The Canadian Olympic Committee was the big newsmaker of the week when they officially unveiled the recycled water bottle jerseys Team Canada would wear at the upcoming 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
There was much criticism when these jerseys were unveiled, “they’re too boring”, “what was wrong with the old ones?”, “Petro Canada!”. I’m going to try and look at them from a different angle, one in which they’re not that terrible, especially when placed in context with what the national team has worn in Olympic games past.
This jersey combines two historical uniforms very special to Hockey Canada on the international stage. The first is the 1920 Summer Olympic Hockey jersey (yes, summer) worn by the very first Olympic gold medal winning Canadian hockey team. Canada played three games and won them all outscoring their opponents 29-1 in the process. Absolute domination. The world was warned, Canada owns hockey, and they continued to do so winning gold at every Olympic games (except one) through 1952. The jersey that team wore was yellow but also featured a single horizontal stripe across the chest with nothing but a maple leaf on it. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Read the rest of this entry »
(Fabrice Coffini, Getty Images)
In the early 80′s, when Wayne Gretzky dominated the Art Ross race repeatedly, fantasy hockey pools and leagues were forced to either ban Gretzky entirely or split his goals and assists. Gretzky’s dominance was so total that he sometimes had more assists than other players had points, making Gretzky’s Assists a legitimately good first overall selection in a fantasy draft.
While Team Canada isn’t anywhere near as dominant in international hockey as Gretzky was during the 80′s, but because of the depth of talent in Canada, there is always an argument that a second Team Canada could be created, participate in the Olympics, and finish in the medals. Perhaps that’s hubris, but it’s understandable hubris given how much talent has to be cut from the team.
On Monday, Canada announced their Olympic orientation camp roster, inviting 47 players to attend. Even that generous camp roster managed to upset some hockey fans, as several significant players, such as Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza, and Patrick Marleau.
So, I got to thinking. Sure, you could create an excellent B-Team from those cut from Team Canada’s camp. But could you create a viable international team from those not even invited to the camp? In other words, not the B-Team, or even the B-Minus Team: the C-Plus Team. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s sort of amazing what happens when people who don’t get a lot of attention get a bit of attention. The expressions of emotion at the Olympic games, unlike any other sport, seem genuine and not forced.
Who knows why this is, but perhaps because the day-to-day routine of athletes visiting with a few beat writers or appearing in scrums is all we know of most professional athletes. This makes a sprinter much different than a hockey player. A sprinter walks into a building with 80,000 screaming fans once every four years in front of the world media and world audiences. Of course they’d soak that up a little.
I really enjoyed the 100m dash. There isn’t a practical use to being able to run really fast for a short distance, but it’s become the staple of the games. It’s simple and nearly everybody can do it. I could walk three blocks to a park and calculate my own theoretical time against Usain Bolt or Asafa Powell and it won’t be a blowout by thirty or forty minutes like the 10k run would be, if I could even finish 10k. Anybody has the endurance to sprint 100 metres.
And they’re all showmen. That’s become part of the allure of the sport. As the sprinters were lining up, each had his own few seconds of face-time, and as athletes competing in an amateur event, they need to raise their stock and awareness. They need to smile for the camera and do the things the sponsors love. Richard Thompson danced and, like Bolt did in the semifinals, did some shadow boxing before saluting the crowd. Asafa Powell glared at the camera. Yohan Blake struck a pose before laughing at the reaction of the crowd. Justin Gatlin walked away from the camera and saluted the crowd.
Read the rest of this entry »