Got hooked on Olympic hockey

I’m not a fan of hockey, or at least I should say I’m not a fan of NHL hockey.
Please don’t run me out of town on a rail; I have other redeeming qualities (I hope). I feel as though I will be stripped of my status as a Canadian, but I beg you to reconsider.
Hockey more recently has seemed like a game of thugs pounding on each other with the intent to harm. I find the fighting disgusting and truly fear the example it sets to our children: if you can’t get what you want, then pound someone out or hit him with violence in mind—even if it shortens his life and/or ends his career.
The players wear space-age armour so they can take and give harder and harder hits (I’ll keep my thoughts on Don Cherry to myself).
However, I got hooked on Olympic hockey and I’m still standing tall since our teams prevailed. The Canadian women dazzled us with their hockey wizardry coming from behind in such a fearless manner.
Meanwhile, I’m still standing at attention and singing “O Canada” since the men prevailed and took home the gold less than three hours ago (as I write this).
I watched the game in my basement, next to the woodstove with two kittens snoring on my legs. Apparently, hockey isn’t their thing despite their own violence toward one another (seems hypocritical of them but that’s just my opinion).
After the second goal, I never doubted Canada could hold off the Swedes. Our defence was brilliant, even to my very untrained eye, and it was beyond any superlative I might come up with.
There were no fights, no dirty hits from behind, no concussion-causing slams into the boards; and the win was dependent upon pure skill.
I was impressed and on my feet for each of the three goals and high-fived myself—somehow feeling some credit for the goal by my merely being Canadian (a Canadian who can’t skate to save her life, I might add).
At the end of the game, while waiting for my heart rate to return to normal, I watched each player receive his medal and I sang “O Canada” at the top of my lungs with the players and fans.
The kittens my have winced and “Gracie” barked from outside in the event someone was murdering me.
These hockey players already are stars in their own right—shining from the pack of ordinary hockey players while they were growing up and taking their place on the elite stage of the NHL.
During the Sweden game, Canada played like little boys on the backyard rink—desperate for a win; wanting it more than anything they could imagine.
The media can be tough on these hockey players. They certainly made the fans aware during each game that Sidney Crosby had yet to score a goal. And even after he did, assured us that this was his only goal of the entire Olympic games, as if that somehow mattered.
It got me thinking about the rest of the Canadian team. I listened to Patrick Chan apologize for not getting gold. Apologize? He has sacrificed everything that resembles a normal life to train for figure skating, as do all of the athletes who represent our country.
How on earth do they owe anyone an apology while the rest of us watch from the sofa? When did our hopes change into something like deserved expectation?
When this goes to press, the Winter Olympics will be a memory. We all will suffer from post-Olympic withdrawal and wonder what to do with our free time.
I’ll miss witnessing our brilliant curlers showing the world how it’s done. And I will remember our extraordinary sense of fair play and good sportsmanship when Justin Wadsworth, the Canadian coach, ran out with a spare ski to rescue the Russian skier so he could cross the finish line.
Those are the moments that will live on for me long after I can’t remember who won gold and who didn’t.
wendistewart@live.ca

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