Canada's poor showing at games a colossal failure
As a Canadian law student spending a semester on exchange in Hong Kong, I must say it was both a pleasure and a surprise to read an article (Pub owners feel the heat as Maple Leaf die-hards mope', February 26, 2006) about the Canadian men's hockey team, who I have followed closely despite being a world away from the action.
Perhaps I am mistaken, but you seemed surprisingly unmoved by and apathetic to the team's failure to win a medal in Turin. While I do not believe the team's poor performance should precipitate the hand-wringing and 'sky-is-falling' reaction that engulfed Canada after the Nagano Games in 1998, I also don't think this most recent loss should be met with the indifference you exhibited.
The 2006 edition of the men's hockey team was composed of some of the greatest players in the world today. They were the most talented team in the tournament, yet ended up losing more games than they won. Your attitude of indifference failed to convey the magnitude of the team's colossal failure at the Olympic Games.
I also disagree with your assertion that this performance constitutes 'a mortal blow to the fragile Canadian psyche'. The disillusionment felt by many Canadians is not another example of the (in)famous Canadian inferiority complex, the one that leads Canadians to feel they need to prove themselves to the outside world in order to feel better about their existence. The point isn't that Canadians needed the world to know that 'hockey is Canada and Canada is hockey'.
Rather, Canadians cared about winning; about defending a gold medal; about watching a group of supremely talented players unite the country in the same way they did four years ago in Salt Lake City. Canadians have every right to be upset at the outcome of this tournament. But make no mistake: Canadians are disappointed at the team's inability to meet the country's lofty expectations, not fearful that the world now doubts the skill level of Canadian hockey players.
Finally, your article seems to justify the poor performances of both the Canadian and American teams by claiming that '[w]inning in Europe has never been easy for North American teams.'
It is unclear what, if any, factual basis you have for this assertion. Obviously, this claim could not possibly apply to the women's teams - the Canadian women dominated in Turin and captured the gold medal, while the Americans won the bronze medal.
As for the men, you will recall that Canada won the 2003 and 2004 World Championships on European soil (in Finland and the Czech Republic respectively).