By John Leung
What a tournament it has been! With NHL labour strife almost certain, this is the last we’ll see of our beloved hockey heroes for a while. Team Canada, with the gold from Salt Lake City in hand, has finally overcome the heartbreak of the previous World Cup final against the Americans in 1996. Now we’ve completed the mission that was not completed then; claim the World Cup of Hockey.
Wrestling the trophy away from a strong Finnish challenge, the Canadians came out on top with a 3-2 win over the Scandinavians in an epic struggle to determine the world’s best.
So what lessons have we learned from this tournament? Let’s take a gander:
Youth does not always translate into victory: The Russians banked on all youth when they could not get some of their big names, that only got them so far. On the other hand, the Americans solely relied on age and experience, which cost them big time in the round robin and eventually in the semi-final against Finland. So, banking on just youth or age is a terrible mistake.
Sweden can really sink like the Vasa: The Swedes did so well in the round robin, but when it mattered the most they totally collapsed and sank to the bottom of Stockholm harbour. Even with so many big name snipers on the decks defending the forecastle, they still managed to suck when it mattered. It’s not exactly a way to construct a World Cup winning team.
The Germans aren’t so bad after all: They may not have won a game the entire tournament, but they’ve shown that they have a ton of potential in their close quarter-final loss to Finland. They are a power waiting to grow, but for brevity’s sake, the Germans need more than just Jochen Hecht and Marco Sturm in the NHL!
Miikka Kiprusoff is still a god: Even though he lost the game for Finland in the final, he still led the Flames to within a single game of a Stanley Cup victory. He also taught us Calgarians to believe in the Flames again. His amazing goaltending has carried his country so close to two major championships. Third time lucky for ole’ Miikka perhaps?
The Czechs can be deceiving: They started slowly, building up the clever deception that they weren’t quite the same team that took the gold medal at the Nagano Olympics in 1998. But when the world least expected it they struck like an angry cobra, catching the Swedes by complete surprise before devouring them whole. They even almost had Canada in their sharp fangs before Vincent Lecavalier defeated the Czechs in OT. But this is not over, for while the Czechs have lost this war, another shall take place.
Being Olympic gold medalists has its perks: When you’re a world champion in one event, others are more than likely to try to beat you with either a variation of your strategy or one that they believe can topple you. In this case, Canada has found a formula that no one has solved yet. Champions are built on these formulas and Canada has emerged as this year’s champion.
We’re not getting any bloody hockey for a while: Those whiners in the NHL and the NHLPA must stop being such a bunch of babies and start actually talking for real instead of trying to snipe at each other through the media.