When you are on your train, bus or plane this morning... take a look at the knuckles of the guy or gal next to you. Are they a bit white and worn out? If so, they might have been watching the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver Hockey Finals. They might have watched the gold medal barn-burner game between the USA and Canada Sunday afternoon.
Finally the NBC brass got something right when they made the decision to have the final game be on their flagship station for Olympic coverage. Viewers were treated to one hell of a game as the US tied it at the end of the third period and ran into overtime. US fans' hearts sank when Sidney Crosby made a snap-shot that many thought that the tournament MVP, Ryan Miller, would stop just like the tougher shots that he faced earlier.
But Miller didn't stop it. His head went down in dejection, along with the millions of US fans who watched their gold medal hopes die in that very instant.
It is said that it is far better to win Bronze that Silver. At least you get the Bronze medal for winning. For winners of the Silver medal in hockey, it is a tough thing to swallow. They are the losers of the final game. This could be seen on the faces of those gritty, big-hearted kids who really took our hearts by storm.
One could see the grim consternation and pain on their faces as they got the silver medal placed around their necks.
Most US fans had no medal expectations this year. The past few showings have been severe disappointments to US hockey fans, who have secretly dreamed of some sort of showing like we just saw this winter.
Brian Burke, Team USA's general manager, chose a line-up of kids and some vets, making most people think that they wouldn't mature until 2014--this year, it was believed that USA would just be getting their feet wet.
Instead, the US only loss was Sunday in that overtime by Crosby, as they steamrolled through team after team, including the Canadian team a week ago when the game was relegated to MSNBC and many missed what was almost legendary.
It was an unbelievable run that should have fans beaming for US hockey. It should also shut up the ridiculous hand-wringing by NHL league commissioner Gary Bettman, who seems in denial that the sport of hockey was helped by the inclusion of their players in these Olympics.
Tell that to those Team USA boys and men who gave their all. Tell that to the millions of US fans who screamed as Zach Parise scored the tying goal in the closing minute of the 3rd period.
Tell that to the millions of Canadian fans who finally exhaled, wiped off their sweat and cheered madly as Crosby sealed their gold medal on home ice... showing proof positive that they are the heart and soul of the game of hockey still.
Can he now try to pull the plug on Team USA in 2014 after this showing? After the Olympic final game was watched in houses that usually could not care less about the sport?
No, Mr. Bettman, you cannot. So stop complaining and make it work. The NHL and the Olympics are tied together for the next decade, whether they like it or not. The sport needs a shot in the arm, and this past winter might have been the first inoculation step forward.
Tomorrow, the NHL begins again, and if you think Sunday was the only white-knuckler, then you haven't watched a seventh-game playoff overtime. The NHL might not be on everyone's sports radar, but yesterday should have been a fair reminder to the greatness and beauty of this sport. How some skating men, sticks, and a puck can be one of the greatest things to watch for 60 minutes (or more).
Canada might be the champs, but sport of hockey won something too.
So if that person next to you has knuckles that seem a bit pink and healthy, you might want to clue them in on what they missed.
See more about the Olympics and the upcoming NHL trade deadline by BD on his Hockey Independent website.