Wednesday, September 15, 2004

World's largest salt shaker awarded to Canada

I watched the final of the World Cup of Hockey last night, but found my enthusiasm lacking. The '98 & '02 Olympics, and moreso the Flames tremendous spring run, pretty much ruined it for me - I just couldn't get myself to care. However, there were still lots of smiles, raised eyebrows, and "what-the-hell-did-he-just-say?"s from my seat. A few thoughts:
  • Mario is tremendous. I really think his general privateness throughout his career has been the NHL's loss. Since his first Cup in '91 at least, there's nothing to dislike about the guy. And this is a whole other post, but I've been saying for probably 10 years that Mario Lemieux is the greatest player in NHL history. Maybe I'd feel differently if I'd seen several dozen Bobby Orr games, but Mario could simply do things on the ice that no one else can, and he frequently did it while dragging an opposing defenceman around. If you're from Edmonton, keep reading, nothing below will enrage you any further.
  • I actually found myself feeling bad for Kipper when Canada scored. Again, the Flames just ruined this tournament for me.
  • Possibly not worth repeating, but what an awful trophy. Anyone else happen to notice that when Lemieux picked it up, he seemed to be contemplating raising it over his head, but first tossed it in his hands a couple of times. (Miss Cleo Aldini mind-reads: "'s not the same.")
  • Speaking of trophies, if you had told me two years ago that Vincent Lecavalier would be the World Cup MVP, I would have been speechless, except maybe to muse that you had been huffing the same solvents as Art Williams. That thought was fleeting, though; what came next, watching Vincent skate to the centre to accept his trophy, was: "I guess it's like riding a bike." Going back to minor hockey, I'm sure he's accepted a tournament MVP award 50 times - boy did he know the drill. (OK, blank expression, posture somewhere between humble and ashamed, look at and handle the trophy like it's coated with e coli - check, check, check.)
  • Best interview -- Scott Oake: "So you've won a junior world championship, a senior world championship, an Olympic gold medal, three Stanley Cups, and now a World Cup. How would you rate your career?" Scott Niedermayer: "When you put it that way Scott, I'd say pretty goddamn successful!" (Disclaimer: not Niedermayer's actual answer.)
  • Most overused word by Team Canada in post-game interviews: special. There was no contender for runner-up.
  • No brickbats for Bob Cole from me. Although I'm still reeling a bit from the previous game, when the director went in for a close-up of Mario, and Bob says, "What a gorgeous smile." I can't even think of a joke for this.
So now we regrettably move onto the joint owner-player plan to destroy the NHL. I don't think I have much to say right now beyond what I posted here and here, except for maybe that I don't think a common concern for the league by the two parties is any cause for optimism.

Recall the soon-to-be-frequently-repeated cliche of the two kids fighting over a toy, each pulling on one end. It starts to rip, and both are saying "You're ripping it!" "No you're ripping it!"

I repeat this not to get the cliche-ball rolling, but to note that when the toy finally rips, there is a brief moment of stunned silence, and then the argument intensifies. No, I'm not overly optimistic.


At 8:53 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh, Mario is great and all, but you have to be on another planet to rank him ahead of Gretzky.

The CBC did a retirement special on the Great One where they compared his impact and accomplishments in hockey not just to other hockey players, but also to stars from other pro sports leagues. What Gretzky did to hockey, no other sports superstar did in any other league. In the mountains of medals and awards that Gretzky won throughout his amateur and pro career, its easy to sometimes miss the forest for the trees and downplay the magnitude of what he did and the talent he brought to the game.

But there can really be no question. Gretzky is far and away the best to ever play hockey.

At 10:24 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, oh. Now you've done it.

No question Gretzky's impact on the game was greater. He gives great interviews, he captured the fans imagination better, and he sold the game in the US better; but, on the ice I'm with Jerry.

Lemieux had a better point per game average than Gretzky, with worse teammates, and without the benefit of the "you can't hit him" philosophy, or the "if you touch him it's a penalty" officiating. The number of goals Mario scored with one hand on his stick and one hand holding off multiple defenders tells it all.

Having said that, I'm going with Bobby Orr, just because most people over 50 all name him.

Besides, it is a moot point. I'm just happy I was able to watch both of them play at the same time; they were both spooky good.

What is going to be interesting is watching Vinnie. Canada seems to have a history of superstars coming into their own at International Tournaments and then dominating the league. Iggy after the Olympics. Mario after the 1987 Canada Cup. Even Gretzky says that it was his first World Cup that he realized he could really play this game.

- Jass

At 4:30 a.m., Anonymous Victor Levy said...

#1 Bobby Orr for the simple reason that he could have played forward but neither Lemieux nor Gretzky could have played D.
#2 Lemieux for the above mentioned reason.
#3 Gretzky.

of course... it's just my opinion ;)


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