Sucks to Suck

usa

Written by: Mike Roza

USA! USA! USA! Am I right? Let’s just ignore all the human rights issues again for a moment and sit back and enjoy recapping the first World Cup of Hockey tournament since 2004 for our boys in Red, White and Blue. After all, we won the whole thing in ’96 and were semi-finalists in ’04. Our soldiers were handpicked for battle by two-time Stanley Cup winning GM Dean Lombardi of the Los Angeles Kings. Lombardi used his authority and chose one-time Stanley Cup winning head coach John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets as our general. Plover, Wisconsin’s first son Joe Pavelski of the Stanley Cup runner-up San Jose Sharks received the prestigious C on his chest to carry us into battle. Entering the tournament there was big talk in the hockey world that our boys were sure picks to be semi-finalists. How could we not be? We had our prolific scorer and Hart Trophy winner out of Buffalo, New York in Patrick Kane. We have your vintage guys the grind guys down on both ends in David Backes, Zach Parise and Ryan Kesler. Hell, we even have two guys that play right here in Tampa forty-one times a year in goaltender Ben Bishop and forward Ryan Callahan. Forget if you hate some of these guys and the sweaters they were during hockey season because now we’re all wearing the same colors baby! USA! USA! USA!

Game one against Europe. You know, the continent of Europe minus Sweden, Finland, and the Czech Republic. How hard could this one be? You have a bunch of dudes from different European nations that  have to communicate with one another through the common language of English. Huge favorites against a bunch of old rogues not even playing for one national identity. Alright, alright, alright, we outscored them something like nine to one in exhibitions. We got this! Three nil Europe. Wait, what? Were we sleeping? How could we get skunked by a team that experts predicted to be the second worst team in the whole tourney? Oh boy. Canada’s next. You know, we’ve beat them before. Yeah! Even though it’s in Toronto, in their home county in which this beautiful sport was created, we can knock off the favorites! Say it with me now: USA! USA! USA! McDonagh: BANG BANG! One nil! USA! USA! USA! Goal Duchene, goal Perry, goal Duchene, goal Bergeron. Oshie on the river, but by then the Air Canada Center was already celebrating by pounding some Molson and Labatt. Four to two Canada. So we’re eliminated now? I see. We can still play for our pride against the Czech’s. After all, it has been some years since Dominik Hasek and Jaromir Jagr led this former juggernaut to strike gold in Nagano. And yeah, the experts said that these guys are the worst team in the tournament. Alright, let’s do it for Uncle Sam. And for our ‘Freedom.’ And the majestic bald eagle. USA! USA! USA! Four to three Czech Republic. Wow. Our boys skated off the ice to a chorus of boos.

How could this be? Lombardi hand crafted this team to match up against the Canadians. We were handed the two worst teams in the tournament on a platter and we shit the bed. Tortellini told me our boys were ready to stand up for our anthem and play some hard-nosed hockey. Were we sleeping? I will admit that as a fan of the sport of hockey, and sizing up our roster versus every other team in this competition, I felt that we were missing some extra finesse on the offensive end. Brett Hull, one of our most important national treasures in the sport of hockey, mocked us. So did Stanley Cup winner Phil Kessel. Phil had a point. He did lead us in goals in the 2014 Olympics. Brett however said he could still play better in his fifties than some the guys we put on the ice. In referencing our efforts against Canada specifically, Hull compared us to showing up to play checkers while the Canadians were busy playing chess. Ouch. To the credit of Lombardi and Torts, they shouldered the blame with the media and accepted the responsibility in full for our failure. Torts, who is known in these parts as the guy that once brought the Bolts to the Promised Land, is also well known to the hockey world as being an outspoken dick. He didn’t take too kindly to Kessel, nor to Hull and other former American legends Mike Modano and Jeremy Roenick talking about the putrid results of Team USA. All in all this was a black eye in American sports coming fresh out of the summer Olympic games where we cleaned house per usual. Turns out these experts were wrong all along. Three games. Three losses. Team USA was the worst team in the World Cup of Hockey. Sucks to suck.

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