The Last Word

BILL LANKHOF -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:12 AM ET

Team Canada won its second consecutive world junior hockey championship and its seventh gold since 1993.

Team Canada player Ryan O'Marra said they won because the team had "more emotion, more passion and more intensity."

Not to mention, Canada might do better than any other country at the world hockey championships because:

1. If you had a coach like Brent Sutter you wouldn't lose either. The guy comes across in TV interviews with a happy face that would scare a jack-o-lantern -- and that's when he's pleased with his players. Nobody needs to know what he'd look like if something made him angry, like losing.

2. Europeans and Americans believe hockey is just a game. Canadians believe it is a religion, and winning anything less than gold is a mortal sin.

3. When Russian players used to underachieve for their national teams they could be threatened with banishment to the Gulag. Now, they just go back to The Land of the Happy Meal and continue being Millionaires-in-Waiting.

4. We're low maintenance.

In most societies, survival requires nutritional food and the occasional bottle of fine wine. There now is undocumented proof that a Canadian can survive an entire winter on an ice rink with only a stick, a puck, a tuque and anything that comes out of one of those water bottles.

5. In most countries, the first thing kids learn is the alphabet. In Canada, we learn X's, O's and the neutral zone trap. Everything else is details.

INJURY REPORT

Carlo Colaiacovo and Jason Allison are lobbying to get back into the Leafs lineup this weekend. Coach Pat Quinn says he's not in a hurry.

But maybe he should let them play and get the season-ending injury over with so the team can settle down to playing without them.

BREWING UP A CHANGE

Last year at this time, Corey Koskie was the Blue Jays' designated saviour. Who would have guessed a year later the sharks would be circling and J.P. Ricciardi would help by throwing Koskie an anchor?

And you remember Sunday School and what happened to the first guy on whom the world pinned that saviour label.

Let's just say Koskie isn't the first guy to go from being worshipped to getting crucified. In sports, there is no more dangerous occupation than being hired with expectations.

THE PRESSBOX

"I guess they just ran out of real players to induct."

So says Toronto Sun corporate sports editor George Gross as he peered at the letter. It advised the Baron of Canadian sportswriting he had been selected for induction into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame.

It is in recognition of his contribution to the game in Canada. Although some people suspect it also is because he looked so darn cute in those shorts they used to make him wear.

Anyway, George collects calling cards for Halls of Fame like some people collect hockey cards.

When he is inducted April 29 it will make him a member of five sports Halls of Fame, including the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame and the Slovakia Hockey Hall of Fame.

PAPER TIGERS

Elliott Harris, Chicago Sun-Times, on Kansas City signing second baseman Mark Grudzielanek and first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz: "If the Royals had signed Nomar Garciaparra, the team's seamstress would have quit."

ANONYMITY'S TEAM

Raptors management acknowledged before the season that the team would have to build something out of nothing. Even they weren't sure who the keepers would be.

And it shows in even the little things.

For instance, an office colleague noticed a curious difference in those pocket-sized schedules the Raptors and Maple Leafs have in print. Both have the team logo on the cover.

The Leafs' pamphlet opens to photos of Mats Sundin and cheering fans. Next to the October schedule there's Darcy Tucker. December has Ed Belfour. There's Eric Lindros and Tie Domi is looking fine.

The Raptors?

Well, there's one photo of Chris Bosh. So who else are they proud of? Well, there's the mascot dunking. Does Sam Mitchell doing his version of The Scream count?

There isn't another player on whose back they tried to sell tickets in lens sight. Nada. Bumpkiss -- unless you count the cheerleader.

She's sizzlin'. But no steak.

SMART 'N' SASSY

"It's baffling to me. I set the standard for relief pitching. I never got to start out an inning with no one on base. I was brought into situations God couldn't get out of." -- Goose Gossage, frustrated that he probably won't get enough votes when Hall of Fame balloting is released Tuesday. 


Videos

Photos