As Scott Walker's silver medal hit the floor, so did his jaw.
Moments after stepping back onto Canadian soil yesterday, the Team Canada forward was attempting to display his medal for the assembled throng of media and fans when he accidentally dropped it, resulting in a resounding clang that echoed through the bowels of Pearson International Airport.
Was this a sign of Team Canada's discouragement at not capturing gold at the world hockey championship? Were Walker's teammates also bouncing their silver medals around like they were basketballs? Does silver mean that little to a group of players who entered the 15-day tournament accepting nothing less than winning it all?
By no means was Walker showing any disrespect to Canada's second-place showing at the worlds. The medal merely slipped out of his hands, just like the championship did Sunday when Canada lost the gold-medal game to the Czech Republic, 3-0.
"I'm proud of (the silver)," the native of Cambridge said yesterday after returning from Europe. "I'll probably hang it up on a wall somewhere.
"At the same time, we were disappointed at getting to the gold-medal game and not be able to win it. No one's happy with it. I guess the best way to put it is that it is nice to be in a country where second best is not good enough.
"We were aware of the criticism we were under entering the medal round, but we knew we would be there. Unfortunately, while goals were not a problem for us throughout the tournament, we just couldn't get it done offensively in the final game."
Walker was asked if conditioning was a factor in the end. While a significant chunk of the Canadian roster had not played competitive hockey in months, most members of the championship Czech squad were active in various leagues throughout Europe.
"It's no excuse, but 14 of our guys only played beer league or senior hockey (this season)," the Nashville Predators winger said. "We didn't post a bad result if you consider that."
Moments after Walker had scooped up his medal and departed, Ottawa Senators forward Mike Fischer, accompanied by his parents Jim and Karen, arrived at Pearson.
Despite being used sparingly at times throughout the tournament, Fisher said the two-week competition was an unforgettable experience.
"To me, it's exciting to get a silver," he said. "It's very hard to win (three world championships) in a row."
Team Canada's white jerseys, which the team wore in its semi-final against Russia and in two other games, are for sale on eBay Canada until Monday. Proceeds from the jersey sales will go toward the funding of the preparation of Canada's hockey teams for the 2006 Winter Olympics ... An average of 1.4 million viewers watched TSN's broadcast of the gold-medal game, making it the most watched world hockey championship game ever on TSN. An average of 317,000 viewers saw the game on RDS, TSN's French affiliate.