Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hold your head up


Silver isn't really that bad a color. Hey, it's what the Stanley Cup is.

The United States had a hell of an Olympic tournament. Everyone and their mother had Canada and Russia pegged for the gold medal game. Finland, the 2006 silver medalist, had its supporters as a medal contender. Slovakia, with a number of talented NHL players, was labeled a sleeper pick.

And I haven't even mentioned Sweden, the 2006 gold medalist, which had literally oodles of elite talent.

That didn't leave much room for the Americans on the podium. And here they are, regretting that they won only silver medals. Not too shabby.

Of course, some countries, in some sports (read: Canada in hockey) look at it not as winning silver but losing gold. For the youngest team in the Olympics, a team facing long odds, reaching not just the medal round but the gold medal game is a tremendous accomplishment. It ended in disappointment, but Team USA should be proud of how they played and what they were able to do. I know I am.

Ryan Miller was sensational. Buffalo fans should be thrilled with that. If not for a mental lapse by Erik Johnson that led to Canada's first goal, the teams might still be playing. (Well, not really, since they end games with shootouts, but you know what I mean.)

Although the rematch favored Canada, let's not retroactively underscore the Americans' win over Canada in the preliminary round. Some people might say, "Big deal, they couldn't beat them when it counted." But the victory gave the USA the top seed in the playoff round and let them avoid teams like Canada, Russia and Sweden in the first two rounds.

If the Americans don't earn that preliminary round win, maybe they don't win a medal of any color.

After losing that game, Canada seemed to be on a mission and romped through its next two opponents, reestablishing itself as the favorite. The United States made the Canadians work for every inch in the gold medal game.

Losing in overtime is a moral victory, but a silver medal isn't a bad consolation prize for a team not many people talked about before the tournament. So, excellent job, Team USA, and congratulations on a fantastic tournament.

A congratulations also to Canada, and a shout-out to the fans for the warm reception for Miller as he received his silver medal. Very classy.

Both the USA and Canada had disappointing tournaments in 2006. Both found redemption in Vancouver. The gold meant everything to the Canadians, but the silver should also be seen as a big step for the Americans.

Hopefully Team USA makes the next leap in 2014 and brings back the gold.

1 comment:

Kirsten said...

It was amazing to watch that game. A friend of mine who was at the game had me on the phone during the medals and national anthem, and I felt it. I love watching tourneys with our neighbors to the north.

I think it was worth it to see the usually stoic Steve Yzerman jumping around like a little kid.