Team Canada enjoys moment ... for now

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 6:57 AM ET

Ryan Smyth wore a Team Canada t-shirt, a Team Canada hat, stood astride a giant flag that covered the dressing room and took a long swig of beer -- a Canadian, of course. Of his four international titles wearing red and white, the World Cup had to rank with the Olympic gold in Salt Lake City, but last night's win was special because it was on home ice.

"Our fans were outstanding in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, even Columbus, Ohio, when we played (Team USA), we had loyal fans," Smyth said. "Each game we got better and our true test was the last two games. We stuck to it and prevailed. Tonight, was a matter of will."

Reflecting the low-scoring nature of this Cup and hockey's prevailing defence-first philosophy, Sweden's Fredrik Modin was the Cup scoring champion with eight points, a tourney-record low. No surprise that a line featuring Joe Thornton in a checking role would make the difference in Canada's 3-2 win over Finland.

"For 2 1/2 weeks, Joe had to live my life," joked career grinder Kris Draper, who played alongside Thornton. "But guys didn't care about their ice time on this team.

"Our goal was to put Canada back on top. We've won at the Olympics, two world championships and now this. It's a great statement for Canadian hockey."

But all the Canucks go their separate ways this morning, awaiting the rubber-stamping of the NHL's lock-out.

Thornton will soon be packing for Davos of the Swiss League, while Wayne Gretzky will go from Canada's exalted executive director back to managing partner of the Phoenix Coyotes -- a team that might not survive the labour stoppage.

In the strangest twist of all, Mario Lemieux reverts from team captain to chairman of another have-not club, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and will in effect be locking himself out today.

"It looks like a while before we're back on the ice again," Lemieux conceded.

Draper didn't want to dwell on the prospects of when he'll be back with the Detroit Red Wings.

"Tonight we'll celebrate the sacrifices we made all summer to become world champs," Draper said. "Probably the disappointment will hit everyone tomorrow."


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