Team USA – Kane and very Able

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Who could be more anxious for Olympic Gold than the 2010 silver medalists?

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Team USA wants to de-throne Canada pretty bad, and they just might. They have a sassy, young team with some great goalies and a solid offence but here are a few extra tidbits so you can make up your own mind.

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Let’s start with Patrick Kane. I mentioned him in my team Canada post because he will will playing against his Blackhawk team mate and BFF Jonathon Toews, but his interest does not just lie in his cross-border friendship. Kane has a fairly awful/amazing tendency to make an ‘air heart’ after each goal and then sort of punch through it. He should probably trademark it soon. It’s all very Brett Hart – both his trademark and his mullet.

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Kane is originally from Buffalo and still has a descent fan base there. In fact, when he went back to Boston for the first time as a professional hockey player to play against the Bruins, they still cheered for him.

Less so when he was arrested for punching a taxi driver in 2009 after there was an argument about change. Apparently the taxi was $14.80 and Kane paid $15 so obviously assault was necessary. In his defence, we don’t really know what went on…other than he definitely punched a taxi driver…But he does love hockey. During the 2013 lock out, he was not content sitting and waiting for contracts to be negotiated. He went and played for the a Swiss Club EHC Biel.

Moving right along, we’ve got Phil Kessel who plays for Toronto in the regular season. He comes from a big hockey family with a cousin and brother in the NHL and best of all, his sister is on the Team USA woman’s team so they get to be siblings in Sochi.

USA Hockey 2014 Olympic Portraits

Kessel gets some major heart points for overcoming testicular cancer. He was only 19 and a rookie with the Bruins when he was diagnosed and underwent a successful removal surgery. I should also note that this is his official Team USA picture. They must have been in a hurry. Anyway, he has done a great job at the Olympics this year, scoring a hat trick in their game against Slovenia – but don’t get too excited! In a 2012 Sports Illustrated NHL Player Poll he was voted the ‘Easiest Player to Intimidate in the League.” He’s just very sensitive I suppose.

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T.J. Oshie is not so easily intimidated. You probably recognize his name because earlier this week in an intense sudden death shoot out against Russia he was sent repeatedly onto the ice. He made four of the SIX shots he was sent out to make and won the game in the overtime. This is his first Olympics and he came with two team mates from St. Louis. Unfortunately his fiance couldn’t make it because she’s 32 weeks pregnant with their first child. It’s all very exciting, I’m  excited for them and look, here they are dressed up as Roger and Jessica Rabbit.

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I highly suggest you google them some more and check out some of their other halloween costumes. They get major points for being so festive.

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James Van Riemsdyk also plays for Toronto and also has a pretty bad team picture. While he’s a very good hockey player that we are sure to see and hear about over the next week, I could only find two interesting things about him. 1. He’s a movie star – James made a cameo in ‘This is 40.’ And he nailed it. 2. His family and friends were incredibly relieved when he was traded to the Maple Leafs. Previously he had played for the Philadelphia Flyers and as his parents were die hard Islanders fans, this was apparently not a comfortable situation which the league had put them in. They’re probably okay with him playing for his country though. I’ll have to check.

63_1ryan_millerLastly I want to talk about Ryan Miller, previously named ‘Leaf Killer Ryan Miller.’ When he first started playing hockey he played forward and only tried goalie because he was frustrated with his team mate in the net. He also comes from a big hockey family with a brother and three cousins in the NHL. He has been the only saving grace of the Buffalo Sabres this year, who are quickly taking the title for worst team in hockey. He was a huge part of team USA’s success at the last Olympics, In fact he won MVP for the whole tournament.

As a team they are young, fast and offensively very strong AND they just happen to be playing Team Canada on Friday at 12!

Watch long enough and you may see this

http://i.minus.com/ibtbd2LL939l6D.gif

By the way this is Phil Kessel’s babe of a sister.

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Team Canada’s Highlights + Delights

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I don’t know about you but I have been very excited about Olympic Hockey – Men and Women’s. And as much as I love the the fast, frenzied tournament style that the Olympics offer us, they don’t give us much research time for the final games. So I am starting early and will be giving you a few team profiles throughout the week starting with the reigning gold medal champions – The incredibly well dressed Team Canada.

Let’s get Sidney Crosby out of the way. Sidney is the hero of the last Olympics when he scored the game winning goal against team USA in the tournament final. He’s played for the Penguins since 2005 and when he was drafted, he was so highly sought after that the draft was nicknamed the ‘Sidney Crosby Sweepstakes’. When he first started playing in the NHL Mario Lemieux took him under his wing, teaching Sidney how to handle the press, the hype, the endorsements etc…Sidney even lived in his guest house for the first few years of his pro career.

Now, You can peruse his Wikipedia page for a list of his many achievements – and he has quite a few but it’s up to me to tell you some of his more interesting traits. For instance did you know that eats a peanut butter and jam sandwich before every game? Or that he has a ‘lucky cup’ that he was worn for years?

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He has the order of Nova Scotia largely for the plethora of charity work he has done in the area. In 2010 he donated his entire Olympic winnings to charities in Nova Scotia and has also a winner of “The Dapper Dan Sportsmanship Award.” I can’t say for sure what the award is celebrating but he is indeed dapper and a little bit of a heart throb. I find his lips very large but that hasn’t stopped him from dating a beautiful model named Kathy Leutner.

The man in the net is a familiar face as well. Roberto Luongo is playing in his 3rd Olympics but plays for his hometown, the Vancouver Canucks in the regular season. Before Vancouver he played for Florida and met his wife while he was eating at a favourite restaurant of the team – Pizza Time Trattoria. Gina Cerbone was the owners daughter and together they have a fairly adorable and perfectly Italian family with two daughters.

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Vancouver fans have mixed feelings about Luongo. He is easily the best goalie that the team has had and he has done a lot of great work with the Vancouver community, including buying a box where underprivileged kids can come and watch the game. He also gives away his goalie stick to a fan at the end of games where he is named MVP but last year when he was pulled from a game, his fans cheered. This will most likely be his last Olympics.

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Jonathan Toews (oddly pronounced Taves) is playing in his second Olympics and plays for Chicago alongside team mate and good friend Patrick Kane who will be playing for team USA. The two were drafted in the same year and are a huge part of Chicago’s success. They are very much looking forward to playing against one another for a change and it should be fun to watch them. Toews also played with American T.J. Oshie while they were juniors. The two were caught in a North Dakota Tavern drinking under age and had to do a fair amount of community service together, so this should be a nice little reunion for them. 

Also from Chicago is Patrick Sharp who was named Chicago’s sexiest athlete in 2009 so we’re absolutely covered in the looks department. Thank god.

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But my personal favourite player is Martin St. Louis who plays for Tampa Bay Lightening. The GM of Tampa is Steve Yzerman and he also happens to be the GM of team Canada, which means that he is in large part responsible for putting together the team. This year Martin St. Louis was not picked. He was snubbed by his own team’s general manager in favour of his team mate Steve Stamos but when Stamos had trouble coming back from an injury, St. Louis got his ticket to Russia.

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This scenario is typical to St. Louis’s career. He turned away NHL interest in his junior year at school wanting to graduate, but when he was finished college, the interest was gone and he went un-drafted. He was picked up and let go numerous times before finding his way to Tampa. Martin is one of the most unappreciated players in the NHL possibly because of his height. He measures at 5’8 and is often dwarfed on the ice but he has proven to be a truly sturdy player, playing in over 1000 NHL games and has great scoring records. Best of all he is a three time winner of the Lady Bying Memorial Award for…wait for it – The most gentlemanly player in the NHL.

He hasn’t received much ice time in the last few games but I hope they’ll bring him out soon.

Lastly I want to speak briefly about the guy who has been the star of every game Canada has played thus far. Drew Doughty plays for the LA Kings and was the youngest player on Team Canada in 2010. When asked about his tendency to come alive on the international stage, he responded “I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t score like this in LA, at all.” So in the very least, he’s certainly thought things out.

Drew Doughty

Are you excited?

Drew is!

Go Canada Go!

Here is a disgruntled Luongo after a reporter asks about his unsupportive fans

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5BRxc8NiCk

Here is Jonathan Toews telling a fairly boring , yet charming story about his BFF Patrick Kane

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCMaOKr7bPs

Here they are being best friends

Lastly we have a video by the very junior reporter for the Black hawks asking why Patrick Sharp is so beautiful

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_3IeL8lgAg