Hanson likes what he sees

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:57 PM ET

On a small television in a trainer’s room at Copps Coliseum on Sunday afternoon, Christian Hanson watched as his countrymen lost to Canada in the Olympic gold medal game.

But while most saw Sidney Crosby score the biggest goal in Canadian history, after that of Paul Henderson in 1972, to put away the Americans, Hanson saw a U.S. club that demonstrated the Americans have a lot of hope for the future.

The rookie Leafs forward was loaned to the Marlies for their game that day against the Hamilton Bulldogs before re-joining the Leafs on Monday.

“Going in, a lot of people did not even think they were going to medal,” Hanson, a native of Glens Falls, N.Y., said. “So to have those guys go all the way to overtime against the gold medal favourite was pretty spectacular.

“Hockey is continuing to grow in the U.S. The performance they had, on the biggest stage in the world, means something.”

Playing in Anaheim for the majority of his career before he was traded to Toronto in January, netminder Jean-Sebastien Giguere did not face Crosby much. But Giguere, like anyone who knows hockey, was not surprised it was Crosby who scored.

“It’s kind of like a Cinderella story,” Giguere said. “I guess that is why he is probably the best player in the world. It’s something we will always remember. Whether you are a Canadian or a U.S. fan, I think you should have been pretty proud of your team.”

The three Leafs employees involved with the U.S. team — general manager Brian Burke, coach Ron Wilson and forward Phil Kessel — were scheduled to arrive in Toronto on Monday evening.

Though Wilson gave defenceman Luke Schenn some verbal jabs when the U.S. beat Canada in the gold medal game at the world junior in Saskatoon this winter, Schenn said he had no interest in giving it back to his coach.

“He rubbed it in and it was my brother (Brayden, a Los Angeles Kings prospect) who lost that one,” Schenn said. “It was good to see (Canada) pulled off this one in overtime, and we are back on top.”

Hockey players generally are sports fans, and most of the Leafs got caught up in the excitement the Olympics generated.

“All the gold medals they won ... it’s unbelievable,” Schenn said. “Makes you proud to be a Canadian for sure. Every person came together during the Olympics and cheered on all of the athletes. To top it off with hockey, there was no better way to end it.”

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca


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