No, I have never participated (when will they introduce Olympic remote-controlling?), but I am a big fan of the Olympics, the only time when the world stops to take it all in. I wish we could capture the Olympic spirit on a daily basis. And I wish the North American hockey teams captured it as well. These Olympics have proven to the world that the continent which invented the sport is no longer among the best. The highly touted teams from both genders have mostly failed in their attempt at Olympic glory. The Canadien women are exempt, as they had an easy time beating Sweden for the gold, albeit without facing the US women. The US men could only win one game out of six, while the Canadian team was shut out in 3 games, including the clincher against Russia. Nary a North American citizen will compete for any medals in hockey. How could this happen?
Pride. Passion. Determination. These three common components were displayed by each team that beat up team NA. Russia lost their first game, but have been unbeatable since. Slovakia has been amazing. Even the Swiss team won more games than team USA. I'll give you a kudo if you can name 3 players from the Swiss team, no googling allowed. While the European teams seem to play great team defense, they also play an offense the way an offense is supposed to be played. As team NA continued their tradition of dump and chase hockey, team Europe carried the puck over the blue line, setting up many scoring chances. While team NA counted of their physicality, team Europe evaded that strategy by beating them to the puck. While team Europe remained composed during critical times of the game, team NA fell apart by commiting penalities, breaking down defensively, and losing their cool. These games were exciting. If you weren't a hockey fan before the Olympics, you should be now. The bad news is that each player soon returns to the watered down NHL, with dump and chase hockey back in the forefront. My wife will not miss my chants for the Swedish teams. BooYah Svayyah (Sverige) has been echoing in my house each time the Swedes made a goal or won a game. I like to tell people that I am Swedish, but only third generation. That provides me with a backup team when the hyped up US teams/individuals fail. It's been working for twenty years and I have no intention of changing.
So what does this mean for hockey on the world stage? Only time will tell. But if team NA wants to make an impact in Vancouver in 2010, then a new approach must be taken. Bring on the WBC.