The problem with being a Canadian hockey fan

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

By Nathan White

It can be hard cheering for Canada in international hockey competition.

First of all, many Canadian hockey fans have a “gold-medal-or-else” attitude when it comes to the Olympics. Anything less than perfection leaves us wringing our hands that we might have to wait four more years to prove our superiority in what some obviously believe is the only thing we can be superior at. The fan that can say, “Meh, we lost to the U.S. in the preliminaries, we’ll see what happens,” is a minority, if not an endangered species.

The second problem is, we’re all general managers. It’s like every Canadian believes he or she is born with an innate ability to analyze hockey and evaluate players. I have been lucky enough to meet some of the most outspoken of these. Amazingly, rather than in NHL front offices, they are often found screaming behind youth hockey benches, sharing wisdom with their son’s friends after too many beers, or flagging down junior play-by-play announcers during intermissions to give them tips on their way to the bathroom.

But we all have a little bit of that wannabe GM in us. So when the team loses, we’re not 100 per cent behind it, because we’re second-guessing, thinking about the players WE would have chosen. What was that idiot Steve Yzerman thinking?

Immediately after Sunday night’s 5-3 loss to the Americans, friends were calling for everyone from Mike Green to Mike Fisher to Mike Santorelli (from the We Need More Unknown Grinders camp).

Do you think they do this in Switzerland, or even the U.S., where the actual selection of the team is much more clear because the pool of available players just isn’t as deep?

It’s a cliché that “Canada could send two teams” whenever there’s an international tournament like this. That might be a bit of a stretch, but you could at least argue the bottom half of the team is interchangeable with guys who weren’t asked to travel to Vancouver.

So, panicking, and wanting to change something, inevitably we turn to the goalie, as though it’s Martin Brodeur’s fault Canada lost the preliminary game to the U.S. Will switching to Roberto Luongo and throwing Brodeur, who snapped a 50-year medal drought in 2002, to the wolves make a difference? It might, but either way Canadian fans need to love the team they’ve got, cheer it on, and stop fretting that it didn’t steamroll its way through the opening round. May I point out that the 2010 edition won more preliminary games (2) than the 2002 team (1) that went on to win gold?

Love the One You're With


~ by Nathan White on February 22, 2010.

2 Responses to “The problem with being a Canadian hockey fan”

  1. […] that doesn’t stop that 35-million-general-manager instinct I talked about in my last post, that sense of innate hockey knowledge that leaves us questioning Canada’s personnel and who was […]

  2. nathan, i can’t find an email addy for you so i’ll write you here. i’ve just sent the following off to the hockey news. please consider this simply to be an fyi. otherwise, keep up the great work. sincerely, david ward

    I think Nathan White does a great job. But it would mean a lot to me to just once see my work in THN, and I’d love to pay a short tribute to an old friend (see below). So, please consider publishing the following 99 words in your HARDCORE HOCKEY section, under the CJHL subheading. And if I did have the good fortune of getting my work published, please pay any associated compensation to Mr. White. Thank-you.

    David Ward

    Transcontinental Media Columnist (The Coaster) and Hockey News Subscriber


    “No, I’m not surprised I’m still employed in hockey,” Jim Fuyarchuk said from his current coaching position with the Manitoba League’s Waywayseecapo Wolverines. “Since I was a kid in Two Hills, Alberta, I always planned to make the game my career. That’s why I studied coaching and sports management at university. But would I have predicted when I started coaching pro twenty-five years ago that I’d work for twelve teams in four countries, including Australia, England, and South Africa? No, probably not. But then no one in this business should be surprised with where their career path takes them.”

    * Copy attached

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