What a difference a year makes when it comes to hockey. Twelve months ago, the NHL was still sputtering after the lengthy lockout, and fans across Canada were in an ugly mood. Now all of us are basking in the glow of what happened in Sochi.
Led by great prairie boys like Getzlaff, Kunitz and Toews, Team Canada won their second straight Olympic gold, and their first on the big ice. A few days earlier, our Canadian women made it four golds in a row, in what may have been the most exciting Olympic hockey game ever.
It’s still very much our game, and the whole world knows it. Even the Aga Khan, spiritual leader of millions of Shia muslims, got into the act when he spoke to Canada’s parliament. Aga Khan audio: “I was hoping you would require your honourary citizens to join your team. I’m convinced that the Dalai Lama and I would have been a formidable defense.”
Hopefully the bean counters like Gary Bettman can be persuaded that hockey’s greatest stars should be allowed to do it again in South Korea four years from now. The Yankee billionaires who now own more than half of the big league teams, are supporting Bettman’s view that the Olympics are bad for business.
There’s no doubt that sending players thousands of miles to the other side of the world in the middle of the season is an expensive nuisance especially when some of them, like John Tavares of the Islanders come home with injuries that mean their season is over.
Bettman and his boys are determined to put together a World Cup tournament starting next year. It will be played at the end of summer, but it will never replace the Olympics for Canadian hockey fans.
I mean what other reason can you think of that would get Canadians up before sunrise to drink beer and watch hockey on a Sunday?
Now, let’s get those Jets into the playoffs!
I’m Roger Currie