Monday, March 01, 2010
When I was a university student in Toronto I would go home every summer to Sudbury. Those days were glorious. Summers up there are fine, for the most part hot, sunny and dry. I had a terrific job with the gas company from when I was sixteen until I was finished school, working outside, walking the lines checking for leaks. I'd walk miles and miles every day so I was nice and fit and I was paid well enough that I put myself through school and was flush during the summers on top of that.
That part of my life was different than this part of my life and I wouldn't trade what I have now for what I had then but those were some times. Even then I realized that this was the time to roar, that it would not come again, that when the future came knocking with bills and a home and kids, well then I had better have everything out of my system. And so I did my best to do that. ;)
I think of those days now and I think of cold beer and sunshine, pretty girls, music, friends constantly teasing and the endless laughing, soccer fields, roadtrips, cool cool waters washing over sunbrown skin, staggering out of the bar and crashing on a couch somewhere, anywhere, kissing a girl, cheap draft and shuffleboard, impromptu ball games set up at a moment's notice, barbeques and pools and bacon and eggs and coffee in a cheap diner, waking up beside someone with the cool breeze pushing in the curtains from the window overhead, the day just about to begin in one of the best ways possible.
I remember driving my parents' truck on those summers days, window rolled down, sun hot on my arm, breeze blowing in, music blaring. The bands that were my bands, the ones that are my bands even today, the Hip and U2 and REM, guys around my age who I grew up with, well those guys weren't my summer bands. It was a lot of Van Morrison and Neil Young and Springsteen and a lot of classic rock. The song though, THE summer song for me, was More Than A Feeling by Boston. I heard it the other day and just as the lyrics say I found myself slipping away.
These past two weeks and the last handful of days especially are a time that I, and I think most Canadians, will remember forever. Vancouver threw a wonderful party and even a week ago when there was some disappointment with out team's performance (especially over the lost weekend which ended with the US sending Canada to qualify for the QF), there was no doubt that 'on the ground' this was going to be an extraordinary Olympics.
And then the Canadian team finally got rolling and the successes followed one upon another. There was the courage of Rochette and the youthful joy of Virtue and Moir, the daredevil McIvor and the great champion Hughes. Redemption for these games for Morrison and Rush and Hamelin and their teammates and for the past for Kevin Martin and Jasey Jay. The fantastic women bobsleigh teams! The cross country skiers, not winning any medals, yet signifying another program that has risen from nothing to be competitive with the best in the world.
And of course the hockey. The womens' club barely looked threatened, even against their archrivals, and one wonders if there will be womens' hockey for much longer at the Olympics.
And then there was yesterday. We gathered with friends and sat through the torture. After Friday night we knew that no lead was safe and while Canada carried the play up by two we knew it could turn on a dime and so it did late in the second.
The young Americans were terrific and there seems to me no doubt that they will be our chief rival in the years to come. Led by Kane and Kesler and Miller they kept coming but in the third Canada pushed back and for most of the period it was the red and white that carried the play. Two posts and Heatley's missed chance and Kane catching Crosby on his breakaway were far too many opportunities to waste and so at the end Parise stuck in a dagger and we grew quiet, just seconds from celebration.
And then in overtime again it was Canada pushing forward, going for it all, and in the end, as it often is, it was a sudden shot that did it, emerging from nowhere, a puck won along the boards by the veteran Iginla, a hero eight years ago as a kid, a hero again, getting the puck to the favourite son of the hockey gods, Crosby.
We jumped up and down and hugged and cheered and sang the anthem proudly. Years from now we'll remember sharing the experience and it will bring smiles to our faces.
Final impressions? Toews is all that and more and while the captaincy for Canada in the future will be Crosby's it will be the young Hawks' captain who will be the backbone of our national club. What a player.
Nash and Morrow and Richards and Perry all rose in my estimation. Getzlaf as well, once he got going, although he's, how would I describe it, lumbering? As for his being sent out at the end to protect the lead, well he was the only Canadian who seemed to be able to win a draw (and he did at the end, twice) and that had to have been Babcock's thinking.
I liked Marleau's compete a lot and Thornton too, although the latter is far too slow for these competitions. As for Heatley, well I'm biased of course, but he had the insurance on his stick and couldn't roof it and for me he'll always be a guy who fills the Latvians and Poles but doesn't do a damn thing when the chips are down.
Then again what can you say about a tournament where the quality of competition is so high that NHL stars are reduced to bit players? Guys like Bergeron and Stastny and Seabrook and Kessel, reduced to afterthoughts.
As for Crosby what can you say? I think he may have had a bigger tournament without those wingers. Iggy was solid but he's a soldier at this level now and Staal looked lost on the wing. After all that though the Maritimer came through with one of the big goals in Canada's long storied hockey history.
Pronger was shaky through the whole tournament until the final game where he was just fine and Boyle also overcame a slow start. Keith and Doughty are the future, well, Keith is the present really, him and Weber. And old Niedermeyer came through one more time, even though Parise got behind him and Weber there, the old man was very good, one last time.
And Luongo was as good as he had to be and that was pretty damn good I thought. Good for him.
Hell, truth be told I haven't a bad thing to say about anyone right now, who am I kidding!?!?!?!?
A dozen best on bests and Canada has won eight of them and three of the last four now and its rarely easy, if ever, but goddamn its sweet.
A terrific way to cap off a wonderful two weeks that we will all remember until we're sipping burger through a straw.
And now back to the awful reality of Edmonton Oilers' hockey. After this tournament my already waning emotions about the old club team are really at thier lowest ebb in a while.
Oh well, we'll deal. Happy thoughts and all that after all.
Posted by Black Dog at 3:30 PM