What an incredible week of drama, excitement, passion, athleticism, heartache and unbridled emotion we’ve seen from the Olympics.
The United States’ victory over Canada has American media outlets actually talking about hockey. Jim Rome’s show has talked more hockey this week than he did all of last year. ESPN has led their broadcasts with hockey and now NBC is promoting hockey throughout their broadcasts and they’re promoting another "miracle" theme.
With this type of exposure for hockey, I don’t see how the NHL won’t be a part of the 2014 Olympics in Russia. Sure the Americans were annoying with their chest-pumping about beating Canada on Sunday, but this is good for the sport, and if Canada has to lose a round-robin game for it to happen so be it.
I’ve heard many say that the NHL needs an American gold medal in hockey to grow the sport even more. I say hogwash. The NHL would benefit if the States was in the final, but if they lose to Canada it won’t hurt growth. In fact, I think it keeps the target on Canada and forces the Americans to push harder to try and keep up to us. While they are hesitant to admit it, America knows that Canada is the dominant country in hockey, and if they finish second it will give them extra incentive moving forward, plus it will make the rivalry even better.
Canada and the USA in the final will be great for the league, and I think it will ensure that we see NHL players in 2014. If the States beats Finland — which they should — and Canada downs Slovakia, the American media will give hockey the most coverage it has ever had — that’s great for the sport.
It’s amazing how in three days Canada has gone from worrying about not “Owning the Podium” to challenging the States and Germany for the most gold medals. All three are tied at seven gold medals with four days left. Normally the team with the most gold medals is ranked 1st, even if they don’t have the most medals, so Canada still has a shot to finish first, although Own the Podium’s goal was to have the most overall medals.
In 2002, Norway was ranked 1st with 13 gold, even though they only had 25 medals. Germany finished with 12 gold and 36 medals, while the States had ten gold and 34 medals.
With curling, hockey, men’s aerials and some more speed skating events, it’s possible that Canada could finish with the most gold medals. Our next gold will set a record for most gold medals in one Olympics. Even though Canada didn’t get off to a great start last week, they can still finish strong.
Ice women of the week
To wrap up our Olympian profile here are a few more talented and beautiful Olympians.
Kimiko Zakreski is a Canadian snowboarder. She was born in St. Albert but now lives in Calgary. Nice.
Chemmy Alcott is an alpine skier from Great Britain. I like how her boots match her outfit.
Kiira Korpi is a Finnish figure skater. She won’t win a medal, but you might want to check out her routine before Joannie Rochette’s tonight.
- With Pekka Rinne signing a two-year, $6.8 million extension with Predators, Dan Ellis is definitely on the market. I wonder who garners more attention leading up the deadline: Ellis or Marty Turco.
- Turco is a $1.13 million cap hit the remainder of the year, while Ellis is only $366,492 and that could be the difference.
- Ethan Moreau is a $366,492 cap hit, while Fernando Pisani is $523,560 and Steve Staios will cost $565,445 the remainder of this season. It seems very likely that Moreau and Pisani will be moved by next Wednesday.
- Jaroslav Halak’s play for Slovakia might be the deciding factor for Pierre Gauthier. Gauthier has to move Halak or Carey Price, and you wonder if Price is now the man to move. Either way I doubt the Canadiens will get market value in return for either Price or Halak.
- Minnesota, Calgary, Anaheim and Washington don’t play a game until March 3rd, so they don’t have any games to showcase a player prior to the deadline.
- It looks like Tampa Bay continues to be a mess. GM Brian Lawton fired assistant coach, Wes Walz without consulting head coach Rick Tocchet. Lawton’s played the game ,so I don’t get why he would think this is a good move, unless it’s a tip-off that Tocchet’s job is in danger.
- Steve Ott could be an attractive rental player. Ott is an UFA this summer and it sounds like he’ll get $3 million a year. Darryl Reaugh said on my show this week that he doesn’t think the Stars will go that high, so Ott could be had before Wednesday. He is one of the best pests in the league and is a great guy in the dressing room. The Sharks could use his abrasive style during the playoffs.
- Some are whispering that if the Flames miss the playoffs Darryl Sutter’s job could be on the line. Interesting that when I talk to guys close to the team they don’t think that’s the case. Sutter has a long leash, but if they miss the playoffs and don’t have a first or second round pick, I can’t see ownership being overly happy.
- The trade deadline is Wednesday, but don’t be surprised if some teams get a jump on things on Monday. GMs have had 14 days without any hockey to analyze their team and address their weaknesses. Boston, Edmonton, Dallas and LA are rumoured to be close to some deals, but not necessarily with each other.
- With Russia getting crushed by Canada I expect Alex Ovechkin to light it up down the stretch and win the Maurice Richard trophy by four or more goals.
- Ray Emery’s injury might force Paul Holmgren to bring in another goalie just in case. Traditionally the Flyers’ goalie has been their weakness, and if Emery isn’t healthy Holmgren can’t afford not to make a move. Dan Ellis to Philly maybe???
- If you didn’t think Shea Weber was top-end D-man before the Olympics, I’m guessing you do now. He is tough, physical, skates well and has an heavy and accurate shot.
- Rene Bourque at $3.3 million for the next six years is a good contract for him and the Flames. Problem for Brent Sutter is that after Bourque, Nik Hagman and Jarome Iginla he doesn’t have much proven offensive depth.
Leaders through the season
Here are the top ten in pts, goals, assists and other stats.
42: Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby
38: Patrick Marleau
35: Marian Gaborik and Steven Stamkos
32: Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk
30: Alexander Semin
28: Anze Kopitar, Bobby Ryan Rick Nash and Zach Parise
59: Joe Thornton
55: Henrik Sedin
50: Nicklas Backstrom (eight assists this week)
49: Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis
46: Mike Green
44: Ryan Getzlaf and Evgeni Malkin
43: Tomas Plekanec
80: H. Sedin
71: St. Louis
69: Gaborik and Marleau
67: Patrick Kane
66: Dany Heatley and B. Richards
+37: Jeff Schultz
+28: Alex Burrows and Mike Green
+27: H. Sedin
+26: Daniel Sedin
+25: Semin, Jonathon Toews
+24: Christian Ehrhoff, Mike Knuble and Zach Parise
***Shawn Horcoff leads the race for the green jacket at -29, with Patrick O’Sullivan giving him a run at -28. Robert Nilsson’s -21 gives the Oilers three of the top-five contenders for the jacket.
13: Mike Richards and Gaborik
11: Backstrom, Marleau and Kopitar
10: Malkin, Ovechkin, Ryan Kesler, Andrew Brunette, Bobby Ryan, Eric Staal and Kovalchuk
252: Cal Clutterbuck
236: Ryan Callahan
226: Dustin Brown
203: Stephane Robidas
195: Brooks Orpik
193: Steve Ott
186: Matt Greene
185: Scott Nichol
182: David Backes and Mike Fisher
259: Jeff Carter
218: Gaborik and Marleau
216: Rick Nash
215: Henrik Zetterberg
214: Phil Kessel, Radim Vrbata and Malkin
Most Canadians found a way to watch part of the Russia/Canada game last night, and the same effort should be made tonight to watch Joannie Rochette’s long program. I think an entire nation will be cheering for her and holding their breath every time she attempts a jump. If she wins a medal, that medal presentation could produce the most tears of the Olympics. And no one should be ashamed to admit they felt a lump in their throat watching her skate.