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Canada wins the World Vase – er Cup

My god is that trophy ugly.

When the World Cup started, everybody on this side of the pond was salivating over the possibility of a Canada – USA matchup for the Gold Medal game. Who forgot to tell the Finns the plan?

While many Canadians were disapointed that we didnt get to knock off the Yanks a second time in this tournament, I, for one, was very happy with the matchup. And not just because that meant that five Calgary Flame players were on the rosters.

I was elated by this matchup because it was a battle of nations who live, breathe and die hockey. While 2 million people watched poker on ESPN in the states, a paltry 350,000 watched the Finland-USA semifinal on ESPN2. Compare that to over 700,000 watching in the middle of the night in Finland – a nation of about 5 million people.

In the United States, this gold medal game would have been just another hockey game nobody cares much about. In Finland, it was the biggest game in that nation’s history.

How can you be disapointed with that kind of reaction?

Riding the stellar goaltending of Miikka Kiprusoff, and the same committment to defense that wins Stanley Cups, the Finns got through a relatively mediocre European pool, and past the rapidly aging Americans, only to fall in the final to the Canadians 3-2. It was exciting, high flying hockey, and the perfect lead into the NHL season.

Whoops… forget I said that.

Vinny Lecavalier was named tournament MVP, and while not a bad choice, I do not believe he was the best choice. I suspect Lecavalier won mainly as a result of his overtime goal in the semifinal against the Czechs. While an argument can definitely be made that Lecavalier was the top forward in the tournament, IMO, Martin Brodeur was far and away the Canadian – and Tournament – most valuable player. Though Brodeur should be getting used to being passed over, as he lost the Conn Smythe to JS Giguere two years ago, even though he was the better goaltender.

And while this tournament will be labelled a success by all, one cannot overlook that Helsinki, St. Paul and Toronto all struggled, and failed, to sell out games – victims of overpriced tickets for a tournament lacking in prestige after an eight year hiatus. Even in the land where kids learn to skate before they learn to walk, Canadians werent enthralled by this tournament like they were in 1996 or in the Salt Lake Olympics. the NHL and IIHF have a lot of work to do before the next World Cup – which will hopefully be held before 2012.

However, much of this may have to do with NHL arenas going dark tomorrow at midnight, as it is hard to get up for such a tournament on the eve of doomsday.

Regardless, Congratulations to team Canada, champions of the world once again.

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