TURIN -- In the aftermath of their 2-0 loss to the Russians and the unceremonious end of their quest to defend their gold medal, Team Canada players have been keeping a low profile in the athletes village while waiting for Monday's return flight to Toronto.
"You feel emptiness," goalie Martin Brodeur, nursing an emotional hangover, said as he prepared to leave the village to join his family at their accommodations in the city centre.
"If I could, I'd go home and rest before going back to the (New Jersey) Devils. But I'm going to stay with my wife, with my children and with my father, Denis," he said. "I'm going to take advantage of the opportunity to visit the region, instead of fighting for the gold medal."
Brodeur knows the joy of taking the gold, as he did backstopping the 2002 team in Salt Lake City. This time he is leaving empty-handed, feeling only disappointment and bitterness.
"Talent is not enough to win," Brodeur said. "It's necessary to know how to form a real team, and we didn't manage that this year."
Asked for his thoughts on missing ingredients, Brodeur insisted he, "loved the composition of our team. It seems to me that we had a good mixture of veterans and newcomers."
Brodeur was one veteran who came through, stealing a victory for Canada over the Czechs and keeping them in every game.
"Our game lacked cohesion," he said. "The Russians were superior to us on that count."
In spite of the disappointing results, Brodeur says he hopes Wayne Gretzky will be back to direct the team at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, adding that a man of his stature is needed at the helm.
"It's certain that the media and the public will criticize (Gretzky's) choices now," he said. "That's inevitable when a team doesn't meet expectations. I think that there will be changes in the philosophy of the national team."
Brodeur hopes there is still a chance the World Cup of Hockey can resume in 2008, adding it would help Team Canada prepare for the Vancouver Games.