The 2014 Men’s Olympic hockey tournament has officially come and gone.
In the 11 day tournament, it was Team Canada who in the end proved to be truly golden. Led by Jonathan Toews (tayz), Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf and four other players who are also NHL team captains, Team Canada was the one team that worked the hardest, fought the hardest and in the end it all played off. Team Canada was simply the best team in the Olympics, hands down, and they earned their gold for the second consecutive Winter Olympics.
The Gold Medal game saw Team Canada outlast and outplay a very solid Team Sweden on the way to a 3-0 victory in at Bolshoy Ice Dome, closing out this installment of the Winter Games. How Team Canada did it was very business like and at the same time very surgical. There were several games in the preliminary rounds where Team Canada would find themselves either tied or leading by just one goal against teams that one would have thought they should have blown out. Team Canada would probably even agree with you on that.
However, even in the tightest of contests, the Canadian entry — despite the closeness of the game — never panicked, never filched, and never hesitated to jump on the right opportunity once it presented itself. In the end, Team Canada had ice water running through their veins for the entire tournament. They have been on this stage before and knew exactly what to do, how to do it and when to do it. Goalie Carey Price may have arguably played the best hockey of his career professional or otherwise as he did not allow a goal to either Team USA or Team Sweden during the medal round. In fact, Price did not allow a goal in the last 138 minutes he was on duty between the Canadian pipes.
It also helps to have seven players on Team Canada who just happen to be team captains in the NHL. Team Canada never lacked in leadership. If you count the San Jose Sharks Patrick Marleau, who is a former team captain himself, that gives the Canadian team eight players with captain’s experience.
That makes one third of the Team Canada roster a team full of leaders right out of the gate. The remainder of the roster consisted of NHL players who have had a hand in winning either Olympic Gold or even Stanley Cups. Even the players who may have been there for the first time gained huge invaluable experience going forward in their own playing careers.
The coaching staff, led by Detroit Red Wings’ Head Coach Mike Babcock proved to be top notch across the board. Claude Julien (Head Coach, Boston Bruins), Lindy Ruff (Head Coach, Dallas Stars) and Ken Hitchcock (Head Coach, St. Louis Blues) have all coached in championship situations, whether it was in the NHL or in the Winter Olympic Games. Also, keep in mind too that there were several very strong players from Canada who are gifted NHL’ers that did not make the cut to join team Canada.
This is just to demonstrate how deep the pool is north of the border. If Canada had fielded two teams in this tournament, it’s a solid bet both would easily medal, with at least one of them taking the gold home (and the other one probably getting the silver). Canada not only takes pride in this sport and has an unquenchable passion for hockey, but they also go about it the right way. When Canada bands together, it’s all about winning for Canada and national pride. All egos are checked at the door and each player is just as important as the other all the way from Sidney Crosby to Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
No one player is bigger that the other. It’s all about one goal, and one team who works together in the best way possible in getting the best results possible.