The First Step on the Road to Redemption for the Men's Canadian Hockey Team

The Canadian Men's Hockey team's gold medal campaign is being called 'redemption.' Most Canadian hockey fans and anyone involved in Team Canada are ashamed of the performance at Turin 4 years ago. For the country that is synonymous with the sport of hockey, it was embarrassing that our best were unable to place better than 7th. When NHL players are allowed to participate in the Olympics, the expectations are incredibly high for Canada to do very well. Actually, even without NHL players, the expectation for Canadian success are huge. Look at are Junior teams, we almost always do extremely well at the world championships, often claiming the top prize. This time around, on home soil, the pressure is on for the men's hockey team to put on the best performance possible, hopefully, create a magical moment that rivals the gold medal win in 2002 in Salt Lake City.

Tonight was Canada's first chance to show what they could offer when they took on Norway. The interesting thing is despite the team being stacked with NHL all stars that doesn't mean they are strong as a team; it should be noted they have only had one major practice as a team since being formed. For true success, there has to be major team cohesion. Of course, the opposition of Norway was not considered a threat, thus a chance for Canada to work out kinks and begin to gel as a team.

I have to say the first period, where Canada went scoreless, was a little worrying. It became clear that Canada was lacking some very important aggression. One couldn't help from worrying if this was a sign for yet another rough tournament. Fortunately, by the end of the game that was all erased as they routed Norway with a 8-0 victory. When it was all over, it was clear Canada started to become more comfortable with each other and was becoming a more aggressive team. The true test will be when they are up against much stiffer competition such as the US on Sunday. Though Norway should not be completely discounted, because despite never really having a chance, they played a really strong game against a team of mostly NHLers (any non NHLers are top prospects).

As stated, it is hard to say what Canada's chances are at this point. There are a lot of solid teams out there such as the US and Sweden. This isn't like Olympic Basketball where only one country has all the professional athletes. The NHL is full of great international stars, thus many countries have a chance at the gold.

I'm sure some may be disappointed that all the focus is being put on the men's hockey team, when we have a even stronger squad in the women's hockey team. The women are consistently blowing out all the competition, and really only have one threat which is the United States. If we really want a gold medal in hockey, our best chances lie with the women.

Unfortunately, the women get downplayed when it comes to the men. Sure, we are rooting for the women's team and I know a lot will be watching them if they are in the finals. We will all be happy if they bring home the gold. The reality is men's hockey is the cornerstone and main event of the Olympics for Canadians. The proof is in the 2002 Olympics finals, which to this day is the highest watched television program in Canada. I almost guarantee that the record will be broken if the Canadians make it to the finals this time around on home soil.

At the same time, while it is unfortunate the women are not getting the same focus that also means they don't have the same pressure. The expectations on the men are huge, and there will be a massive backlash if the men are not in medal contention. I don't think that would be the same with the women, even though it would be a massive upset if the women are not in the finals.

The next few games should be very interesting for the men. Will they continue to grow as a team and become even more aggressive. Are these high paid players really inspired and motivated to take the gold? I honestly think they are. It is easy to bash players for being ego centric and prima donnas who make massive amounts of cash. The reality is they are still Canadians and they still have pride. Besides that issue, anyone that is complaining about the team now, will forget those complaints if the men end up becoming Olympic champions.