Cup victory bittersweet

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:31 AM ET

It was put to Jarome Iginla that winning the World Cup of Hockey might be comparable to going into the seventh game of the Stanley Cup final for the Calgary Flames. "Nah," Iginla said.

"Better finish this time."

True enough.

Canada wrote the right epilogue to the World Cup with its 3-2 win over Team Finland last night.

You can argue that everybody got what they needed.

Finland restored a well-earned sense of pride in their national hockey program. They lost by the most narrow margin possible to a superb Canadian side in front of a Canadian crowd in a tournament skewered to generate a North American title.

"I'm proud of the spirit and the attitude," Finnish coach Raimo Summanen said. "We made some mistakes, we can play better, but I'm proud of our players."

Last night could be the first and only hockey championship at 40 Bay Street, and the Canadians did what they were supposed to do. Might as well enjoy this win because the game dies by the day, starting this morning.

"Tomorrow, the business side of the game takes over," winning goalie Martin Brodeur said.

"I'd have to say it's bittersweet," Canadian coach Pat Quinn said. "I think we were all thinking about our future, as far as our game is concerned."

It is now open season on pegging where this Canadian team fits in the pantheon but in Salt Lake, remember, the Canadians lost their opener via a shocking 5-2 drubbing administered by Sweden.

This time, the Canadians outscored their opponents 10-3 in the preliminary round, savaged Slovakia 5-1, escaped the Czechs in overtime and outplayed and barely outscored the Finns. They did not trail in any game.

"It was fun to be dominant, to win all six games," Brodeur understated.

Playing without Rob Blake, Wade Redden and Chris Pronger, the Canadians were nonetheless sound defensively and ushered in a new level of blue-line depth with Scott Hannan, Jay Bouwmeester and Robyn Regher.

Saku Koivu, Finland's splendid little captain, wanted no truck with the idea that everyone got what they needed from the result.

"I don't think that at all. If everybody got what they wanted and Canada was supposed to win, why play the game? We got better as the tournament went on and you want to go home a winner. We weren't able to do it."

In the end, there was equal parts good and bad.

The World Cup is not the Stanley Cup, nor is it the Olympics. It is a tournament made special only by the passion Canadians, those off the ice and on, have for the game.

"Every Canadian kid dreams of playing for the Stanley Cup," Joe Sakic said. "The Olympics are a special experience. This fits somewhere behind that."

"This is the first time I've played internationally in Canada," Iginla said.

"That made it memorable."

Vincent Lecavalier, left off the original roster, was named the tournament's most valuable player and there is a striking set of circumstance here. Lecavalier was added to the team when Steve Yzerman couldn't play because of an eye injury.

Both players were babied to the brink of ruin by dotting owners and redeemed by uncompromising coaches, Scott Bowman for Yzerman and John Tortorella for Lecavalier.

"Steve Yzerman is my idol," Lecavalier said. "I wanted to be on the team, but I wanted to play with him, too."

The Canadian side won, but they had to carry the World Cup Trophy around the ice with equal parts of pride and embarrassment. The two went hand in hand last night. It'll be the same today when the doors swing shut.


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