By: Jeff Riger
I really don’t care all that much if the United States wins gold in hockey and neither do you, but we do care about stopping Canada from winning it.
Sure, we want team America to bring home gold in whatever they compete in; but if they don’t, we get over it and move on quite easily. Canada on the other hand, takes it way more seriously — and so does every other country that is taking part in the Winter Olympics.
Before you get offended and think I’m being unpatriotic, let me explain myself.
We here in the greatest country of them all have everything. We don’t need the Olympics because we care much more about our local pro teams instead. Winning a gold medal is cool and all, and if it happened, you might even buy a t-shirt or something — but it is nothing compared to one of your local teams winning it all. We watch, because we like sports and it only happens every four years, but we’re really not hard core about it. Whether you live in Detroit, Omaha, Dallas or San Francisco, all of us American’s are the same when it comes to sports. Our local pro teams are everything, while our countries teams are cool and all, but not nearly as important. And, that’s ok, that’s the beauty of us: we have other options.
But for other countries, winning gold is everything … and in Canada, winning that top medal in hockey is more than everything, it’s life and death.
As I was watching Canada take on Latvia in their quarter-final game on Wednesday afternoon, I could sense the importance of the contest merely from the announcers that were calling it for Canadian TV. You could sense the looming disappointment if team Canada would have lost, and when Shea Weber netted the game winning goal on the team’s 54th shot of the day, you could feel the overwhelming relief. An entire country was glued to their TVs or radios hanging on for the next shift, knowing that if Canada was upset, it would be something they would never be able to get over. Meanwhile here in the USA, there was probably a huge chunk of the nation that had no idea that the Americans were taking on the Czechs at the same time.
But it’s not just Canada that takes their Olympic puck seriously; every other country does as well. The Swedes, Fins and Canadians are salivating at the chance to still bring home gold while the Czechs, Slovaks, Norwegians, Russians and more are suffering the collective gut punch from being eliminated from the tournament. I can’t even imagine the disappointment of the Russians right now. They were picked by some to win it all, and instead they are forced to watch another country win gold on their home ice. They are devastated; all the teams that have been knocked out are.
And, that is exactly why I want the United States to smoke Canada come Friday when the two teams meet for a chance to go to the gold medal game.
Four years ago when the Canadians won gold in Vancouver against the United States, I was bummed … really bummed. When Sidney Crosby beat Ryan Miller on that feed from Jerome Iginla in overtime, I remember thinking to myself how much I didn’t want Canada to win on their home turf. I was madder about the Canadian’s winning than the United States losing. I know it sounds weird. I wanted the United States to be the team that wrecked an entire country’s dream. Canadians likes to remind people that they care about hockey more than anybody else, and they probably do, so when the US had a chance last Olympics to demoralize the “greatest hockey lovers in the world,” I was all for it. I wasn’t going to hit the streets of Farmington Hills at the time to celebrate an American gold, but I would have taken a great sense of satisfaction at the fact that the ones who cared about the sport the most fell at the hands of our awesome country.
I have nothing against Canada or its people, but I want our guys to beat them at their own game.
It always gives me great pleasure for some reason when there are no more Canadian teams left in the playoffs in the NHL and “Hockey Nigh in Canada” is forced to talk about a bunch of American teams trying to win a cup. Knocking Canada out of the Olympics would be even a better feeling than that.
So even if your dream isn’t the Americans winning gold in hockey, root for them anyway on Friday, because wrecking an entire country’s dream will be a lot of fun. Plus, that whole getting-revenge-for-four-years- ago thing will be nice too.