A grateful nation says, 'Thank you, Sidney'

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Published on March 01, 2010

A member of Team USA holds up a sign as athletes enter the closing ceremonies for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C., on Sunday, February 28, 2010. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Published on March 01, 2010

The Canadian flag is raised by members of RCMP during the closing ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, B.C., Sunday February 28, 2010. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Published on March 01, 2010

Women's figure skating bronze medallist Joannie Rochette carries the Canadian flag into the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games closing ceremonies on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010 at B.C. Place in Vancouver. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Published on March 01, 2010

Performers enclosed in spheres perform during the closing ceremony for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on March 01, 2010

Images of Russia are projected during the closing ceremony for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on March 01, 2010

Performers entertain the audience at the closing ceremonies at BC Place Sunday February 28, 2010 of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Published on March 01, 2010

Actors perform a Canadian scene during the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games closing ceremonies on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010 at B.C. Place in Vancouver. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Published on March 01, 2010

Olympic athlete Catriona Lemay Doan lights the four arms of the Olympic cauldron at the beginning of the closing ceremonies at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010 at B.C. Place in Vancouver. The fourth arm had failed to raise

Published on March 01, 2010

Performers take part in the closing ceremonies at B.C. Place Sunday February 28, 2010 of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Published on March 01, 2010

Athletes enter the stadium during the closing ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver olympic games at BC Place Sunday February 28, 2010 of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Published on March 01, 2010

Fireworks explode over the BC Place after the closing ceremony of the Vancouver Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on March 01, 2010

Fireworks explode over the BC Place after the closing ceremony of the Vancouver Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on March 01, 2010

A clown playfully connects two power wires to raise an arm from the Olympic Caudron during the closing ceremony for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on March 01, 2010

Gregor Robertson, right the mayor of Vancouver, waves the Olympic flag as he shares the stage with International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, center, and Mayor of Sochi Anatoly Pakhomov, left, during the closing ceremony for the Vancouver

Published on March 01, 2010

From left, Mayor of Sochi Anatoly Pakhomov, IOC President Jacques Rogge and Mayor of Vancouver Gregor Robertson during the closing ceremony for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010. - Photo by The Associated

Published on March 01, 2010

Canadian Royal Mounted Police take down the Olympic flag during the closing ceremony for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on March 01, 2010

Performers entertain the audience at the closing ceremonies at BC Place Sunday February 28, 2010 of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Published on March 01, 2010

Actors dressed as RCMP officers march in during the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games closing ceremonies on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010 at B.C. Place in Vancouver. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Published on March 01, 2010

Members of Team Canada make their way into the stadium during the closing ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, B.C., Sunday February 28, 2010. - Photo by The Canadian Press

OLYMPICS/MEN'S HOCKEY

Fourteen. Thank you, Sidney Crosby.= Thank you for putting the exclamation point on Canada's record 14 gold medals, unequalled by any nation, host or otherwise, in the history of the Winter Olympics.

Thank you for not taking a shift off, even when you were frustrated at every turn by an American body or stick in your way, all day long. Thank you for following that puck into the corner in overtime after you were sandwiched trying to split the U.S. defence, and thank you for heading for the hole when you left the puck with Jarome Iginla and two American defencemen stuck in the corner.

VANCOUVER -

Fourteen. Thank you, Sidney Crosby.= Thank you for putting the exclamation point on Canada's record 14 gold medals, unequalled by any nation, host or otherwise, in the history of the Winter Olympics.

Thank you for not taking a shift off, even when you were frustrated at every turn by an American body or stick in your way, all day long. Thank you for following that puck into the corner in overtime after you were sandwiched trying to split the U.S. defence, and thank you for heading for the hole when you left the puck with Jarome Iginla and two American defencemen stuck in the corner.

"He was yelling pretty hard for it, so I just laid it in there, hoping I wasn't too late," said Iginla, who was fighting off U.S. defenceman Ryan Suter and falling when he made the pass. "There's different pitches to a guy's voice when he's yelling for it. This was pretty urgent, so I knew he had a step. I didn't see it go in, I just heard everybody yelling, and saw him jumping around, so I knew we won."

"What did you yell at Iggy?" a reporter asked.

"Iggy!" said Crosby, laughing.

Thanks, Sid, most of all, for delivering your country from the nervous breakdown it was all set to suffer after Team USA's Zach Parise tied the game with 24.4 seconds left in regulation time, making all of Canada sit on a bed of nails, wondering if the dream would all turn to dust in the final act of this 17-day passion play.

"I just shot it. I knew where the net was, but I didn't see where it went," said Crosby, whose quick release propelled the puck between the pads of U.S. goalie Ryan Miller before he had time to set for the shot. "It doesn't even feel real. It feels like a dream."

That's not how it felt for Miller.

"It feels like shit," said the Buffalo Sabres star, who stopped 36 of 39 Canadian shots, but not the last one. And fittingly, somehow, it was Crosby, the 22-year-old poster boy for Canadian hockey, who pulled the trigger. Great ones do that, and you never quite know why the chance ends up on their stick, but it does.

"That's Sid for you," said Canadian centre Ryan Getzlaf. "There's a reason he's the best player in the world. He shows up in those big moments."

"A great player made a great play," said U.S. coach Ron Wilson. "I think both teams are winners, and maybe more than anything, hockey in general."

The game was an all-out NHL war of rival cultures but identical styles.

There was never a comfortable moment all afternoon for either side, because there wasn't a lot of room to play and no time to think. Even at 2-0, after Jonathan Toews and Corey Perry had Canada ahead at the game's midpoint, the only people who couldn't seem to figure out how tenuous a lead it was were the supposedly savvy Canadian fans.

They began chanting, nonsensically, "Miller! Miller!" in derision at the American goalie - exactly the sort of cocky nonsense that has a habit of backfiring, and did, when Ryan Kesler tipped Patrick Kane's shot past Roberto Luongo with the chant still hanging in the air.

That guaranteed a frantic third period with everything on the line and not a hair's breadth of difference between the teams.

Mike Richards (fanned on a Rick Nash centring pass), Eric Staal (shot wide on a breakaway) and Crosby (stick-checked by Patrick Kane on a breakaway) all missed chances to salt it away, and Shea Weber and Chris Pronger hit goalposts in the third, and the sense of dread built and built through the final minutes.

When Luongo couldn't field a long hopeful shot from the point by Joe Pavelski about 40 seconds from the end, the loose puck sparked a free-for-all that looked a lot like the final, panicky seconds of the Slovakia semifinal, with one small difference.

This time, Luongo didn't make the miracle save. Kane's shot from the faceoff circle was headed wide but hit U.S. captain Jamie Langenbrunner's skate and Parise took the rebound off Luongo's pads and shovelled it home with 24.4 seconds separating Team Canada from the gold.

"It was disappointing, we were so close to getting there," said the Canucks' goaltender, who was serenaded after every save, however routine, with the usual "Loooooooo!"

This town - and this country - was praying for him to finally put his stamp on a career-defining victory, and perhaps this will turn out to be it.

"I'll leave that up to you guys. You be the judge of that, but I've got a gold medal around my neck, and no one can take that away from me," he said ."That was real fun. Not so much the last 20 seconds of the third, but the feeling that goes through your body when Sid scores that goal . . . it's unreal.

"It's just fitting, I think, that Sid would get it. It was kind of a sharp angle, but I've seen that release before, and it's hard to pick up. Shoot it quick like that, its tough to close it."

This Canadian team had much to be proud of Sunday, not least of which was the ability to perform with an entire nation holding its breath.

"You know, at the end of the day, you've just got to play the game," said defenceman Chris Pronger, who was terrific in the finale. "You can't worry about the media, the fans, the country's expectations - we put high expectations on ourselves from the beginning, probably more than people understand."

"It's pretty cool," said Iginla, paying tribute to the larger Olympic team of which Canada's male hockey players represented but a single gold. "You know, you watch other Olympics, and see the gold-medal hunt, and we're not really in it - we were looking for our first gold medal ever at home . . .

"And suddenly here we are setting the record, and we get to be part of that. That's a very proud and awesome feeling."

ccolevancouversun.com

Organizations: Buffalo Sabres, NHL, Team Canada Canucks

Geographic location: Canada, U.S., VANCOUVER Slovakia

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Recent comments

  • Todd
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    Peter, Plus/Minus is the most overrated stat in hockey. There are 4 other people on the ice and it is unfair to pin the blame on one person's shoulders but I have to admit that you are right, I mean really what has Sidney Crosby done in such a short career? He only scored 102 points in his rookie season, then the next year he won the scoring title (the only teen to do that in any pro league in North America), the Hart trophy and Lester B Pearson Award. Then in his next season he becomes the youngest ever to captain his team to the Stanley Cup. This year, he is only tied for the league lead in goals. He had 7 points in the Olympics and when Canada needed him the most he came through. From that list above, I can see why you might think Cleary would have been a better choice.

    Oh, by the way, what were you doing when you were 22 years old?

  • Telling it how Id
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    I agree with peter.

    In the 87 Canada Cup Wayne Gretzky had 21 points in what I believe was 7 games.

    This is the Paul Henderson moment of the 21st century.

    He scored the goal, congratulations.

    However, the efforts of other Team Canada players will be forgotten, for example Luongo, Toews, Pronger, Iginla.

    They might have won as a team, but people will remember this goal and nothing else in 4 years.

  • Wes
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    While Peter is cetainly entitled to his opinion, from where I sit, this tournament showcased some of the best hockey Ive seen in my short 33 years - especially the two Canada vs USA games. There is a reason why the IOC changed the rules to allow professional hockey players in the tournament - it makes for better hockey! Regarding Sid the Kid's performance, the best hockey players make it their job to be in a position on the ice where a well placed pass makes it into the back of the net. Miller said himself he wasn't expecting such a quick release - you call it good fortune, and maybe you are right, but isn't it almost always good fortune anytime a team wins a tournament on a single shot in overtime? The bottom line is he made the game winning shot (and 23 more canadians went home with a gold medal around their necks). Celebrating that fact shouldn't undermine his contribution to the tournament.

  • Jason
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Someone needs a hug. C'mere Pete...

  • peter
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    Hi Todd,

    You would be surprised what I was doing at 22. Now one has to look at others who contribute to society in a different way. In other words there are those who do not shoot rubber discs into a net but rather work to improve society.

    Is the hero the fellow who shot a puck or those in Afghanistan watching him?

    While we are at it Todd who should be paid more? A soldier risking life or Sid shooting a puck?

    I am not a soldier or a professional sportsman I however contributed and continue to do for societal issues that are far more pressing than a rubber disc going in a net or a dimpled ball in a hole.

  • sean
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    To Peter, you obviously are not very knowledgeable about hockey. It is a tough game and yes players do have their ups and downs but when it was all said and done, Crosby delivered. So get over yourself Peter.....you are small, cynical and not very important.

  • peter
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    You are kidd ing right? The fellow underperformed all tournament and was fortunate to be on the other end of a stick where a puck was placed and that the American goalie had a rare lapse. What was Crosby's plus minus? How many face-offs did he lose? How many times did he miss his chance, including the breakaway which would have ended the game in regulation time?
    I do not believe it is his fault, the league for commercial purposes must have a Crosby. Therefore the over-hyping of one player is inevitable.
    I listened to the tripe from the 4 wannabes (the commentators) as they explained of Crosby's under-performance, that he was a magnet. He steps on the ice and everybody flocks to stop him, rendering him neutered. If that is the case why have him on the team? In this way Canada is always a man short. Don't kid yourself it only takes one opposition player to tie Sydney up. That leaves 4 on 4 where our team is missing the value of the superstar.
    It is out of control, the NHL commercialization has even taken over the Olympics. Please change the system so that only Junior players who have not yet become professional participate.
    The old Soviet Red Army is gone and all countries have Junior programs. Take the spoiled millionaires out.
    I have never seen such a spectacle where a hockey player actually outshone the absolutely magnificent performances of amateur athletes.

  • Todd
    July 01, 2010 - 20:25

    Peter, Plus/Minus is the most overrated stat in hockey. There are 4 other people on the ice and it is unfair to pin the blame on one person's shoulders but I have to admit that you are right, I mean really what has Sidney Crosby done in such a short career? He only scored 102 points in his rookie season, then the next year he won the scoring title (the only teen to do that in any pro league in North America), the Hart trophy and Lester B Pearson Award. Then in his next season he becomes the youngest ever to captain his team to the Stanley Cup. This year, he is only tied for the league lead in goals. He had 7 points in the Olympics and when Canada needed him the most he came through. From that list above, I can see why you might think Cleary would have been a better choice.

    Oh, by the way, what were you doing when you were 22 years old?

  • Telling it how Id
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    I agree with peter.

    In the 87 Canada Cup Wayne Gretzky had 21 points in what I believe was 7 games.

    This is the Paul Henderson moment of the 21st century.

    He scored the goal, congratulations.

    However, the efforts of other Team Canada players will be forgotten, for example Luongo, Toews, Pronger, Iginla.

    They might have won as a team, but people will remember this goal and nothing else in 4 years.

  • Wes
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    While Peter is cetainly entitled to his opinion, from where I sit, this tournament showcased some of the best hockey Ive seen in my short 33 years - especially the two Canada vs USA games. There is a reason why the IOC changed the rules to allow professional hockey players in the tournament - it makes for better hockey! Regarding Sid the Kid's performance, the best hockey players make it their job to be in a position on the ice where a well placed pass makes it into the back of the net. Miller said himself he wasn't expecting such a quick release - you call it good fortune, and maybe you are right, but isn't it almost always good fortune anytime a team wins a tournament on a single shot in overtime? The bottom line is he made the game winning shot (and 23 more canadians went home with a gold medal around their necks). Celebrating that fact shouldn't undermine his contribution to the tournament.

  • Jason
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    Someone needs a hug. C'mere Pete...

  • peter
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    Hi Todd,

    You would be surprised what I was doing at 22. Now one has to look at others who contribute to society in a different way. In other words there are those who do not shoot rubber discs into a net but rather work to improve society.

    Is the hero the fellow who shot a puck or those in Afghanistan watching him?

    While we are at it Todd who should be paid more? A soldier risking life or Sid shooting a puck?

    I am not a soldier or a professional sportsman I however contributed and continue to do for societal issues that are far more pressing than a rubber disc going in a net or a dimpled ball in a hole.

  • sean
    July 01, 2010 - 19:57

    To Peter, you obviously are not very knowledgeable about hockey. It is a tough game and yes players do have their ups and downs but when it was all said and done, Crosby delivered. So get over yourself Peter.....you are small, cynical and not very important.

  • peter
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    You are kidd ing right? The fellow underperformed all tournament and was fortunate to be on the other end of a stick where a puck was placed and that the American goalie had a rare lapse. What was Crosby's plus minus? How many face-offs did he lose? How many times did he miss his chance, including the breakaway which would have ended the game in regulation time?
    I do not believe it is his fault, the league for commercial purposes must have a Crosby. Therefore the over-hyping of one player is inevitable.
    I listened to the tripe from the 4 wannabes (the commentators) as they explained of Crosby's under-performance, that he was a magnet. He steps on the ice and everybody flocks to stop him, rendering him neutered. If that is the case why have him on the team? In this way Canada is always a man short. Don't kid yourself it only takes one opposition player to tie Sydney up. That leaves 4 on 4 where our team is missing the value of the superstar.
    It is out of control, the NHL commercialization has even taken over the Olympics. Please change the system so that only Junior players who have not yet become professional participate.
    The old Soviet Red Army is gone and all countries have Junior programs. Take the spoiled millionaires out.
    I have never seen such a spectacle where a hockey player actually outshone the absolutely magnificent performances of amateur athletes.