Here's the Lowe-down

TURIN, Italy -- Insiders indicate Wayne Gretzky will wash his hands of the Canadian Olympic team for 2010, opening the door for Kevin Lowe to take over.

While a lot can happen in four years, it is believed the Edmonton GM's choice to coach the team would be Calgary coach Darryl Sutter. By then, Sutter will have stepped away from the Flames bench to concentrate on GM duties, which would make for an interesting decision on his part.

It also suggests a second choice as Canada's coach would be Red Deer Rebels owner-coach-GM Brent Sutter, who will likely accept one of the many NHL offers being thrown at him by then. Something to chew on, anyway.

PONY UP: It's time for the Canadian Olympic Committee to start offering cash rewards to athletes who climb Olympic podiums.

It won't make them try any harder but it would serve as a small reward for boosting national pride like no other sporting event in the world can.

Admit it, Canadians can walk a little taller these days thanks to the record-setting efforts of Canadian athletes who each traditionally receive a paltry $18,000 a year for undying dedication to their craft and their country.

The Italians offered $150,000 per gold here, the U.S and Swiss gave $25,000 and the Aussies offered $7,500.

Assuming the COC -- or a savvy corporate sponsor -- offered $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze, the total shelled out here in Turin would have been less than $500,000 -- a small price to pay for those who did Canada proud on the biggest international sporting stage.

AROUND THE RINGS: Word out of the Canadian hockey team's dressing room is Jarome Iginla and Todd Bertuzzi were two of the hardest hit by the loss to Russia. Iginla sat stunned in full gear for more than 20 minutes before undressing. With tears in his eyes, Bertuzzi apparently apologized to all his teammates for his interference penalty that led to the game-winner ... Is it just me or does German speed-skating hottie Anni Friesinger know exactly when the cameras are on her, cueing her to unzip the top of her body suit after a race?

CLOSING CEREMONIES: Ninety percent of all tickets here were sold, probably 75% of them were used, yet all of the Olympic merchandise was gone by the end of the first week. In other words, no souvenirs for my pals -- so stop asking ... The Olympic lowlight for Canadians: The Bell Beavers. The hockey team's loss paled in comparison to the tragic belief by someone that those two rodents were actually amusing ... Oddest sight of the Games: A doping official following curler Mark Nichols for a post-game test. What's the point? ... I'll ask it again -- who invited the oh-so-talented Yoko Ono to take part in the opening ceremony? Was Paris Hilton unavailable? ... Never thought I'd say this but the sexiest squad at the Games: The women's Swedish curlers. So popular is the dominating quartet, they are featured in a heavy metal video in Sweden ... Admit it, you and your pals have already started to piece together your Canadian lineup for 2010 ... There is no justice. After admittedly tanking their final round-robin game against Slovakia to gain a playoff matchup with the Swiss, Sweden's hockey gold sends a sad but powerful message to kids and coaches everywhere: You don't always have to try your hardest.