Representing Team Canada at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics goes far beyond lacing up the skates for the country that popularized the game. Actually, it goes far beyond the realms of the game. Playing for Canada is not only an honour and a privilege that extends far beyond the reach of playing professional hockey or winning the Stanley Cup. It is a chance to bring Canada’s impactful history to the forefront in its 150th year. It is a chance to instill a national pride to the millions of Canadians watching from east to west; from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Prince George, British Columbia.
Mark it down, Canada’s Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey team will prove that fully and completely!
Team Canada With No NHL Players Represents True Canadiana At Its Finest
The team that Canada is icing this year showcases the story of Canada’s beginnings. A country that offered an opportunity to anyone and everyone who was willing to take it. A chance to grow, live and learn. Free of the politics that tied them down in their homelands, free to be their own person, and free to pursue what makes them happy. Free to be Canadian.
What Is The Real Story, Eh?
In Canada’s storied history, maybe at first, it was not all that pretty. Confederation did not make everything better, but as time went on, Canada slowly started to become more diverse and plentiful. Surely still being the “technical sidekick” to the British Empire was not all that ideal. But to dispute the Lords and the Queen, Canadians still had their individuality. Something that made taking the Oath of Allegiance all the more worthwhile.
Then bring in the year of 1917. World War I was in full swing and like always Canada had to take the side of their British Hier. Up until that point, metaphorically speaking, Canada was not a nation. They were a land bind together by documentation, but not by spirit or by pride. Then comes The Battle of Vimy Ridge where a nation of determined blue collared individuals was born. Canada finally developed its sense of identity – blue collared to the core. Their “blue collared” persona would quickly merge itself with the country’s known hockey identity.
Hockey and Canada: A Match That Even eHarmony Cannot Beat
Asides from lacrosse, hockey has always been Canada’s go-to sport. Canada has produced some of the best players to ever play the game. “The Magnificent One” Mario Lemieux, “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky, “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe, “The Rocket” Maurice Richard, Bobby Orr, Mark Messier, Steve Yzerman, Patrick Roy. The list goes on. Most importantly, hockey has helped develop a sense of community amongst Canadians. As much as soccer unites Italians, hockey unites Canadians. Baby boomers will never forget where they were on that eventful day in 1972 where they all squeezed the stick and pulled the trigger.
Passed down from generation to generation, hockey unites Canadians to the point every little kid watching Hockey Night in Canada wants to be the next hero. The next person to score the Stanley Cup-winning goal. That person to score The Golden Goal. The next person to represent their country on the biggest stage.
Back to 2018
Every little Canadian kids’ dream is now the reality of the 25 men named to Canada’s Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey team. They may not be NHL players. Fan favourites may be of absence, but Canada still has a team! And it is a good one with a lot more than usual to prove.
Most of the players on Canada’s roster are NHL rejects forced to play elsewhere. They have a chip on their shoulders. No doubt about it! These players were told by their former clubs that they did not have what it takes anymore. They have been forced to either call it quits or play in a league that they do not truly have the passion for, but here, in 2018, they are given the opportunity to redeem themselves. To play for something that is much bigger than an NHL team. Arguably, something that is much bigger than them. They get the chance to play for the nation that fostered them. They get the chance to retell The Story of Us, but instead of the silver-screen, it will be played out on the ice. That truly is the honour amongst honours.
National brothers like Mason Raymond, Derek Roy, Rene Bourque, Chris Kelly and company get an opportunity to show why they were once fan favourites. Why they wanted their NHL teams to keep them at one point in their careers. Coached by Willie Desjardins, this team has a lot of experience. Not to mention, a new name to make for themselves. Canada’s non-NHL Olympic team is built to win the “Canadian Way”. Not the European way. Not the North American way! It was built to win the Canadian Way! Team Canada is built big, strong, smart and agile! Just the way Grapes likes them! As Grapes would say, “Let’s go!” “Forecheck, backcheck, pay cheque!”
“Good Ol’ Canadian Boys”
Believe it or not, the team that Hockey Canada is putting on the ice for the 2018 Winter Olympics is built to win! The odds may look like they are stacked against the boys wearing red, but from the start of Canada’s history, they always have been stacked against them. Vimy Ridge, national sovereignty, health care, the Charter of Rights, the Summit Series. Name it and history will show the lopsided battle. But what always ends up happening in the end? Canada ends up on top.
Armed with wit and determination and grace, too. Canada looks to make history repeat itself. Once again showing why Canada is the land of opportunity and the voice of international reason. The land of politeness and the “sorries” and the land of the friendly too.
Canadians should grab their cup of Tims, blast The Hip, and be saying their “Pitter Patter. Let’s get at ‘ers” because come Feb. 10, Wayne and Darry will not be the only ones saying “Over and out.”
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