If I needed a vivid reminder of how long I've been away from my home country, this was it.
An old school friend emailed this week to ask my thoughts on the Canadian team's chances at the Olympics. I replied that I was pretty excited about kayaker
"Beijing?," he responded, giving me the email version of a slap upside the head. "I'm talking about Vancouver!"
Of course he was.
And if I hadn't been down in Texas, I would have realized that immediately. The sad reality for world-class Canadian athletes who can neither shoot nor stop a puck is that the majority of their countrymen may have a passing interest in their exploits over the next two weeks, but the only Olympic event they care about, truly and passionately, is the 2010 hockey tournament.
So what if it's still two years off? It's already been the subject of TV shows, internet polls and countless barroom debates. With the humiliation of Torino still fresh and sharp 30 months later, Canadian fans are reeling. Vengeance on their home ice is front of mind.
And so the biggest concern this week is not the injury to hurdler
To get back in touch with my people, here's how I see it going down:
When the 13 forward slots are filled, the Canadians should offer an unmatchable blend of size, skill, physicality and two-way play. No surprise that the first line pivot will be
Pencil the silky smooth
While he's not going to dislodge another center from a job, it's hard to imagine
You can argue which line will be designated third and fourth, but Canada has always relied heavily on its checking unit.
The final four forwards all boast first-line skill, but the humility to play a lesser role if necessary.
The final spot, if he wants it, goes to the captain,
If Sakic would rather watch on TV, the 13th forward should be
There are several obvious omissions, most notably
The blueline will be in transition from the old guard to the new, but the Canadians should still boast enough experience to make it one of the top two groups in Vancouver. At least four vets of Torino --
Joining those two will be
In the mix, but likely on the outside looking in: Washington's
The third goalie slot offers nothing more than a spot in the team photo and the chance to spell Luongo during game day practices, so it should go to a promising youngster rather than a veteran like
And if all is right with the world, it'll be Team Canada GM
That's the way I see it rolling. Let the slings and arrows fly...