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Oh, Canada! Even without government healthcare, USA thumps them 5-3 in Olympic hockey

February 22, 2010 |  7:06 pm

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Canada is a really cute little country, that is 10% larger than the United States with about 10% of its population. They're usually very polite in Canada, eh? Off the ice anyway.

Canadians do spell some words funny for North Americans. But they have a comfortable standard of living up there, despite having a whopping federal sales tax and only being able to afford three downs in their version of football.

For generations Canadians have taken great pride in their prowess at moving a deadly piece of rubber -- or even a frozen wad of horse manure -- around on outdoor and indoor sheets of ice with a stick. They call the game hockey and have been frustrated that the world does not fall down in awe at Canada's decades-long dominance.

Especially frustrating to the fragile Canadian psyche has been the widespread indifference toward the wonderfully rapid, violent, finessed, non-stop game by most Americans, who'd rather watch overweight football players pat each other's butts and spend 40 seconds planning the next play.

But now Canadians may be regretting what they wished for. Earlier this winter in the World Junior Championships of hockey so closely followed by Canadians and completely missed by all Americans except the players' families, the red-white-and-blue Team USA of mostly 20-year-olds defeated the Canadian wannabes, among other on-ice victims.

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This occurred in a Canadian place called Saskatoon, which is a lovely city of mud streets and log cabins. Just kidding. It hasn't been that way for years.

And then in an exciting back-and-forth game at the Olympics on Sunday, the skilled, experienced Canadian team and its irrational, cocky fans already anticipating a gold medal game against Russia got blown away in a preliminary round by a younger, less-experienced but hungrier team of Americans who out-hustled the perennial, suddenly embarrassed favorites to win 5-3.

No, it wasn't the Miracle of 1980. But it was the first time the homegrown U.S. players had beaten Canada in Olympic competition in a half-century. And, as in Saskatoon, on Canadian home ice no less. Canadians are incapable of seeing the loss and the U.S. celebration as final recognition that the Canadian game really matters.

So, Canadians, including the once-wise Wayne Gretzky, were shocked and stunned and disappointed and crushed and angry and, did we mention, shocked.

Not that many Americans will notice, but now (see photo of the good sports above) the Canadians would like to change the subject away from their disastrous Olympic hockey showing in-progress over to the subject of healthcare. That would be as exciting as watching football on PBS.

Actually healthcare is what many Americans are trying to avoid by watching Edward Scissorhands and crowd dance around on skates in Vancouver instead of watching what's-his-name in the White House.

Obama couldn't be bothered going to the Olympics in next-door Canada, so he sent Joe I Used to Ride the Train Every Day Biden. And last year Obama wouldn't motorcade even a few blocks to an NHL playoff game when Washington was in them. If he can't hold yet another town yawn on healthcare, Obama much prefers basketball. Which, btw, was invented by Canadian James Naismith.

Did we mention the USA-Canada hockey score Sunday was 5-3 with the northerners on the short end.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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