A perfect World

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:30 AM ET

With the crowd going bonkers around him, Pat Quinn finally had the opportunity to hoist the Cup at the Air Canada Centre. Oops.Wrong Cup.

Don't get us wrong. From Squamish to St. John's, there are plenty of Canadian hockey fans thrusting their collective chests out with pride this morning after Team Canada captured the World Cup with a 3-2 victory over Finland last night.

And they should.

From 39-year-old Mario Lemieux, who could very well have made his swan song on the international stage last night to 27-year-old Shane Doan, the unlikely hero who scored the tournament-winning goal, the 26 players who wore the red-and-white maple leaf performed with skill and class worthy of a championship team.

UGLY MUG

But long after the final hand shake had been delivered and the players had lifted the ugly mug that is the World Cup, Quinn took a moment to reflect on what lies ahead.

Forget about the Maple Leafs competing for the Stanley Cup. With labour armageddon at the doorstep, when will anyone again have the opportunity to battle for hockey's most coveted -- and best looking -- prize?

But this wasn't about Bob Goodenow or Gary Bettman or a slew of mind-numbing rhetoric.

This was about Doan, the pride of Halkirk, Alta., taking a perfect centring feed from St.Thomas native Joe Thornton and deking Miikka Kiprusoff to score the deciding goal just 34 seconds into the third period.

This was about goaltender Martin Brodeur of Montreal overcoming a left wrist sprain to backstop Canada to yet another international hockey title.

This was about Super Mario, showing the world there still was some magic left in those aging hands when he set up Joe Sakic for the game's opening goal just 52 seconds in.

And this was about Vinny Lecavalier, whose goal in overtime against the Czechs in Saturday's semi-final helped propel him to player of the tournament honours.

"It was a pretty amazing group," executive director Wayne Gretzky said. "We fought through injuries to Ed Jovanovski, Wade Redden and Marty (Brodeur) and still never trailed once in this tournament."

Canada's perfect 6-0 record in the tournament was a testament to just how special the team was.

After being the architect of Canada's gold-medal winning effort at the Salt Lake City Olympics, Gretzky opted to go with the same staff this time around. He was comfortable having Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini at his side, and his somewhat controversial decision to retain Quinn as head coach proved to be fruitful in the end.

But it was the young players like Doan, Thornton, Lecavalier, Brad Richards, Marty St.Louis and Dany Heatley who were the show, proving to skeptics that Canada is second to none when it comes to icing skilled players.

"Amazing," Doan said. "This is the most special day of my life."

Only one thing could top this moment for Quinn.

"The fans were great out there," he said. "But I have plans to hold another Cup in front of them with the Maple Leafs."

Whenever that might be.


Photos