Murph’s Musings: Can USA Get Redemption Against Canada?

patrick kane team usa
Feb 16 2014 Sochi RUSSIA USA forward Patrick Kane 88 carries the puck ahead of Slovenia defenseman Klemen Pretnar 7 in a mens ice hockey preliminary round game during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Shayba Arena Kyle Terada USA TODAY Sports

Covering the NHL, the Boston Bruins and even the Boston Red Sox over the last 13 years, I’ve been lucky enough to watch teams literally fulfill their words and finish unfinished business twice in the following season. While I’m not in Sochi right now, the semifinals game and rematch in Sochi Friday between the defending gold medal champions Canada and the team they beat for Gold in Vancouver has the potential for a similar script to be written.

In 2003, the Boston Red Sox were down 3-2 in the American League Championship series and forced a Game 7 on the road at Yankees Stadium before losing the seventh and deciding game in heartbreaking fashion off an Aaron Boone walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning. A year later there were the Red Sox and Yankees battling it out in another chapter of their bitter rivalry. Once again Boston had forced a Game 7 at Yankee Stadium, this time after erasing a 3-0 series deficit and this time Boston finished what they set out to do at the beginning of the season, completing the historic comeback and advancing to the 2004 World Series where they would claim their first World Series title in 86 years breaking the curse.

In 2010, a Boston Bruins team seemingly built for a long playoff run and ready to bring the city of Boston their first Stanley Cup in 38 years had the Philadelphia Flyers on the brink with a commanding 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals. But in the blink of an eye they lost one of their top players in David Krejci to an arm injury and before they knew it they blew that 3-0 series lead in Game 7 on home ice, their Stanley Cup dreams gone in an instant.

But with the core of that 2009-10 squad back for the next season, then Bruins veteran forward Mark Recchi told me just prior to their season opening game in Prague that “we’re going to finish what we started against Philly.” Fast Forward to the spring of 2011 and there were the Bruins again in the Eastern Conference semifinals up 3-0 on the Flyers but this time, in their own barn, they didn’t let them off the hook, finishing off the sweep:

They then went on to win a seven-game series over the Lightning in the conference finals and then beat the Vancouver Canucks in seven games to hoist the organization’s first Stanley Cup in 39 years.

It’s a rare occasion when pro sports teams can pull off the feats the Red Sox and Bruins did there and get a chance at redemption against the team that broke their hearts the previous season. But when that chance arises it makes for the theater that every sports fan and reporter and of course the athletes themselves long for.

While it’s not pro sports, the Men’s Olympic hockey tournament does have plenty of pro players and now has the potential for such redemption to occur in their semifinals games Friday when USA looks to get redemption for their heartbreaking overtime loss to Canada in Vancouver in 2010.

Four years ago Team USA sent a shot across the bow in the preliminary round beating Canada 5-3 and letting it be known they were a team to be reckoned with. But after somewhat sleepwalking through the games up until the gold medal game (much like they have in Sochi this year) Canada saved their best for last and won one for the ages on Sidney Crosby’s “golden goal” in overtime. With 13 players returning from that 2010 USA team, the Americans have not been shy about the fact that that moment still lingers fresh in their minds and they have channeled the bitter memory into motivation. To this point, USA has arguably been the most dominant and well-balanced team in the tournament and now their moment is here. Te rematch they wanted is there for the taking.

“I think we took a great step in Vancouver, winning that preliminary game [5-2], asserting ourselves on a much more level playing field,” forward David Backes told reporters Friday. “[But] until we get that finish where it’s a critical game and we step above them in the final result, I think we’re still working to achieve that. Until then, the underdog role is what we’ll take.

“We beat ‘em in Vancouver in the prelims. We won the wrong game, I’d say, in Canada. If that was a seven-game series I think it’d be pretty well watched, and it’d be a war through all seven games. Fact is here, we have one game, one shot at it.”

Much like the Red Sox with the Yankees in 2004, Team USA now has that chance to erase history and not be just that annoying kid in the schoolyard that the big bad bullies just brushed away every time they challenged. USA hasn’t had a significant and meaningful win over Canada since the 1996 World Cup. Yes they had their neighbors to the north on the ropes in 2010, but they couldn’t complete the mission and now they have the chance to do so against a Canadian team that to this point has not played as well as them.

“I think we have a chance to try to prove that we’re in the same sentence with Canada,” winger Patrick Kane told reporters Thursday in Sochi. “That’s something USA Hockey has been trying to do for a long time, is prove that we can play with the Canadians and the Russians and the Swedes and Finns consistently on a tournament basis.”

They proved that already with the Russians last Saturday and chances are with the way the 2014 Russian squad played, they would’ve done so again had they met in the semifinals. But now they can do so against the border rivals Friday and then if they win, against either Sweden or Finland for Gold on Sunday.

Great moments are born of great opportunities,” said the late Herb Brooks.

The opportunities the 2004 Red Sox and 2011 Bruins had are now there for this 2014 USA Men’s Olympic Hockey Team. Will they take them and succeed?

Scroll to Top