I written this piece on the Canadian fans' treatment of
the U.S. team at the World Junior Championship last week,
you would've read a diatribe so full of ill will and vitriol
you could have tasted the bile. But I sat on it, thought
about the jeers, catcalls and anti-American chants in Vancouver
and came to a realization.
Isn't that what happens when you play in an
Now, booing "The Star-Spangled Banner"
was extreme. I don't remember an incident where Americans
booed "O Canada." Of course, 90 percent of this
country couldn't name the Canadian national anthem if you
spotted them the "O". Heck, ask 10 Americans to
find Canada on a map, and six would point to Montana. Besides,
"O Canada" is a catchy tune and, unlike "The
Star-Spangled Banner", you don't need Mariah Carey's
vocal range to sing it.
(Since we're on the subject, is there a word
in our language less versatile than "spangled"?
Have you ever heard it used anywhere other than between
the words "star" and "banner"? No one
ever says, "Caitlin drank a bunch of Goldschlager and
spangled the bathroom floor" or "My windshield
got spangled when I hit Richard Simmons with the car.")
|Canada fans were all smiles after
their team won a second straight World Junior Championship.
Outside of the national anthem, what did the
Canadian fans do? Boo? Chanting things like "U.S. sucks?”
Are you kidding? Ask Tom Fritsche which he'd rather face:
15,000 people yelling "U.S sucks" in unison or
a couple thousand fans at Yost questioning the lineage of
his female relatives in not-so-subtle terms. The conditions
the U.S. team faced at the WJC weren't any more daunting
being the road team on a Saturday night in Orono or Ithaca
or Duluth. In fact, the atmosphere was tame compared to
what occurs at some college rinks.
What was mildly amusing, however, was the
logic hockey fans on this side of the world's longest undefended
border used to vilify the actions of the crowds in Vancouver.
They’re just kids, said the critics. True, but they’re
probably some of the same kids you’ve taunted with
a stream of obscenities or lobbed various species of fish
toward when they visited your place.
In the same vein, it’s downright laughable
when Michigan fans – pound for pound, Wolverine hockey
fans are the most vulgar congregation in American sports
– chastise the Canadians for the abuse directed at
defenseman Jack Johnson after he leveled forward Steve Downie
with a vicious elbow to the head (more on him later). This
would be like Courtney Love cracking on Robert Downey, Jr.
for his erratic behavior.
If you’ve got a beef with the Canadians
for the way they acted toward the U.S. at the WJC, fine.
Just don’t condemn actions in Vancouver that you condone
at your local arena.
The NCAA Executive Committee on Monday postponed
its ruling on appeals of three member institutions –
including North Dakota – seeking to retain Native
"To do it justice, we needed to give
it more time," said committee chair Walter Harrison,
who doubles as president of Hartford (the university, not
the insurance company) to USA Today.
Besides the Fighting Sioux, the other schools
appealing the NCAA's policy banning Native American nicknames
deemed "hostile and abusive" are Indiana (Pa.)
and Bradley. IUP's athletic teams are called "Indians";
Bradley's are "Braves".
Whoa. I'm no linguistics expert, but how is
the nickname "Braves" considered hostile and abusive?
Look up the definitions for "brave" – the
noun, not the adjective or verb. The first two listings:
WORLD JUNIOR JAMBALAYA
A handful of loose ends from the WJC and international
• In retrospect, Jack Johnson got off pretty
easy when IIHF officials decided not to suspend him following
his elbow to Downie's globe (he wouldn't have been punished
for the viciousness of the hit, but for the premeditated
nature of the action.) He’ll pay the price for his
actions down the road, however. At some point during his
NHL career, count on a member of that Canadian team to insist
he drop his gloves and settle the score. Hockey never forgets.
|"Maybe if we all stand close
together, no one will notice how ugly these uniforms are."
• Is Nike so powerful that no one can step in
and tell them, “Hey, we appreciate the uniforms and
all, but they’re really ugly?” Did you see the
get-ups the Swoosh provided for the U.S. at the WJC? Vertical
striping on the socks? Those goofy jerseys that fit like Spiderman’s
costume? I don’t know what Nike has in store for Torino,
but I’d advise the U.S. to leave that motocross gear
• Speaking of unfortunate fashion statements
in Vancouver, the bright blue blazer and black mock turtleneck
U.S. coach Walt Kyle sported for his team’s semifinal
match with Russia was, uhh, luminescent. I can’t find
a picture of the ensemble, but it looked
like something from the “Night at the Roxbury”
• Did you know that the three goalies the
U.S. is planning to take to Torino – John Grahame,
Robert Esche and Rick DiPietro – rank 34th, 35th and
36th in the NHL, respectively in save percentage and 23rd,
32nd and 43rd in goals against average? Can't
see where they'd have any use for Ryan Miller, who ranks
fifth in save percentage (.922) and sixth in GAA (2.33).
IT'S GOTTA GO SOMEWHERE...
If INCH was required reading at USC, Matt Leinart
could've taken this section for credit.
• Ah, the exciting life of an NHL rookie.
Former Michigan State standout Jim Slater, now in his first
year with the Atlanta Thrashers, recently discussed the
crazy days and wild nights he and roommate Michael Garnett,
a rookie goaltender, share in Hotlanta.
"He likes the computer, he likes the
TV, we watch the NHL package," Slater said. "I
cook, he eats. I pay the power bill, he turns things on."
• One pleasant by-product of
the NHL's new collective bargaining agreement is that hardly
a day goes by in the NHL without a former collegian making
his debut in the bigs. In case you're curious – OK,
I was curious, so that means you're curious by association
– here are the top 10 scorers among ex-NCAAers in
their rookie year:
|Thomas Vanek (Buffalo)
|Rene Bourque (Chicago)
|R.J. Umberger (Philadelphia)
|Keith Ballard (Phoenix)
|Ryan Whitney (Pittsburgh)
|Chris Kunitz (Anaheim)
|Grant Stevenson (San Jose)
|Zach Parise (New Jersey)
|Brandon Bochenski (Ottawa)
|Jim Slater (Atlanta)
• This note was mentioned in this week's Power
Rankings, but it bears further explanation: In four games
between the two teams this season, Lake Superior State outscored
Western Michigan by a 23-2 margin. Last season, the Lakers
scored 64 goals over its entire 28-game CCHA regular season
Then there are the Broncos, who may not be
the country's worst team but are playing like it. WMU is
0-6-1 in its last seven games and has been outscored during
that span 28-7, an amazing feat for a unit that has to its
credit a sweep of Ohio State and a win and tie against Michigan
State. No way should coach Jim Culhane be retained after
this season; if he is, it speaks volumes about the school's
commitment to hockey.
• OK, so I haven't exhausted the World Junior
Tournament notes, but this item is exhausting. Boston College
goaltender Cory Schneider stopped 45 shots in the U.S. loss
to Finland in the bronze-medal game that ended at 5:28 p.m.
EST. Approximately 49 hours, 32 minutes and 2,525 miles
later, Schneider is back in net for the Eagles and makes
43 saves in a 4-1 win over Providence, a victory that propelled
BC into sole possession of first place in the Hockey East