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Only Olympic hockey talk today

Tuesday, 02.23.2010 / 9:51 AM / Columns

By Paul Kukla - NHL.com Correspondent

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Only Olympic hockey talk today
The trade deadline and stretch drive can wait until another day says Paul Kukla. Today, the talk in hockey is all about the Olympics.
We could talk trade deadline day in the NHL, which is quickly approaching, but not today.

We could talk the NHL playoff race, so many teams involved and not many spots available, but not today.

No, today we will talk about a topic that has gripped the hockey world -- the size of the goalie pads. Oops, how did that get in there?

Of course, the topic at hand is the Olympic hockey and what team will leave with gold around their necks.

Today, as the Qualification Round takes place, all teams are 0-0 but at the end of the night, four teams will be packing their bags and four teams will survive to play in the Quarterfinal Round tomorrow.

Olympic Gear Now I am not going to tell you who will win today or tomorrow, but what I will say is we are about to witness hockey like it is meant to be played.

I am sure you will all agree we have been treated to some fantastic hockey in these last eight days and I anticipate the level of play will only increase as we get closer to the gold medal game Sunday.

Perhaps it is true patriotism. Perhaps it is the fear of being embarrassed. Whatever the reason, when these hockey players are wearing the home country name on the front of their sweater we tend to see hockey being played the way we want it played.

Skill, passion, hard hitting, great individual effort, team play, all have been used to describe the hockey action coming out of Vancouver.  More of the same is all we can ask for and I feel we will see the intensity level increase until it reaches the pinnacle at the gold medal game.

The realization of teams being eliminated today and tomorrow is upon us and I am sure the players involved know what a loss mean too.  All the players from all the teams don’t want to go home, but unfortunately they will, starting today.

A perfect gold medal game for me is Team USA against Team Canada.  Then I think it again, and say Team Sweden against Team USA or maybe Team Russia vs. the red, white and blue.  You probably have your own perfect scenario for the final game, but as you know, we can’t control the outcome of the games.  Only the players have that ability to determine their team’s destiny and as fans, we should cheer as loudly as possible and also sit back and enjoy quality of hockey we are seeing right in front of us.

Last Sunday was considered "Super Sunday" by many in the hockey world.  Three games, all involving rivals and it sure was enjoyable to watch.  More of the same is about to play out beginning today, "Terrific Tuesday," "Wow Wednesday," "Fantastic Friday" and then "Golden Sunday" are ways to describe the action, but I prefer just great hockey and that my hockey friends, is all we hope it will be.

Now I turn it over to you.  What is your attitude during these games?  Are you "all in,", backing your country and anything below a gold medal would be considered a failure?  Maybe you are just a fan of hockey, with no real attachment to any team, you just want to watch hockey.  Or you are torn, rooting for players from your NHL team but they happen to be wearing the opposing sweater of the country you are rooting for?

Your comment can be entered here and I am anxiously awaiting to read all the responses from hockey fans worldwide.

Whatever the outcome of the hockey being played at these Winter Olympics, we have been lucky to witness probably the greatest hockey tournament to date.  The best is yet to come and may the best team win!

As always, feel free to email me with any comments or questions at pk@kuklaskorner.com or follow me on Twitter.


Quote of the Day

We think that Randy is a very good coach. Our players think that Randy is a very good coach. We think that he's going to get the most out of this group. With the addition of the two assistants, a bit of a different dynamic, we're very comfortable that this is a quality coaching staff that's going to maximize the potential of this team.

— Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis on head coach Randy Carlyle and his staff