The first time I was on Up The Pucks (remember that podcast?), the guys presented me with a question, had I ever come face to face with sexism as a hockey or punk fan. And I could confidently say that, no. Nine times out of ten, people are pretty whatever about me being a fan, and those few exceptions, amend their opinions of me fairly quickly. Or I just stop listening to them.
And it really comes as no surprise to anyone that I took the day off to watch Team USA play Team Canada in the semi-finals of the Olympics. It’s two pure NHL teams facing on international ice to battle it out. No local guys, no college players, no hometown heroes for Sochi to root for, out on that ice for 60 minutes playing for their country. And this is where the issues of my fandom occurs. Never once did people care what I am packing in my pants but rather what I’m packing in my suitcase. I’ve found being an American fan of a Canadian sport has caused me more grief than anything.
Yesterday’s game, today’s game, and every other game in which the USA faceoff against Canada are the single most important game to me. I feel like they validate my fandom, that I have every right to stand next to a proper Canuck and cheer for/write about/wax poetic on/criticize the game. Sure, there are plenty of Canadians that don’t think twice about me being an American, and many have scratched their head over my choice of the Calgary Flames, but there’s enough that scoff at the idea I could be on their level. And I know I’m not the only one. Myself, my friends, my fellow bloggers consume every piece of hockey news out there, study stats, watch every level available to us, and learn it’s history. The hockey culture in New Jersey isn’t anything like it is in Canada, I will give you that, but there are enclaves of the die hards that could make you think you wandered North of the border.
Doesn’t matter if it’s Julie Chu or Ryan Kesler suiting up, I want them to win. I want them to show Canada that this is America’s sport just as much as it is theirs. Beating the Russians was nice, beating the Russians was dramatic, but this isn’t the Cold War any more. These aren’t a bunch of college kids. And well lets face it, when you mention “Russia” and “hockey” in the same sentence, how long does it take before “lazy” is tossed in too? The Russian Rivalry is good fun, but the Canadian one is where it counts. Because as we’ve discussed before, winning is nice but it means nothing if you can’t do it in the big game. And beating the Russians was nice, but it means nothing in the battle for equality in Canada’s eyes.
So here we are, four years removed from the last time Team USA faced off against Team Canada. And here we are, as fans, once again watching Canada be the better team and possibly go for the gold. The only thing to soothe our wounds is “At least it wasn’t Crosby”. And here we are, yet again, playing second fiddle to Canada in hockey. How long until the competition is considered even? Will it take a return to the Hockey World Cup? Or will USA never catch up to their cold weather brethren?
Congratulations Team Canada, your ladies rocked it and I'm pretty sure your gentlemen will too.