Volume 94, Issue 61
Thursday, January 11, 2001
Canuck confidence lost
I am a proud Canadian. But according to the coach of our national junior hockey team, Stan Butler, I am not a true Canadian because I'm not happy about our boys bringing home bronze.
Come on! This is exactly the kind of attitude that has gotten our past hockey teams into trouble the 'well, we can't win 'em all attitude.' It's the same attitude that Canadian athletes have been infamous for in every other sport except hockey. How many times have you heard a Canadian Olympian say that they are just happy to be there and that they give their personal best? And how many times have you wanted to hear them say, "I've come to Sydney to win gold anything else, and I'll be disappointed."
That's what Canadians said when it came to playing hockey; win gold or hang your head.
To me, this is where Canadian hockey went wrong. It's not the players or the coaching or the style we play that needs changing, it's our attitudes. Canadians, in general, are not cocky or confident. But our hockey players were.
The common misconception is that Canadian hockey has always been dominant, but that is not the case. We haven't won an Olympic gold medal in a very long time. When we finally matched our best against the Russians in '72, we had to come back from behind to get the win. And during the several Canada Cup series in the 80s, we won, but the score was generally a nail-biting and exhilarating 6-5 game.
Gold medals were never just handed to Team Canada, they were won. And that's the biggest difference between teams now, and those of the past.
They won. Plain and simple.
So when one of our teams doesn't come home with gold and I'm disappointed, don't tell me I'm not Canadian. I really respect and appreciate what these players are doing, playing at the highest level of hockey in the world, something I could only dream of. But these guys need to get the swagger back. The attitude and the desire to win at all costs was what set Canada apart from the rest of the world, not our talent pool or our coaching. The magic needs to return.
Canadian hockey players need to step up when it counts most and find a way to win. It used to be that Canada would always score the decisive goal and wouldn't miss on any opportunities. It seemed as though throughout this year's version of the junior championship, there wasn't that player that you knew was going to come through no Lemieux or Gretzky, no Henderson or Esposito.
The passive Canadian attitude has crept into our game, a game we once ruled through determination, confidence and grit. We need that back. Unfortunately, it cannot be worked on in practice, it has to come from inside each player, which is much easier said than done.
On a side note...The Toronto Maple Leafs, in order to win the Stanley Cup this year and possibly the next couple, need to get Rob Blake, no matter the cost.
Anyone who says youngsters Nik Antropov or Tomas Kaberle are too much to pay for Blake's services are idiots. This guy is a Norris Trophy candidate every year for the next five years. With him on the blueline, Curtis Joseph becomes that much more unbeatable.
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