Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
You're killing us, Sid
Speaking for all Canadian hockey lovers -- we really want that gold
To: Sidney Crosby
From: A nervous couch potato
Re: A tiny favour
Dear Sidney: I realize you are pretty busy today, what with playing against the Americans in the semifinals of the Olympic hockey tournament, but this seemed as good a time as any for a little chat, one regular guy to a superstar.
Before we go any further, Sid -- I hope it's OK if I call you Sid? -- I want to reassure you everyone back home still loves you as much as we can love someone we have never actually met, although you are more than welcome to drop by for a barbecue if you ever happen to be in the neighbourhood.
What I really wanted to talk to you about, Sid, is my health, because, and I mean this in the best possible way, YOU'RE KILLING ME, SID! OK, sorry about all the capital letters, but I wanted to make sure you could hear me all the way over there in Sochi.
What with being a patriotic Canadian, I spent Wednesday in my den cheering you guys on in your tilt against those plucky Latvians. No, hold on, what I meant to say was I spent the day working diligently on several hard-hitting newspaper columns and, when I had a spare minute, I dashed into the den to see how you were making out against Latvia.
As a devoted Canadian fan, I was terrified by what I saw, Sid. Seriously, my heart stopped at least half a dozen times. It's possible it was because of the extra-large bean burrito I had for lunch, but I'm pretty sure that, once again, it was because the best hockey players in the world (I'm referring to you guys, Sid) had an extremely hard time scoring against a team that might have trouble winning a beer league in many Canadian cities. (Note to irate Latvian readers: I am exaggerating here in a sincere and humanitarian effort to light a fire under Sidney Crosby).
Saying the Latvian game was too close for comfort is like saying Justin Bieber has made a few bad decisions lately, if you catch our subtle drift. Seriously, Sid, it was you guys and your combined $156 million in NHL salaries against a 21-year-old goaltender named -- hold on while I look up the spelling of his name again -- Kristers Gudlevskis and his (wait for it) $55,000 American Hockey League salary.
It worries me, Sid, that you guys made a rangy kid from the small town of Aizkraukle look like an all-world goaltender. By the end of the game, Gudlevskis had stopped more (bad word) shots than Sylvester Stallone did in all six Rocky movies. That's a lot of shots, Sid!
I hate to sound like a complainer here, but I'm not sure my heart can survive another nail-biter like the one against the Latvians. Or the Finns. I suspect a lot of rabid fans throughout the country feel the same.
We all know how much you want to win the gold medal. But I'm not sure you know how much WE want you to win the gold medal. And by "we" I am referring to all the non-multimillionaire hockey fans who sit on couches in dark and dreary dens, cold beer in one hand, bag of nacho chips in the other, shrieking our lungs out as you ring yet another puck off the (very bad word) crossbar.
I'm not suggesting that, even with all the medals we've won so far, these Olympics would be a failure if we don't win the gold in hockey. OK, cards on the table, Sid, I am sort of suggesting that, because while we appreciate all winter sports -- even the sight of two guys in Spider-Man suits flying down a mountain together in two-man luge -- we Canadians take our sense of identity from the sport of hockey.
It's who we are, Sid. We can't help it. Our hopes and dreams are wobbling right beside you as you go up against the rest of the world. That said, we'd like to request one small favour.
We would really appreciate it if you guys could steal a page from Winnipeg's Olympic hero Jennifer Jones -- who took no prisoners en route to winning gold in curling on Thursday -- and really put the hammer down, starting today against the Americans, who I'm sure are swell guys but come from a country where professional bowling gets higher TV ratings than the most exciting game in the world, by which I mean hockey.
So I'm hoping you will take my health -- and the health of hockey-loving fans from Cole Harbour to Horseshoe Bay -- into consideration when you hit the ice today, Sid. We'd really appreciate it if you could score a bunch of goals. Big bunches of goals. Put your skate on the gas pedal and don't take it off.
Just be who you are, Sid, namely the best hockey player on the planet. Remember: It's not just the gold medal that's on the line. It's the hearts of millions of adoring fans back home. No pressure, Sid.
Yours in front of the TV in my den,
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 21, 2014 A2
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