When it comes to international competitions, there are really only three team sports anyone cares about. Basketball, hockey, and soccer. Maybe one day the World Baseball Classic will catch on, but we’ll all be either in the ground, in the wind, or not aware of our surroundings when that happens. And as a Yank, it can get dispiriting to see how the overlords of the sport in hockey and soccer run things. And it wasn’t so long ago that USA Basketball had to have an awakening, when gold medals at the Olympics and World Championships suddenly were not automatic. You wonder if such a thing would have to happen in the other sports, when the US has never been on top.
There was no better illustration of that than last year’s World Cup. While it’s not a tournament that matches the Olympics in esteem yet, that doesn’t mean USA Hockey wasn’t taking it seriously. And they picked just about the worst roster possible, exemplified by their choice of the biggest idiot they could find in John Tortorella to coach the thing.
Torts sent his Yank charges out to hit and block shots and be irascible, everything they shouldn’t have been doing. Hence, they got mauled by teams that were just worried about playing with the puck and scoring. It’s an archaic view of the game that the American powers that be can never let go of, and have seen them completely ruin the momentum created by the 2010 Olympic team that just missed.
Torts couldn’t do this without the Mouth Of Torts, and that’s Dubinsky. Dubes hasn’t been anything more than at least a checking center in three years or more, but gets a higher role due to the fart noise qualities that Torts still values both with Team USA and Columbus. And it’s only going to get worse. Dubes is 30 now, and put up his second worst points-per-game mark last year since his rookie year. He also had his first below team-level possession year, and you can’t see how that gets better as he gets older and slower. And then Sid will light his ass up in the playoffs yet again, same as it ever was.
That’s ok though, he’s only signed for three more years. But why should the our ethos of hockey be any smarter than anything else we do in this country?