I will never forget the time I took former Daily editor in chief – and misguided Canucks fan – Ed Ngai to a Sharks game earlier this year. Since Vancouver and San Jose are now in the same division, Ed decided that he would have no choice but to root against the Sharks.
So when the Minnesota Wild scored in the first period, what did my friend from up north do? He jumped up, screamed and proceeded to hop up and down with his hands raised high above his head while spinning in a tiny circle, taking his time to gloat to the mass of Sharks fans around him. About a goal by a random team. In my seats.
Them Canadians. What nerve, eh?
Who else would score the overtime goal to send the U.S. men’s hockey team home packing with a silver medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics? Who else would repeat the heartbreaking feat four years later, as the Canadian women’s team did with a three-goal comeback (ending in overtime, once again) in Thursday’s final? Who else – as I’ve jokingly complained here before – would come into my arena and delay my hockey with two minutes of their national anthem?
Really, I love everything about Canada. They’ve got maple syrup, universal healthcare and a damn good (if not well-mannered) EIC – not to mention the best sport known to mankind. Patrick Marleau is Canadian. Joe Thornton is Canadian. Logan Couture is Canadian. How can you go wrong?
Speaking of Marleau, my favorite professional athlete…if you’re reading this between 9 a.m. and noon on Friday and haven’t yet figured out why I’m writing about the U.S.-Canada rivalry, crumple up this paper and find the nearest TV. There’s a game on.
Our friendly rivalry with the friendliest country on earth is truly unique. There are none of the nasty political undertones of the U.S.-Russia rivalry, and it hasn’t pervaded our cultures the way it has with England and France’s historical animosity. Save for Ed’s occasional outburst of heretical Sedinenry, the only time I ever feel myself wishing poorly for Canada is during the hockey medal rounds of the Winter Olympics.
I’m actually not that upset that Friday’s U.S.-Canada game is only a semifinal. The 2010 final in Vancouver was a special moment, with the Canadians winning Olympic gold on home ice for the first time ever and the NHL’s poster boy, Sidney Crosby, sealing it in overtime. For the rivalry’s sake, maybe that moment needs a little space.
In the minutes after the heartbreak back in 2010, my dad told me to find comfort in the fact that American kids probably wouldn’t go to sleep sad that night; if the game had gone the other way, the reaction would have been considerably more morose north of the border.
But what makes Friday’s installment in the rivalry special is that it means just as much in both countries – or as close as we will ever get in hockey. The Canadians had their emotionally charged win in 2010 but were uncompetitive in 2006; the Americans missed their shot on home ice in 2002 and were uncompetitive in 1998. This, on the other hand, is a showdown between the two best hockey teams in the world at a neutral site – a hockey Super Bowl, more or less. The winner isn’t guaranteed the gold, but the bragging rights are real, and I know I’m going to watch.
Just not with Ed.
Joseph Beyda is seeking comfort in the U.S. hockey team with his Sharks currently seven points behind the NHL-leading Anaheim Ducks in the Pacific Division. Let him know why the Ducks will finish above the Sharks at jbeyda ‘at’ stanford.edu.