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Only Medal

I was eleven the first and only time I held an Olympic medal. It happened at the small church I attended on Wednesday nights. I forget her name, but she had a gold medal for swimming, I think. Earlier at a Big Boy’s restaurant, her little nephew had splattered hot fudge sundae all over the neck band. She’d tried to get it out, but I remember seeing the sticky  little stains, picking up dirt and germs from people who will always remember the weight of it in their hands, the fingerprints on it.

Slip like Freudian

Silver medal slalom skier, Julia Mancuso, tried to downplay her previous comments in the drama between her and Lindsey Vonn. In an interview today, she tried to assess blame on the media for blowing this drama up, and asserted that her “comments had been taken out of contest—context.”


On Monday, an anonymous writer for the Toronto Star blasted coach Mike Babcock of Canada’s hockey team for mishandling the “naming of a no. 1 goalie,” portraying Mike Babcock as a gaping asshole—and he can seem like one, for sure—but also assuming that he isn’t a damn good coach in the process. And for that, I take great offense.

S(he) writes: “Maybe you can never make these kind of momentous changes and keep everyone happy.”

Granted, Captain Obvious.

“But Babcock didn’t really try. So now he’s got to ride Luongo to the end of these Olympics.”

Then s(he) follows with this quote,

“That’s the plan,” said Babcock. “You need momentum changing saves, and we’re looking for (Luongo) to do that.”

—as if somehow Babcock would ever lock himself into a decision that he has all the authority in the world to change. My guess is Babcock was saying, “That’s the plan”—and that plan extended to the next big game, and not the rest of the tournament.

S(he) writes “Anytime Babcock has had success—1997 world juniors, 2002 (sic) Stanley Cup final with Anaheim, 2008 and ’09 Cup finals with Detroit—he has identified a starting goalie and rode him hard.”

Aside from reading vaguely homoerotic, this statement says nothing about coaching strategy, but draws a dubious conclusion from not-entirely factual information.

Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, and Marc-Andre Fleury are all starting goalies. And if Brodeur doesn’t hack it one game, why wouldn’t Babcock put in Luongo? He starts nearly every game in the NHL and plays outstanding. His competitive spirit aches whenever he sits on the bench—and he does all of that in front of Vancouver—the home of the fucking Olympics, in case you missed that memo. So how would that sit with the city of Vancouver if Babcock stuck with Brodeur the whole time? Naming a starting goalie ahead of time might give journalists something to talk about, maybe some emotional security (I guess?) but Babcock clearly doesn’t care. He wants to win.

I know nothing of Mike Babcock’s goalie naming in the ’97 W.J.s and ’03 cup finals; but I do know that in 2008, when the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup, he named Dominik Hasek, and not Chris Osgood, to start in the playoffs. Dom won two games, then dropped two, so Babcock put in Osgood and he played amazingly and the Wings won the Stanley Cup, which is far better than just making it to the finals or winning the world juniors. Clearly, your sieve-like memory betrays you, anonymous writer; for Babcock has had his greatest success when goaltending was an uncertainty.

But put yourself in Mike Babcock’s position. Why name a starting goalie if that’s just going relax the other and put the third to sleep? They should all be ready to play, because they do it on a daily basis. If he keeps with Brodeur—who, believe it or not is a mortal man—and if Brodeur plays subpar again, then you canucks’ll shit all over them anyway.

Which must be like second-nature to some Canadians, because s(he) persists in this malarky that Roberto Luongo hasn’t had a career marked by winning,

“Now’s his chance. The last time Luongo had a chance to step forward an assert himself as Canada’s top netminder he coughed up the bit in the deciding game of last year’s playoffs for the Canucks and surrendered seven goals to the Chicago Blackhawks.”

Sure. You may bring up one game when he let in seven goals, but I can think of a couple games in which Patrick Roy let in seven and eleven goals, respectively. They were both against Detroit. But was Patrick Roy an inferior goalie for it? By no means! Likewise for Roberto Luongo.

So this is why I say that you, anonymous writer for the Toronto Star, are an emotional jackass and a bad journalist.

You are also one of many Canadians whose emotions have darkened under the monolith of this sport, awash in this asinine, gold-or-bust anxiety. And I know. It’s “your game.” But if you don’t win this Olympics, Canada will still produce the most NHL players, the most talent, and it will still be “your game,” and one day, you’ll win gold again if you don’t do it this year.

So go ahead and scapegoat Mike Babcock for supposedly scapegoating Marty Brodeur—who, by the way, is taking Babcock’s decision far better (like a fucking professional) than many Canadians right now—for losing a prelim hockey game. But don’t forget what Americans haven’t forgotten:

Final game, 2002 in Salt Lake City.

What y’all just witnessed Sunday was a bunch of talented Americans shoving that game up your collective ass.

Oh but cheer up, Canadians! There’s a good chance you’ll return the favor. Really, hockey is a super fun sport when you don’t give two tugs of a dead dog’s cock who wins. Personally, I like the Swedes. They’ve got great puck support and small egos. Now dat is arhd! But you can still win gold Canada. Just unpucker dem dere asscheeks a bit and have some fun.

Oh wait, you’ve got the Russians next. Good luck.