I noticed weather reports predicting more cold and snow for most of the northern states of the United States. From what I recall of my earlier life in that country, this is rather normal for this time of year. Winter is cold and snow falls frequently. I remember snow covering the ground some years from November to March and many days off from school.
Unlike hockey players today, who are spoiled by artificial ice and indoor arenas, we hoped for cold to freeze the pond and feared snow, which had to be shoveled before we could play. I wonder if today’s youth is tough enough. I remember two Canadians arguing about players being coddled in indoor rinks. The conversation, in part, as follows:
First: "It’s not heated, so it’s just as cold as outside."
Second: "Maybe, but the don’t have to buck the wind."
My point is that winter is winter....except in Germany. We have had the warmest temperatures on record and no snow. Flowers are blooming and fruit trees are blossoming. No longer playing hockey, I prefer the milder winter. I do not miss shoveling snow. That said, I happy to sympathize with anyone needing sympathy.
The Canada-US game was, partly, a battle of goalies. But, it was also a matter of statistics. Canada outshot the US by about 2 to 1, which meant that they had a better chance of putting one in the net. The one goal was a nice one, so no one can claim that the victory was not deserved.
In case anyone failed to find humor in the game, this happened elsewhere. Check out the below link...
Anyone that has watched Olympic ice hockey might have noticed what looks like cheerleaders in the stands. Americans are used to this feature at football games, where each team has its own troupe.
Gyrating girls in the stands seem to be normal at Russian rinks, which I first noticed watching KHL games. These girls are a cross between cheerleaders and go-go girls, whose role seems to be to animate fans of both teams and entertain during breaks in play. In stead of performing in front, they do it beside fans on the steps. Women’s liberation has not progressed quite as far in Russia. (Cheerleaders at NHL games seem to be a holdover from darker days). Women are more-often seen as objects and available to male entertainment. Being useful to older men was/is one way for young girls to escape the drudgery of having little money. Of course, this goes on everywhere in the world, but seems a bit more blatant in Russia, as it was during Soviet times.
The girls in Sochi are a service provided by the organizing committee and do what they usually do. I’m sure that they were a bit more animated during Russian games, but who can blame them. Now, that the Russian team is in hiding, the girls can concentrate equally of fans of both teams. I’m sure that they are happy to be part of the spectacle, which is better venue than a rink in, say, Novosibirsk or Murmansk or other garden spots having a KHL team.
Let’s face facts about the Winter Olympic Games. The only medal worth winning is the gold medal in men’s ice hockey. The other events are only fillers. All athletes are amateurs or receive support from their government. All are merely showing off what they do as a hobby. Of course, biathlon and cross-country skiing are physically demanding and figure skating takes skill, practices, and rhythm, but there’s no money in either. And, we all know that money is the deciding factor in every aspect of human life. This explains why the NHL will not renew the agreement to allow their players to compete in the Olympic Games, thus allowing a bunch of college kids and amateurs to compete in the future...and preventing the kind of embarrassment suffered by the Russian team.
I do not know the numbers, but there would be a competition between Canada, US, Russia, and Sweden for the most highly paid collection of players. Each team is “worth” millions, but that does not guarantee Olympic success. Getting a bunch of stars to work together well in a few weeks is not easy. I do not envy the Russian coaching staff, who will surely take the brunt of the criticism for failure.
The semi-final match-ups this cycle are interesting, but will preclude the possibility of a re-match of the Vancouver final (unlike with the women). There is a “North American” semi-final of US vs. Canada, and “Scandinavian” semi-final of Sweden vs. Finland. Each game is between fierce rivals, so both should be exciting. On any given day, either team can win. The final will be a match between two good teams, but will miss the rivalry factor.
Well, that was a surprise. I have not seen the game (it’s recorded), but I did spot a news crawler.
The millionaires representing Russia in hockey can go back the NHL and KHL with their heads hung. I am sure that all are avoiding bumping into the president in the hallway and are hoping to skip town in their private jets.
Now, we have to wait to see if the millionaires on the US and Canadian teams can deliver as well as the college kid of 1960...
I want to re-visit two statements that I have made in the past. First, most are aware that only a stupid person never changes his or her mind. Of course, stupid people do not understand or are not aware of this wisdom. Second, I have pointed out that women should not play ice hockey.
I am not admitting to either stupidity or changing my mind, but I do want to say something positive about women’s hockey. I still believe that this is not a sport for “girls”, but I have been impressed by the skating and stick-handling skills of the players I’ve seen at the Sochi Games. I enjoy watching the games, because they remind me of good college hockey of my youth. I do not like the overly physical state of the game at the professional level, so the more technical style of the women’s game, where body checking is not allowed, is far more pleasing. This is not unlike my opinion about women’s soccer.
The Canada-USA game was excellent hockey. Either team could have won. This was a preview of the (expected) final match-up.
I admit to being stuck in the last century, when it comes to one subject: the National Hockey League. For me, there are only six teams: Boston (of course), Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, Detroit, and New York. If asked, I could not identify the current overblown roster of uninteresting teams. Hockey is a game played outside on cold winter days; ice does not form in Florida, Arizona, Southern California, etc. In a stretch, I might accept Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, and--but only maybe, because of the mild influence of the Pacific Ocean--Vancouver. After all, these franchises are all located in a country whose television station airs Hockey Night in Canada. Have you ever heard of Hockey Night in America? Of course not. For most of that nation, ice is something to fill over-sized containers of sugary drinks or to put into alcoholic beverages.
Give me the old days of six teams, even if the Bruins have to own the cellar...
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.