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Around the Rink

by Anthony Oliva / New Jersey Devils
After 13 games, 52 hours and 100 goals (nice round number) inside of Canada Hockey Place and UBC Thunderbird Arena, there are a few things I've noticed heading into week two of the Olympic Games:

1. Zamboni is taboo. Zamboni is like Xerox, Band-Aid or Kleenex, a brand that describes the generic product.  GM is a sponsor of the Olympics (yet also somehow lost its naming rights to Canada Hockey Place) and Ford manufactures the engines of Zambonis, so you won't hear that word tossed around until March.  The official term for the ice resurfacing machine?  Olympia.

2. No ads. It took me a while to realize the ice and boards were without advertising, but now that I do, I have this anxiety that they will be a distraction once NHL play resumes.  It's like the black spot that pops up in the top right corner of the screen at the movie theater; you don't ever notice it until some jerk points out that it appears every minute or so, and then you focus on it every time you see a film.

3. Where's Mukmuk?  That's the name of a TV timeout game featuring the Olympics' official "virtual mascot," Mukmuk, who only appears digitally.  SPOILER ALERT: He's in hole #2.

4. Open seating.  One of the biggest controveries of this year's Games has been the swaths of empty seats inside the venues.  I can only speak to what I've seen at UBC Thunderbird Arena and Canada Hockey Place, and yes, both of them have sadly had at least one section's worth of unoccupied seats, sometimes more, depnding on the on-ice match-ups.  Those tickets belong to sponsors who elect to not use them for whatever reason.  Sometimes the games conflict with other events, and sometimes the game in question may not be a desirable match-up.  A report on CTV, a Canadian station covering every angle of the XXI Winter Olympics, also claimed that some sponsors are trying to scalp their complimentary tickets off onto the general public in an effort to recoup some of the money they have invested in the Olympics.


• Congratulations to Teemu Selanne, who became the all-time points leader in Olympic hockey when he picked up an assist in Finland's 5-0 route of Germany.

• In an embarassing moment, I bumped into one of the Sedin twins after Sweden's 4-2 win over Belarus earlier in the day.  As I was about to speak with him, I realized I had no idea which one he was, flubbed my entire intrduction in a spastic moment of confusion, and came off looking like a crazy person as I twitched my way past him.  The sad part is that those guys are probably used to things like that happening to them.  On a related note, despite all the great contributions in my life I can directly attribute to the game of hockey, it has 100% ruined the notion of "Swedish twins."

• Attending/working any game immediately following a game attended/worked that featured Team Canada is like opening a bag of Halloween candy and all the peanut butter cups are gone. There's still a ton of sugar, but it's just not the same.

• Latvia's fan support is unreal. Tons of maroon in the stands, and a lot of loud fans making it known who they root for.  In fairness, many of them are Canadians looking for something to do between Team Canada games, but it's still great to see the underdog get so much love from the audience. When they finally got on the board and cut the Czechs lead to 4-1, I tweeted that you'd think Latvia won the game in overtime.  Once they notched another one, the chants of "Lat-vee-ah! Lat-vee-ah!" echoed in Canada Hockey Place. Great atmosphere.

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