Our kids did good, not great


It might be a new year but it's the same old Monday morning musings and meditations on the world of sports.


It might be a new year but it's the same old Monday morning musings and meditations on the world of sports.

- Maybe it was TSN wrapping itself in the Maple Leaf again or maybe it was privileged teenagers mewling about all the adversity they had to overcome but, somewhere along the line, our national obsessive-compulsive disorder with hockey has become a little annoying.

Canada won its fourth straight gold medal at the world junior championship this weekend, and that's not an insignificant achievement. But, please, a little perspective. Hockey Canada is a massive operation that throws considerable amounts of money and resources at this event.

How many other teams in that tournament, for example, had their own travelling chef?

This year's team also featured a game built around goaltending and defence, which might be effective but is getting increasingly difficult to watch. John Tavares, their most talented forward, didn't see a regular five-on-five shift until late in the tournament because of his supposed defensive liabilities. Who cares if the kid can't check? He can fill the net.

Finally, despite their many advantages, the Canadians celebrated their win over Sweden in the gold-medal game like they were the Spartans playing the Persians.

"This year there were so many critics and so many things we had go through as a team to overcome," said Brad Marchand.

Sorry, what critics and what obstacles? Did the chef over-cook the steaks before the semifinal game against the U.S.?

Look, we're aware hockey is what we do and the team should be congratulated for its effort. But, both the style of game and our sense of entitlement are getting a little old.

It was good for Hockey Canada and TSN that our juniors won.

It might have been better for the game if they had lost.

- Early entry for quote of the year. Columbus's Jody Shelley on the Americans' 4-0 record in the WJC round-robin. "Who have they played, Mexico?"

- It is inconceivable that any objective observer could assess Markus Naslund's play this season as anything less than a colossal failure. We'll spare you the details -- OK, here's one, over the last 17 games he has one more goal than Aaron Miller, 2-1 -- but the real point is this:

The Canucks are one frontline offensive player away from being legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. That player should be Naslund and this team isn't going anywhere in the postseason if he's producing like a fourth-liner.

- Funny moment from Matt Hasselbeck when he walked up to the microphones following the Seahawks' win over the Redskins on Saturday. "I want to just say right now that we want the ball and we're going to score," said the Hawks quarterback. "I said it. I mean it. Thank you."

Hasselbeck, of course, was referring to the playoff game in Green Bay four years ago when he blurted out the same words after the Seahawks won the coin toss heading into overtime. He then threw an interception, which the Packers' Al Harris returned for the game-winning touchdown.

Hasselbeck, of course, returns to Green Bay this weekend for the NFC semifinal.

"I don't regret it one bit," he said of his declaration. "I regret the interception, though."

- Still with the Seahawks. It's hard to picture them winning two more playoff games with Shaun Alexander running more like a Shauna but it's not like they have to get past Indianapolis and New England in the NFC, either.

Here's something else to chew on. What if there are two upsets in the NFC next weekend and the Seahawks face the Giants at Qwest Field in the conference title game?

- Some leftovers from the Ice Bowl in Buffalo on New Year's Day. The Paris of western New York was almost bereft of snow in the days before the game, leading NBC to truck in their own white stuff to create the Winter Wonderland effect. It wasn't exactly needed when the real stuff started falling 20 minutes before the faceoff.

It's also estimated the game produced $1 million in revenues between merchandise sales and concessions.

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