Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Today's Not-So-Funny

Hey, gang! I've just thought of the most clever riddle...

Q: What do you get when you cross some of the best Canadian NHL talent with the coaching skills of Pat Quinn?

A: Nothing.

Ha! I kill me!

But seriously... Finally, the rest of the country can now experience that exquisite, pit-of-your-stomach disappointment that Toronto Maple Leaf fans have come to refer to as "the usual". That's right, in case you haven't heard (seriously, who the heck hasn't heard?), Team Canada has been eliminated from Men's Olympic Hockey in the quarter-finals by Russia.

Not that I'm surprised.

Leading up to the Olympics, all you heard on TV or the radio was how talented Canada's Men's team was... How, with the depth available to us, we could have put together two medal contending teams... How they were going to bring home the gold for the second time in a row.

Ouch. Missed it by that much.

Everybody went nuts when Canada won their first two games, out-scoring their opponents 11 goals to 3... But I think we forgot that these games were against Italy and Germany. Come on! Italy and Germany? What did we expect? It wasn't until the Swiss beat them in a 2-0 shutout that eyebrows started to raise. Switzerland? Better known for bank accounts and army knives than hockey? Huh. Must have been an off day.

Yeah, I wish.

The loss to the Swiss (and the subsequent losses that have landed the team in the same embarrassing boat as our American counterparts) pointed out the one glaring flaw in Canada's quest for the gold: There is no "Team" in "Team Canada".

Plain and simple, the boys never gelled. Instead of looking like the powerhouse they were professed to be, they looked more like a bunch of NHL Alumni playing an impromptu exhibition game. No cohesion, no jump, no fire.

Some will say that it was the absence of guys like Lemieux or Stevie Y... Some will say it was the distraction of the controversy surrounding Gretzky... Some will say it was the tough NHL schedule leading up to the Games. Whatever. These were all things they knew about before they even left for the Olympics. It wasn't like they got to Italy, looked around and said, "Hey! Where's Mario?" or "We have to play Olympic hockey? But I just played 2 months of gruelling NHL hockey!" or "I'm so upset and distracted by this whole Gretzky scandal... I'm not sure I can concentrate on my game. Did you even know you could bet on sporting events?" No, they knew it all going in and I doubt any of these things had anything to do with their, shall we say, less than admirable performance.

So, I stand by my belief that the blame lies on Pat Quinn's shoulders, and his shoulders alone. As the coach, it was his job to take this group of All-Stars and mold them into an All-Star team. It was his responsibility to put together lines with players who complimented each other ("My, those are lovely shin guards you have on today, Joe.", "Why, thank you, Iggy!"). And it was his responsibility to motivate those players to bring their "A" games... as a team. He can't point the finger at anyone, unless he's facing a mirror. Period.

Oh well. You lose some, you lose some, eh Quinn?

Thanks for nothin'.
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