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The Aftermath

by Anthony Oliva / New Jersey Devils

Canada's gold medal in hockey will go down as one of the greatest moments in hockey history, maybe sports history. I've been in transit for the past 24 hours, so sorry for the lack of updates. I had a quick post-game beer with my new Vancouverian friends, then hopped a flight to LA, followed by the red eye to New York. I'm back in Jersey but aching to be back in Vancouver, despite telling myself its worse for them as that party has suddenly ended.

But what a party it was!

When Zach Parise tied that game at two with 24 seconds left on the clock, three things happened:

1. 34 million mild heart attacks gripped all of Canada
2. I lost my voice in an otherwise silent arena. It was like watching your brother tie the game.  Who wasn't happy to see a Devil do it?

Then the Midas touch of Sidney Crosby ended all my hoopla. A Stanley Cup in June followed by a gold medal less than a year later? That's some hardware you got there, Sid. For the gold medal goal to come off his stick... I'm shaking my head. As depressed as I was amid the celebration of a nation, this is exactly how that story should have been told. The country's new favorite son etching his name alongside Wayne Gretzky's in the mythos of their game. Canada beating the USA on its home turf for a gold medal.

In overtime.

To break the Olympic record of 13 gold medals for any country to win during a single Olympics.

At the final event of the Games. Geez. This is how storybooks are written.

I cried the entire way back to my condo on the corner of Seymour and Davie, and got a few taunts along the way (I was draped in American apparel – not American Apparel), but mostly people either didn't notice the lone American shuffling through the crowd, or – and to Canadians' credit – offered their condolences. When I came here almost three weeks ago, the answer to the question, "Who will you root for?" would garner a resounding, "Le duh." I'm an American. But after going through the entire tournament in "enemy territory," and seeing Team USA come so close... God, that Crosby goal hurt so much more than I ever would have imagined. I guess at the end of the day, that just really means I was a part of it. If had been watching on TV for two weeks, I'd probably let out a sigh and flip the channel.  But this was more like the Devils losing in the playoffs.  So painful to watch.

The two guys that appeared to take it the hardest were Parise, and captain Jamie Langenbrunner. By now, I hope its settling in that they performed admirably, and honestly, this may be a partly homer thing to say, but other than goalie Ryan Miller, this team doesn't come close to silver without Parise and Langenbrunner leading the charge with their tenacity and nose for the net. I'm so happy these guys are Devils.

There's a long-held belief in hockey circles that some championship teams suffer from "Stanley Cup hangover," that they struggled the following year because of a potent recipe of the previous season's prolonged schedule and an inability to get up for a Tuesday night tilt vs. Insert Bottom Feeding Team Here in mid-December. I never really put much stock in that, but I'm pretty sure I have Olympic hangover, and I did was have the privilege to watch. It's back to the NHL grind for me, and I don't know how I'm going to make it to through the next 45 days until the playoffs...

What a ride. Thanks for tuning in, people!

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