Sports

Gold mantra needs to go

Canada claiming gold in Ufa, Russia was supposed to be our major hockey fix since the NHL can’t sort out their millions and we haven’t seen a game that mattered since June.

I stayed up to watch Team Canada face the Americans in the semifinals the other morning, but had no plans of losing sleep over a bronze-medal tilt against Russia.

Didn’t even bother to PVR the game, mostly because I can’t figure out how the PVR thingy works, and partly because I didn’t care.

Sad state of affairs considering Canada-Russia, with nothing on the line, is usually worth viewing. It’s still world-class hockey.

One look around cyber circles and it appears the media and others are asking that Canadian fans lose the “Gold or nothing” mantra for good.

Writes Cam Cole of the National Post: “ (Coach Steve) Spott’s squad looked tight, and listless, and his biggest stars couldn’t make passes, or take them, or finish, or defend against an up-tempo American side that did every single thing better, including tend the goal. In a single game, stuff happens, even to Canadian boys.

“On the whole, it might be easier on the psyche from now on to hope for the best, rather than expect it. It’s not Our Game any more, and only a romantic would tell you it is.”

Hockey Canada is somewhat to blame since they instill a ‘Gold or nothing’ attitude once the players show up at training camp in Calgary.

Writes Terry Koshan of QMI Agency: “It puts a lot of pressure on kids who can’t realistically win gold every winter. For Canada, it’s now four tournaments in a row without gold. Other countries are pretty good at this hockey thing too, something that Canadians have to accept.”

Oh, and nearly one in four NHLers is an American these days. Just check the WHL rosters if you want to track some of the best Americans on their way to the show.

The hockey in Russia was very good. One mistake here or there and one great team beat another great team. It’s usually that close when Canada, Russia, the U.S. and Sweden get together.

Our Canadian athletes are considered golden even when they win a bronze medal at the Winter or Summer Olympics. We should stop asking for perfection from teenage hockey players once a year for a two-week tournament and treat them like any other athlete where the difference between win or lose is so miniscule.

Former Nanaimo Clippers’ and USIU Gulls’ net detective Mark MacDonald, now managing editor of the Nanaimo Daily News, is questioning the Canadian goaltending.

MacDonald wrote on Facebook: “Canadian goaltending has been a weakness for years. They all play like (Roberto) Luongo: Cover the net down low and shot block, with little to no upper body movement. It’s like they’re taught if they have to move their arms they’re out of position, so they don’t. Watch the American, Finnish, Swedish and even the Russian goalies. Big fundamental differences now.”

Martin healed for Penticton spiel

Team North America will have a healthy Kevin Martin for the World Financial Group Continental Cup which starts Wednesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton.

Martin has reportedly made a “reasonable” recovery from his hernia surgery at Vancouver on Dec. 11.

The 46-year-old Edmonton superstar curler missed only the Canadian Open at Kelowna in mid-December. Third John Morris stepped up to skip and brought in former teammate Joe Frans at third for the second men’s Grand Slam, but the team lost its last three round-robin games after a 2-0 start.

After the international Continental Cup competition, which is styled after golf’s Ryder Cup with singles, doubles, team and skins games, Martin has the Dominion all-star skins game at Casino Rama on Jan. 19-20 in Ontario, then the National Grand Slam in Port  Hawkesbury, N.S., from Jan. 23-27, and the Alberta men’s championship, Feb. 6-10 in Leduc (a home game for Martin).

K-Mart earned a Canadian Team Ranking System berth to pre-qualify for provincials. Vernon’s Jim Cotter is scheduled to play the Slam in Hawkesbury.

Seahawks’ Wilson easy to like

Gotta love the way Russell Wilson is handling himself as a rookie quarterback with the Seattle Seahawks, 3.5 favourites over the Redskins today at 1:30 our time from Washington, D.C.

The 24-year-old says he wants to play 12 to 15 years in the NFL. If he stays in Seattle and their dynamic defence sticks together, they should keep making the playoffs for a long time.

He appears to be all about class in TV interviews. Shouldn’t be surprising since the 2010 Colorado Rockies’ draft pick basically failed in a two-year minor baseball career and has already re-paid a portion of his $250,000 signing bonus. Doubt if anybody has ever done that.

For the record, Wilson struck out a ton and played some second base and outfield with the Class A Tri-City Dust Devils in Pasco, Wash.

Anyways, the Seahawks should cover. They win by six.

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