2010 Vancouver Olympic Hockey: Canada wins gold, the US silver, Finland bronze

Marie-Philip Poulin, 18 years old (the drinking age in British Columbia is 19), with a can of Molson Canadian beer and gold medal in hand. Poulin scored both goals in Canada's 2-0 win over the United States. Hello world - welcome to Canada! [Picture tweeted by Greg Wyshynski, 25 February 2010.]

The United States lost the gold medal  game to Canada 2-0.

Canada deserved this win. The US came out flat and just weren’t able to put the puck in the net. The Canadian goaltender was a wall, though, which didn’t help matters any. Still, the US squandered two 5-on-3 power play chances to at least help them tie up the game.

In the third period, the lone referee pretty much put their whistle in their pocket and let them go. While there was no obvious checking going on, there was a lot of physical play. It was almost indistinguishable from a men’s game at that point.

The final women's ice hockey standings for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics: Canada wins gold, US silver, and Finland beat Sweden for the bronze.

While there is no doubt that Canada deserved to win the gold medal during this game, let’s talk about the team’s conduct. There has been a lot of discussion about how the Canadian women conducted themselves after the game. And it wasn't very pretty. To the point that they may be punished for it by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Say what you want about Team Canada’s women’s hockey team, but the one thing they definitely lacked is respect.

All you have to do is look at how they started the tournament and how they ended it. Neither were good. And neither were respectful.

They started the Olympics beating Slovakia 18-0. There was no reason for running up the score like that. And there was no reason to celebrate each and every goal like it was the first. That was a completely disrespectful to the game of hockey as well as to their opponents.

There is zero legitimate justification for doing something like that. I heard three arguments made for running up the score, and they all came from Canadians. And I completely disagree with all of them.

The first argument was that goal differential is used to break ties, which is true. Okay, I get that. If the US and Canada were tied in the standings, whoever scored the most goals gets seeded first. So while that does justify a high score, it does not justify 18 goals worth.

The second argument was that letting up created bad habits. I’m sorry? Holding back and working on passing or trying to work on setting up plays instead of shooting and scoring creates bad habits? Since when? It’s much easier to play sloppy when you can score at will than it is when you’re trying to hold back.

The last argument was that no one should feel bad for Slovakia since they got into the tournament by beating Bulgaria 82-0. (Yes, that’s 82-0; the ultimate in running up the score in a hockey game.) So basically, the argument goes, what goes around comes around. Uh huh. Better watch your backs then, Canadians, if that’s true. That still doesn’t justify the lack of respect due to your opponent – no matter who they may be.

How the Canadians’ women’s hockey team finished the tournament was also very disrespectful. Not just to their opponents and to the Olympics, but mostly to their own country. After the game was over, they’d received their medals, the other teams had packed up, and the crowd (but not the media) had gone home, the Canadian women’s hockey team loitered on the ice drinking alcohol and smoking cigars – as the international media watched and took pictures.

You know, I don’t care what you do in private. Strip naked and run screaming down the street with only your gold medal on, it doesn’t matter to me. But to still be in uniform with your country’s national crest on the front and to still be in an Olympic venue on the actual field of competition while drinking is just wrong. Not just wrong, but completely disrespectful to the nation that you’re representing.

Yeah, they won the Olympic gold medal on their home ice in their home country. But that doesn’t justify publicly acting like a jerk. People might find it funny and harmless, but these ladies (and I use the term loosely) are representing ALL OF CANADA. Do Canadians really want to be known as cigar smoking, beer swilling poor winners? Because we Americans are known for that in some quarters, and it makes quite a few of us uncomfortable – and we’re used to the world hating us.

This isn’t just about how these women represent their country to their country. This is an image that the rest of the world will now carry with them. Canadian women act like crass, ill-mannered, spoiled college frat boys after winning games. That's what the world saw. Gone is the image of the overly polite Canadian.

Well, there you go. Now you have something to be proud of other than hockey, Canada. Congratulations. You are officially one step closer to being better at something than Americans.

You know, I'm not even going to touch the underage drinking in public part of it.

Obviously, this kind of behavior starts with the coach and works its way down. The fact that the Canadian women’s team coach allowed this sort of thing to go on is just incredible. Not many American coaches would.

If the Canadian women had taken their celebration into the dressing room, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. Then they’d be doing what championship men’s teams have been doing all along – which was expected, frankly. But staying on the ice and staying in their national team uniforms while acting that way in front of the media made this completely disrespectful to the entire nation.

Guess they'd never heard the phrase "the name on the front of your jersey is more important than the name on the back"?

If the American women had acted that way, I would be just as appalled and disgusted. It’s not the fact that they’re Canadians that I’m ranting about this, but simply the lack of respect. It’s not a gender thing, or a national thing, or even a sport thing; it’s a human thing. Everyone deserves simple and basic respect – at least, until they prove they're not worthy of it.

...And people wonder at the lack of respect in the NHL....

Again, this is not sour grapes because the American women lost the game. They deserved to get the silver. The Canadian women were the better team and they earned that gold medal. However, winning an Olympic gold medal doesn’t make a person a good human being.

The United State men’s hockey team hopefully watched that game and took it to heart. The American women could’ve won it, but they didn’t. Don’t let the same thing happen to you, boys.

The US men play Finland at 3 pm Eastern today in the quarterfinals, while the Canadian men play Slovakia at 7:30 pm Eastern.

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