Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Olympics

I came into this year's games ready to do what I normally do: root for the Czechs, then root for whatever other Slavs are around once they're eliminated, then pack it in.

It's been a long time since I've rooted for a U.S. team. This isn't quite as dumbo knee-jerk contrarian as it may first seem; I'm not overly patriotic, and U.S. teams since NHL players joined the Olympic fray have had a disproportionate amount of jerks. Mathieu Schneider? Phil Housley? Brian Leetch, still my choice for most overrated player ever? Gary Suter? Jeremy Roenick, pre-post-career rebranding? Keith Tkachuk? CHRIS CHELIOS?? Toss in a Red Wing goalie or two and this is basically my late-1990s least favorite players list.

But somewhere along the way they shed the creeps and now, holy crap, I feel ok rooting for them again. It's a fast spunky team, which I like, and there's a bunch of guys (Drury, Miller, Backes, Kesler, Erik Johnson, Stastny, Orpik) that I like or would like on my team. Yeah, there's a few exceptions -- Kane might be a grade-A shit and Rafalski plays for the Khmer Rouge -- but I can overlook that in the name of winning, particularly when Rafalski's scoring two goals. (Just forget how to do that when you get back to Detroit, Bri!)

It's kind of a fun feeling, waving my flag weakly and chanting "U-S-A!" Who knew? Now: please don't screw up.

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