It’s been three days since the great disintegration, a caving-in that not only dashed hopes for gold, but wounded the hockey psyche of an entire nation, still smarting even after the Russians have recovered from their hangovers.
What else is there to say of Wednesday night’s Buffalo debacle? Not much, probably.
The Canada-Russia final for world junior gold was unique, though, in that it might have been the first time we witnessed four different teams playing a single hockey game.
There was the Canadian team that dominated one-half of first period and the entire second, and the red and white squad of beer leaguers playing chaotic and confused version in the fateful third. Then there are the Russians, roadkill through 40 minutes only to rise like a collection of Rocky Balboas on Bauers, delivering the knockout blow to Canada’s Apollo Creed.
We could analyse this implosion nine ways to Sunday. Was Canada’s goaltending substandard? Maybe. Should coach Dave Cameron have called a timeout after the second Russian goal? Probably (though the way the two teams were playing, it likely wouldn’t have made a difference). Was Canada ill-prepared? Doubtful, but there’s an argument to be made it was.
Bottom line is Canada lost ... make that pummelled, stomped on, crated up and sent over Niagara Falls.
And we as a nation are aghast.
But why? Where in the rule book does it say hockey gold is sole property of those donning red and white maple leafs?
Perhaps we need reminding.
• In 1972, we needed Paul Henderson’s last-minute heroics
• Ditto for 1976, when Darryl Sittler beat the Czechs in overtime at the inaugural Canada Cup
• In ’81, the Russians spanked Canada in the second Canada Cup tournament
• In ’84, Canada needed a Mike Bossy OT goal to beat the Russians, before cruising past the Swedes in a pair of final games
• At the ’87 Canada Cup, it was Gretzky-to-Lemieux late in the third that sealed another win
• At the 1996 World Cup, Mike Richter and the upstart Yanks foiled the Canadians
• Two years later, at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, Canada finished fourth
• In 2002, at the Salt Lake City Games, Canada struck gold
• But we bottomed out in seventh place in Torino at the 2006 Olympics
• Last year, this country, of course, needed Sidney Crosby’s home ice heroics for Olympic gold
So, you see, while Canada has enjoyed more than its share of international hockey splendor, it ha rarely been achieved in a cakewalk.
Don’t get your hockey socks in a knot over Canada’s recent setback, stunning as it was. While Canada has usually been the favourite on the ice, never has there been any guarantees.
If there’s ever been any question of Dave Cameron’s ambition or desire to coach, consider this: after coaching the Detroit Falcons and Port Huron Border Cats of the old Colonial Hockey League, Cameron applied for a head coaching job with the Ontario Hockey League’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in 1997. When he was granted an interview, Cameron jumped in his car and drove from P.E.I. to Kitchener, Ont., to meet with Greyhounds officials. He got the job ...
Props to the NHL for trying to do something with the All-Star Game, but it will never be anything more than a glorified game of shinny. Players do not want to get injured, or injure someone else, and because of this, hitting will be nothing more than an ‘excuse-me’ bump, which will continue to result in football-like scores. And that’s not hockey ... Mount Pearl H.J. Electric Blades co-coaches Randy Pearcey and Andrew McKim are in Doha, Qatar, where they were invited to train hockey players over there who hope to play in an upcoming international competition. The invite came from former Bell Island junior player Dion Durdle, who’s working in Doha ... I know he apologized — several times, in fact — and I know it’s not right to think this way, but when I envision Roberto Alomar, I think of the newest Hall of Famer spitting in umpire John Hirschbeck’s face ... Think it’s time to revisit Pete Rose’s lifetime suspension from baseball? Is Rose any worse than the cheats who have played the game, and some of the unsavory characters who have reached the Hall of Fame? ... What this we’re hearing about former Holy Cross ace Mike ‘Breezly Bruin’ Walsh becoming an actor? ...
Robin Short is The Telegram’s Sports Editor. He can be reached by email at email@example.com