U.S. locker room, and it shows on and off the ice.
more and the game is on MSNBC with the puck drop at 6:30pm ET.
“I know we expect a lot from Toews because he has delivered a lot, but don’t overlook this example of his remarkable maturity. A kid who’s captain of one of the best teams in the NHL, a kid who centers the top line, a kid who leads off almost every shootout—- this kid is doing the scut work for his country, doing all the selfless, thankless stuff, and he’s still managing to stand out. Special kid. Lucky us.”
-Steve Rosenbloom on Jonathan Toews. More on Toews at RosenBlog.
Canada rush into the semifinals, while the only consolation for the Russians might be the fact that not many Russian fans witnessed the nightmare live due to time difference.
from Michael Rosenberg at Sports Illustrated,
The NHL is supposedly thinking about skipping the 2014 Olympics. Now, this is a brilliant idea. On Wednesday night, as I watched Canada’s Dan Boyle thread a gorgeous backhanded pass to Ryan Getzlaf for a goal, kick-starting a 7-3 victory over Russia and making Viagra unnecessary in Canada, I thought, “Dammit, I should be watching Predators-Blue Jackets right now.”
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman cannot be serious about this. These Olympics are the best show hockey has put on in years. Why would he want to stop that?
The NHL should not just commit to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia—Bettman should offer to grab two hockey sticks and paddle his way across the Atlantic.
This is a no-brainer. And to really understand why, you have to understand the internal squabble in this sport for the last few decades between two groups: purists and marketers.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
It all sounded so darn good on paper.
Stack your team with nine KHL players, win the Olympic gold medal, show the world your fledgling league is just as good as the NHL, then enter your own Games in Sochi, Russia, in four years as the reigning champion.
You see, it wasn’t enough that Russia was going to be a heavy contender in this Olympic hockey tournament. There was, as rumor would have it, tremendous pressure on coach Vyacheslav Bykov to include as many KHL players as possible. There were powerful people behind the scenes who wanted to make this a political statement, too.
Well, Russia made its statement, all right. Thanks for coming out.
In a quarterfinal game that meant everything to both hockey superpowers, Canada embarrassed Russia 7-3 on Wednesday night.
“It is the same feeling as the Canadians would have had if they lost—it’s a disaster,” Russian netminder Ilya Bryzgalov said after the game.
from Shawn P. Roarke of NHL.com,
“They are pretty good when they get to back up and play five on their own blue line,” Swedish center Peter Forsberg said. “They have great guys when they get turnovers. They have a couple of the quickest guys in the world, so you can say that they played us the way they wanted to play us. It’s pretty hard when they are up; we have to go after them.
“They are not a bad team. They are a pretty good team, so we have to have some luck to beat them, but not today.”
As a result, the golden era of Swedish hockey ends.
Four years from now, if professionals are still a part of the Olympic hockey tournament, Sweden will be without many of its most famous names. Lidstrom and Forsberg won’t be back. It’s also unlikely that we will see Daniel Alfredsson or Fredrik Modin.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail at CTVOlympics,
On this improbable night of hockey, as Canada rolled to a lopsided 7-3 victory over a star-studded Russian team, Corey Perry was talking about what constitutes Canadian hockey at its very best.
“That was it,” said Perry. “Physical play, grinding, cycling, forechecking - that’s what we did tonight and that’s what wore them down.”
In one of the most hyped, heralded and anticipated hockey games in history, Canada unleashed a devastating first-period attack Wednesday night to crush Russia, the defending world champions and in some people’s minds, the gold-medal favorite, in a men’s Olympic hockey quarter-final game.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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