Stanley Cup's more important than Olympic gold

ERIN NICKS -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:40 PM ET

"If you just sit back and record what you see; the tragic and exquisite are the same to some degree. But most events depict a common theme: There's far more disorder than there is harmony."

-- Bad Religion's Mediocrity

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Amediocre performance, combined with non-existent offense and a complete lack of cohesion. That description would sum up the Canadian men's Olympic hockey team.

Meanwhile, the Canadian media have already deemed it futile to analyze, criticize or otherwise question the roster choices.

Several minutes later, some have been caught in a fevered discussion. The subject? Staal vs. Bertuzzi. Sigh.

According to some, we're not supposed to critique the roster selections. We're not to fault the coaches or front office, up to and including Wayne Gretzky (who has been willing to shoulder all of the blame, regardless).

Am I permitted to be strangely relieved that this entire mess is over? Truth be told, I am. When Canada lost, it allowed three more Senators to return to Ottawa, mostly unscathed. These were my priorities: Stanley Cup victory for Ottawa, first. Gold medal for Canada, second. And if that makes me an unpatriotic reprobate, so be it.

Whenever an important international competition takes place, Canadian NHL fans are automatically expected to flip a switch in their cerebral cortex that no longer identifies players as Red Wings, Sharks or similar. It's refreshing and it temporarily negates the perpetual American comment that "they may be yours, but they play for us." The Olympics are one of those rare occasions when the elite can represent the nation.

And it's much more meaningful when they're successful.

It's a touchy point, but it has validity. I hold no regular allegiance to players like Joe Sakic or Shane Doan. Jarome Iginla plays in Canada, but not for my team. There were two Senators on the Canadian squad (three, if you include Jason Spezza). These are my guys. I've cheered for their team, year in and year out. And I know there's no guarantee that any Ottawa player will remain a Senator for life. But they're the ones who are attempting to bring this city a Stanley Cup. They are the players I identify and associate with the most.

With nearly every Olympic team that has been knocked out of contention, including Canada, more Senators can come home to refocus on the goal of a Stanley Cup championship. A letdown for them, but a relief for the fans.

I legitimately feel badly for Martin St. Louis, Simon Gagne, Ryan Smyth and many of the other players who came home empty handed. Their disappointment will surely linger for some time.

But the fact of the matter remains that 99% of the time, I'm cheering against them because they play for rival NHL teams. I have a harder time identifying with non-Senators, and that's why their quest for Olympic gold meant less to me than a Stanley Cup.

A Stanley Cup for Ottawa that could be won by players from Slovakia, the Czech Republic and the U.S. But it won't matter to me -- because they'll be in Senators' uniforms.

CLASH WITH CUJO: There's a myth that a goldfish's memory lasts only a few seconds, but in the case of Senators fans, it seems to be a legitimate possibility. When asked in Wednesday's Sun who the team should chase if they need to acquire a veteran goalie, the overwhelming response was Curtis Joseph, with 41% of the vote. Has everyone forgotten the mercurial history between CuJo and Dominik Hasek in Detroit? If John Muckler decided to bring someone in, they would have to strike a fine balance with Hasek, for as long as Dom was a Senator. CuJo would bring horrific repercussions for the team's chemistry -- not exactly the environment you're looking for heading into the playoffs.

SHOP TALK: Who's more annoying: Figure skater Johnny Weir, or the Washington Post's Libby Copeland, who chose to write about Weir's shopping adventures?

TRY AND TRY AGAIN: Bob Cole felt the need to remind the CBC audience that Team Canada was "trying ever so hard" during their lacklustre game against Finland last Sunday. When did Cole morph into a child actress from the 1930's? He sounded like Shirley Temple.

OFF HIS ROCKER: Cheers to SportsbyBrooks.com for unearthing John Rocker's profile on match.com. Rocker describes himself as "mature," with a penchant for bowling and erotica (respectively, not combined ... I hope). He's so cosmopolitan. All this time I assumed he was just a racist who could run fast.

erinnicks@yahoo.ca


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