Let me tell you a story.
I was living in Toronto between 2001 and 2003, 2002 being the year that Toronto came thisclose to playing in the Stanley Cup final. After the Eastern Conference semis, Toronto was the only Canadian team was left and it was a big deal. Toronto began their Eastern Conference finals run on May 16th with a win over Carolina but it went mostly downhill after that and Game 5 was do or die for the Leafs. The game was on a Saturday, the best day for an important game to be held, in my opinion. My roommate and I went to our regular bar (Havana Blues) to watch the game. Havana Blues is in Yorkville, at the corner of two of Toronto’s biggest streets–Bloor and Yonge. Yorkville is also adjacent to University of Toronto’s main campus. It’s a pretty busy area. Toronto needed to win this game to force a Game 6 and they did–a Darcy Tucker power play goal late in the first period was the only goal (surprising, as Toronto spent close to 10 minutes in the penalty box in the second period alone) and as the third period wound down, we held our collective breaths. Then we exhaled, ran out into the streets, and celebrated. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like if the game was held in Toronto instead of Raleigh. Hockey is a part of life in Canada, so much so that it begins to seem normal to an outsider after a while. So to run out into the middle of the street to cheer and high-five all those people who I’d never met before was very cool and very telling about how Canada views their sport. This wasn’t The Big Game, but we celebrated as if it was, because when it comes to playoff hockey, living to play another day is almost as big of a deal.
This is what I thought about after Canada lost to the US in the Olympic prelims on Sunday. The Americans outplayed them at their own sport and that hurt Canada’s pride–badly. But cheer up, America’s Fancy Hat, you still lived to play another day.