Playing Like Slutskaya's

This may come as surprise to some people, but the Men's Hockey Team beat the Czech Republic yesterday. Disregarding that final score thingie, the Canadian Media is organizing a petition to give the two points to those pesky Czech's.

After all, their effort yesterday, relative to our Canadian Men, clearly makes them the victors. Let's ignore for a second the fact the Czech's started the game looking like they came off an all night bender with Bode Miller. Once the Canadian Men opened up that 3 - 0 lead after twenty minutes, Jagr and the boys started playing hard (almost like they were behind 3 - 0 and had nothing to lose). Astounding, it certainly was.

If you'd like an accurate measurement of the best Hockey team in the world, this is not the tournament for you. The following teams could win the Hockey Gold: Canada, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and The United States.

The simple reason: five of the seven teams listed above played their first competitive game together 7 days ago. Does anyone really think that Switzerland would stand any reasonable chance if these seven teams were given a month of practice time and participated in a Stanley Cup Style Tournament? Furthermore, how would any of these teams do against a formidable NHL (or perhaps more accurately because of the ice surface, a Swedish Elite League) team? I say poorly. The Detroit Red Wings would pump any team in this tournament.

Somebody needs to get Steven Levitt to quantify the most productive way to assemble a national team for a single elimination tournament. My guess is that his method would value continuity and familiarity above star power. Oh, and luck, don't forget about luck. Remember luck if the Men lose and somebody hypothesizes a convoluted, practically ridiculous and wholly illogical theorem to explain the loss.

As for the apocalyptic reaction to the games last weekend, and the win (loss) yesterday by the journalists in Turin and the assembled media back home; everybody needs to relax.

Go have an espresso. Cover some ice-dancing. Borrow some EPO from one of the cross-country teams and go on a 96-hour gambling binge.

This is the Olympics, and favorites lose ALL the time. All the time.

While we're here, I'd like to offer some quick thoughts on the games:

- I'm not watching a ton of Women's sports during the games (that I will freely admit), but Cheryl Pounder and Irina Slutskaya are both terrific; specifically when announcers shout their names. POUNDER... IMPOSES HER WILL! WATCH SLUTSKAYA SPIN!

- When I get some free time in my early 40's I'm going win a gold medal in Skeleton.

- Congratulations to the CBC for showing a considerable amount of live curling. Personally, I'd rather watch a group of German Athletes take a urine test.

- What drives someone to become an Freestyle Aerial competitor, other than drugs? CBC was showing the qualifying for today's Women's final when a Canadian competitors left knee did its best impression of an exploding grenade. What was even more staggering was the reaction by the announcers. The relative calm made it seem like these people routinely suffer career-ending injuries. (They do.) The next jumper was participating in her first competition in four months (turns out she cracked three vertebrae's while training in September). Does anyone else wonder how these people lead the other facets of their lives? For instance, before they drive to and from the competition on long, winding icy roads do you think they make sure to drink a half bottle of whiskey?

- When Don Cherry criticized the Women's Hockey team wasn't everybody hoping that one of the young, formally educated, unconditioned girls would say something to the effect of: "Why would I care what Don Cherry has to say? Isn't he a bigot? Hi Mom!" Let's nominate Gillian Apps for any such incidents in the future. Apps is a psychology major, stands six-feet tall and is a fun date for a themed semi-formal at Havergal College.

- I'm a big Chandra Crawford fan. Congratulations, Chandra. Everything that girl said today after winning her gold medal was genuine, enthusiastic and without cliche. CBC will be showing her gold medal-winning race tonight after replaying the Men's Hockey game from three hours earlier.

- Completely unrelated to the Olympics, if anybody has an HD capable television be sure to catch American Idol tonight. You're more likely to see a contestant react to constructive criticism with humility and respect than you are to see anything in Paula Abdul's face actually move.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Kudos to the Kanata Senators for placing the fate of a potential Stanley Cup Champion directly on the groin of Dominic Hasek. No truth to the rumor that Kanata is going to hire Donald Emerson to try and sell season tickets for next year.


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