I thought maybe waiting all day to finish this would take some of the edge off and let me put things in perspective. I was wrong:
Well, fuck me.
Look, this is hard, because I don’t want to be that guy calling out a team for a bad loss after a heartbreak like the one dealt to the players of Team USA by their North American brethren less than a full day before the shitshow we saw this morning, especially because I’ve never played in the NHL and easier said than done and if you can’t stand behind our boys feel free to stand in front of them, but the Americans simply should have played better, especially because their opponent was essentially in the exact same situation.
Every four years, the NHL suspends play for a couple weeks in February to allow players to participate in the Winter Olympics. There has been much debate over whether to continue this practice or bar players from traveling to the Olympics, but 2014, at least, will continue to feature NHL talent.
In fact, all 12 participating countries – Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Latvia, Norway, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States – have at least one NHLer on their roster. Some, like the US and Canada, are entirely comprised of NHL players; Sweden’s roster has only one player that isn’t currently playing in the NHL, while teams like Russia, the Czech Republic, and Finland have a fairly even balance of NHL players and those from European leagues like the KHL, Liiga, Elitserien, and Extraliga. Some of the lesser-known squads like Austria, Latvia, and Slovenia simply don’t have enough NHL players to fill a roster and, by necessity, are filled with players from their own professional leagues.
The last time the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, all the way back in 2010, they lost half their roster to trades and free agency that summer. The following season, they barely made the playoffs as an 8 seed and lost in the first round. After their most recent championship, the Blackhawks only lost three skaters and a goaltender, all of whom have been ably replaced. Though Michael Frolik’s presence on the penalty kill is still missed (Chicago sits 26th), the defending champions are otherwise enjoying an excellent season. With a total of 82 points, the Blackhawks (34-10-14) are first in the Central Division and for a long stretch back in December led the NHL. Though the Anaheim Ducks have surpassed the Hawks in the overall standings and St. Louis is hot on their heels in the Central, Chicago has repeatedly shown resiliency when faced with adversity.