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Sunday, Sep 24, 2017
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Martin Fennelly Columns

Crosby's winner disappoints, but game, Olympics didn't

TAMPA - Canada has resumed breathing. Yup, the old Red, White and Blue gave our little buddy to the north quite the scare Sunday afternoon, taking him all the way into overtime before his professional hockey players beat our professional hockey players to win the gold medal and end the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Now go and get your shine box. Oh, yeah, and nice nuclear arsenal.
Sorry, we're a little prickly south of the border this morning. Sidney Crosby saved everybody's Canadian bacon when he beat damn-near-unbeatable United States goaltender Ryan Miller, ending a remarkable hockey game and, as it turned out, a remarkable Olympics. How do those five little rings turn the trick every time? How? You couldn't have had a worse start than the start to the Games of Vancouver. An Olympian died on the luge track hours before the Opening Ceremonies. But Vancouver came from behind. Canada came from behind. And the Olympics came from behind. The closest I got to Vancouver was my couch. Most of the events NBC showed were over hours before I watched. In this age of the Internet, there were no secrets. By the way, if Bob Costas isn't one of the three or four greatest broadcasters in television history, I want to see your list, and I'm still sending you off to the doping center. How do the Olympics do it? I only know they did it Sunday - with the granddaddy of all finishes, at least Canada's granddaddy. The American granddaddy was 30 years ago at Lake Placid, when the U.S. hockey team completed its miracle for hockey gold. Canada's version made an entire country shake. Crosby, Canada's most precocious hockey talent since Wayne Gretzky, scored a goal that will live for generations. It's right up there with Paul Henderson's 1972 goal that beat the Soviet Union in the Summit Series. It might seem a bit overdone down here, where many an American becomes a hockey fan only once every Olympics or so, and sometimes less often than that. But do not doubt the power of the puck up in maple leaf garden. It was mostly relief that drove Canadians to hysteria. I saw a slice of that eight years ago in Salt Lake City. Canada beat the United States for a gold medal then, too. Canadians cried themselves silly. Sunday was great sport, made even greater when American Zach Parise scored with 24.4 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. And Canada's heart stopped. The whole country would have had to move to Mexico if it lost this one. Of course, now they think they're hot stuff. The United States, medal-wise, had the greatest Winter Olympics haul ever. It's a bona fide superpower: bobsled, Nordic combined - don't mess with us. But, oh, Canada came away with a record 14 gold medals. Yeah, we'll even count the curling one. But No. 14 mattered the most. There was something about Sid the Kid celebrating that made me smile. The guy can hardly shave, and in the last eight months he has lifted a Stanley Cup and now won an Olympic gold medal. He gets accused of being soft, not as tough as the other greatest player on Earth, Alex Ovechkin. Crosby did disappear at times in this Olympics tournament, but he made his moments count. He beat Switzerland with a shootout goal. Then came Sunday. Yeah, we were happy for Sid, so happy we totally gave up the idea of wanting to lay him out with a two-hander. That is, until his Penguins play the Lightning here in two weeks. And I'll pay for the broken stick. Sorry, it's a rough Monday down here.
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