What happened to the old Canada?
You remember those conscientious objectors to the north, North America's answer to Switzerland, the guys who never seemed to mind playing Bryan Adams to our Bruce Springsteen.
But over the past two weeks, there's been more controversy in the Great White North than when Bill Clinton was in the Great White House.
First it was Skate Gate, when Canadian figure skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier were awarded a gold medal after some shady judges originally gave them the silver. All five Canadian figure skating fans were outraged. No big deal, eh. It's just figure skating.
Now it's Skate Gate, Part Deux. Now it's hockey. Now it's serious.
After Monday night's 3-3 tie against the Czech Republic in Team Canada's last game before the Medal Round, Wayne Gretzky, executive director of the Canadian team and the best player to ever lace up his skates, lashed out at his country's critics.
"It almost sickens me to turn the TV on because I'm such a proud Canadian ... It makes me ill to hear some of things that are being said about us," Gretzky told the Associated Press.
What things Wayner? That your team is good? That Canada was the favorite to win gold almost as soon as Salt Lake City was announced as the host?
The 2002 edition of Team Canada is one of the most talented teams to ever take the ice and this is from a country that has won 12 medals in ice hockey - two more than both Russia and the United States.
Gretzky went on to say he was tired of people "taking shots" at Canadian hockey.
"I don't think we dislike those other countries as much as they hate us," he said. "They don't like us. They want to see us fail. They love beating us."
Ease up there, hoss.
Who exactly hates Canada? Who's anything but ambivalent toward Canucks?
Sure there were those French-Canadians like Alex Trebec and Celine Dion, but everyone knows Quebec ain't Canada.
I, for one, think you guys are great. You use dollars as currency, so do I. In fact, my few Yankee bucks buy me a couple more Molsons in Montreal than they do here in the States. You guys like beer? Me too! You gave me Dan Aykroyd, John Candy and the McKenzie Brothers. Thanks, eh.
You guys used to be just like America, only with more snow, fancier geese and a really funny way of saying 'house.' But start ripping on your hockey team and you start whining like Nancy Kerrigan.
Point is, Wayner, your Canadian team (sans the all-time greatest goalie Patrick Roy) has played like they have in almost every Olympics since Innsbruck in 1964 - about as hot as a high noon in Saskatoon, which is to say pretty damn cold. Team Canada won silver in 1994 and 1992, but before Albertville hadn't placed in the top three since a bronze in 1968.
Nobody likes a crybaby, Wayner, especially when it's a guy who happens to be the all-time NHL points leader. And what's this about (imagine the accent) calling all the criticism "American propaganda"?
Excuse the fact that Canada is 1-1-1 heading into the elimination round and that America is 2-0-1 and gets to play Germany. It's not our fault the boys have chemistry. It's a documented fact - every time the Olympics have been held on American soil, the US has walked away with a gold medal in ice hockey. Squaw Valley in 1960, Lake Placid in 1980. Maybe Salt Lake in 2002?
So what if NBC's Olympic hockey analysts have been a little excited about an American team that closely resembles the Chicago Blackhawks from NHL '94 with Jeremy Roenick, Chris Chelios, Gary Suter and Tony Amonte. It's not so much the analysts - it's Roenick, he's good. Heck, half those NBC hosers are Canadian anyway.
But Wayner, I understand. You know hockey as well as anybody and I'm quite positive you didn't become the NHL's all-time assists and goals leader by being stupid. You know what it takes to win and you know how to motivate people on the ice. I'm sure it's all a ploy. Something to fire up the guys heading into the elimination games. Something to stop all Canada's silver-meddling.
Team Canada hockey, eh?
Published: Wed Feb 20, 2002 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 04:06 p.m.