COHEN’S CONDEMNATIONS: The 2014 Winter Olympics
Greetings hockey fans!
For those that don’t know me, Hi I’m Jesse. I’m the resident contrarian here at Team TRH and it’s my job to voice opinions that are unpopular, counter intuitive or generally inappropriate. This is going to be a new semi-regularly occurring segment where I tell you what’s the worst and why. Starting with the dumbest thing that all of you love: The Winter Olympics.
THE 5 WORST THINGS ABOUT
THE 2014 WINTER OLYMPIC HOCKEY TOURNAMENT
5. The North American Media
NHL.com asked 23 “experts” to predict who would win Olympic Medals in Sochi. Of those 23 exactly ZERO predicted Finland would win a Medal. Yahoo!’s Puck Daddy 8 member panel also failed to predict a Finnish medal.
Now I know what you’re saying … if NOBODY thought the Finns would compete how can I possibly find it objectionable? Shouldn’t this just have been one of those pleasantly surprising Olympic Human Interest stories?
Well for those who maybe missed the last 16 years of international hockey competition here’s a quick recap….
Finland has 3 Olympic Bronze medals, an Olympic Silver medal, a World Cup Silver Medal and just a mess of IIHF World Championship medals over the years. When tournaments are played on the larger IIHF ice surface the Finns show up and compete. In fact in the “NHL Era” of international competition the Finns have more Medals than any other nation. They may not dominate, they may not have “superstar names” (if you don’t think Teemu Selanne is among the single greatest hockey players of all time you’re an idiot) but they play like a team and they collect awards.
The flip side of this story is the mob of people picking Russia and The United States to medal.
15 of the NHL’s 23 and 7 of Yahoo!’s 8 had Russia winning a medal.
10 of the NHL’s 23 and 5 of Yahoo!’s 8 had the USA winning a medal.
I won’t even start dissecting the collective hand wringing over Team Canada’s line changes and lack of scoring.
4. Alexander Ovechkin
Sure it’s an easy pick but come on. The hockey world is still convinced that Ovechkin is a hockey god on par with the legends you see in black and white hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup. I get that he’s racked up a bunch of awards handed out by journalists that only watch half the teams in the NHL (if that) and these same journalists have him playing two positions on post-season all-star teams but I still subscribe to the “Michael Jordan>LeBron James Theory” as postulated by Jason Segal in Bad Teacher :
Seriously, world. Call me when Ovechkin does anything more than score a fancy looking goal while falling down. If you’re a regular listener of the All The Kings Men podcast feel free to skip to number three because here we go again….
Ovechkin is praised for being THE preeminent goal scorer in the NHL but rarely mentioned is the fact that he’s taken a full 100 shots on goal more than all but two of his competitors. His shifts are routinely the longest in the NHL, his shooting percentage is good but not among the highest by any stretch of the imagination and he routinely plays for teams that fail to live up to the expectations placed on them, primarily because of his presence.
Is all of that his fault? Maybe. Maybe not. But he’s the one with his face on vending machines and he’s the one making $9 Million a year.
3. Bobby Ryan
Talk about disappearing acts.
No player, outside of Ovechkin, had more talk surrounding them leading up to these Olympics and no player, outside of Ovechkin, produced less than Bobby Ryan at the Olympics. The United States played 6 games at the Olympics and I don’t think I noticed Ryan on the ice even once. Zach Parise got a lot of flack for “not showing up” in his 18 minutes a game but at least he scored a goal. Bobby Ryan didn’t get so much as a secondary assist. He was invisible. He was a non-factor. He was a complete no-show. And Team USA should be embarrassed by that.
2. Team USA
OK full disclosure… I root for Team Canada when it comes to International hockey. Always have. Always will. So there’s a certain perverse pleasure I get out of Team USA failing. I couldn’t stand Chris Chelios, Keith Tkachuk or Brett Hull when I was growing up and it’s carried over to the likes of David Backes, Ryan Suter, Zach Parise and Patrick Kane.
Jonathan Quick has changed all that. After spending 4 seasons defending Quick against the Bernier supporters and Kings haters of the world I found that I couldn’t stop rooting for him to succeed. So I found myself rooting for Team USA in a way I never had before. I even selected him to my Fantasy Hockey Roster. A fantasy hockey roster that would go on to be ranked 2nd out of a pool of over 1,600 entries I might add. The Royal Half playfully(?) accused me of being a front runner but the truth is I was rooting for the backstop.
Much was made of the offensive prowess of Team USA heading into their semifinal matchup against Team Canada … but let’s take a look at those games shall we?
They scored 7 goals against a hugely disappointing Slovakian team. They lost 3-2 against Russia but were bailed out by a coincidence of international rules and then had to rely on a truly historic shootout performance to secure the “win”. They scored 5 goals against a Slovenian team with one NHL player and a goalie currently playing in the AHL. The Austrian Hockey League. Then they scored 5 more goals while defeating an equally disappointing Czech squad. They were then shutout by Canada (the best defensive team in the tournament) and Finland in their last two games.
To sum up… in 4 games against subpar, if not laughable, competition, the States dominated. Against one semi-competent opponent they needed a shootout and reversed goal to win a close game. Against the class of the tournament they were outmatched.
Jonathan Quick meanwhile showed up and did his job. In the 4 games he played preceding the Bronze Medal game he allowed only 6 goals and held Canada to only one in a game where his team was out shot 37-31. Team USA didn’t let down the fans or the nation… they let down their goalie.
1. The Fans
That’s right. You people are the worst.
You overrated your teams, you overrated your players, you overreacted to results from a 6 (or fewer) game tournament and you completely lost all perspective.
There were probably 5 or 6 teams in this tournament that could have won a Gold Medal. That means that no matter what 2 or 3 teams would be left asking themselves “what happened?” This time it was America and Russia. Four years ago it was Sweden. You don’t really think this Silver Medal winning Swedish team was that much better than the 2010 Swedish team that finished 5th do you?
Twitter was just a nightmare of horrible fans.
— Dreamvillain (@ShutUpNGrind) February 20, 2014
#FuckCanada became a thing. Then the Canadian backlash #FuckAmerica became a thing. There’s nothing like an international celebration of athletic competition to bring out the ugly jingoistic side of people not involved in any kind of athletic competition or international relations in any way.
Then there was the matter of goalies. I think it’s fair to say that no decision regarding goaltenders was made in this (or any scenario) without being second guessed to within an inch of infinity. There are still people engaging in debates about Miller vs. Quick and the games are over.
@expomick why didn't Bylsma give Miller or Jimmy Howard a chance to play in the Olympics? why didnt he pull QUick?! what a schmuck!
— Pavel Pribylovsky (@PavelNJ) February 25, 2014
Even in a game where the US failed to score a single goal and by all accounts were completely outplayed… there are still people insisting that Miller would have produced a different outcome than Quick.
— The Mayor John Hoven (@mayorNHL) February 24, 2014
Congratulations hockey fans. You’re officially the worst part of the best hockey in the world!