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No Silver Lining To U.S. Olympic Finish For Wilson

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Ron Wilson will tell you, there is only one result that counts.

Wilson coached Team USA to the verge of a gold medal in Vancouver. After falling a goal short in the world’s most prestigious hockey tournament, Wilson returns to a Leafs team with 19 wins in 61 games.

“We’re all disappointed we didn’t reach our goal, a gold medal,” Wilson said. “That’s going to sting for a while, but we all have jobs to do.”

Wilson, like everyone but the good people at Pravda, was delighted in the mountainous support showed by red-sweatered Canadian fans.

“I’d never seen Canadians so patriotic and expressing themselves patriotically,” he said. “You could wear the U.S. stuff, Canadian stuff, you wouldn’t get hassled, but I couldn’t believe all the red and white I saw.”

While the American team overachieved, the only Leaf Wilson inherited, Phil Kessel, had little impact.

Kessel had just one goal and one assist in the tournament and Wilson acknowledged Kessel needs to consider the sacrifices his teammates made to compete.

“I want Phil to look and see how everybody prepares for games and all the work they do and see what they have done to get as good as they are,” Wilson said. “That’s what I want Phil to take away.”

If there was consolation in pushing Canada, the consensus pre-tournament juggernaut to overtime in the gold medal game, Wilson did not see it.

“Our business is about winning the whole thing and not putting it in perspective. You don’t think in terms of anything but winning the whole thing. In five years, no one’s going to give a damn about how. It’s who won. We know that.”

Unlike the Canadian media, Team USA never wrote Canada off after their round robin loss to the Americans, Wilson said.

“We didn’t write them off, but everybody here had them written off. The biggest surprise was how Marty Brodeur, the greatest goalie in the history of the game, was thrown under the bus. They backed over him and forward and back, forward and back. They almost tarnished his career on one night. He didn’t have a good night but part of that had to do with how well we pressured them.”

Wilson didn’t waver on his assessment that Canada always had the better collection of talent.

“On paper we don’t match up with a lot of those teams. Our group cared and came together quickly and we became a team probably faster than anybody there. When you play like a team, particularly with some of the talent and speed we had, you’re going to play well.”

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