Oftentimes before a big game between two heated rivals, a columnist will roll out a setup piece in which he touts himself as objective, but repeatedly demonstrates a clear, shameful, and wholly unprofessional bias for one team or the other.
I am a Canadian, but I want you to know that, on the eve of Canada and the USA's big tilt for a berth in the gold medal game at the Olympic hockey tournament, I'm not going to do that.
I don't have to. I can say, from a place of perfect objectivity, that the Canadians are a better team in every way, and that victory for the great nation from which I also happen to hail is fully assured. Even without John Tavares, lost to a leg injury versus Latvia, the Canadians overmatch the Americans up front, on the back end, and in goal. It is an undeniable fact. From first-line center Sidney Crosby, who has been sparing his magic for a shocking outpouring in this very game, to defenceman Shea Weber, whose shot is more devastating than an unauthorized American drone strike, Canada is simply elite.
The Americans have scored much more easily than the Canadians to date -- of that there is no doubt. But that shooting percentage is unsustainable, and the good fortune they've had versus mediocre netminders like Ondrej Pavelec is bound to dry up against Carey Price, as talented and virtuous a goaltender as you're going to find. Yes, virtuous.
I hate to make this a moral issue. After all, the sort of the columnist I have elected not to be will often paint the team he ostensibly prefers as the white knights of the sport, while suggesting the other club to be villainous, full of shady characters, and so immoral as to be unsupportable by anyone but human scum. He'll often do so with a slanted brush and an intellectually bankrupt argument. Morally bankrupt too, ironically.
[Video: The pressure to win gold in Russia]
But I won't do this, because I don't have to. The American roster is simply dotted with objectively bad people.
Ryan Suter and Zach Parise abandoned the teams that drafted them in an act of despicable collusion and greed, signing twin contracts worth nearly $200 million with the Minnesota Wild. That's nearly more than the gross domestic product of Palau.
Speaking of greed, Derek Stepan held out on the New York Rangers, refusing to join his teammates at training camp until he was paid more millions.
And speaking of the draft, Blake Wheeler refused to sign an entry-level contract with the Phoenix Coyotes, leaving a team that wanted him, and believed he could help them, in the lurch. The Coyotes declared bankruptcy soon after. The city of Glendale, their home, can scarcely afford emergency services any longer. Was this Wheeler's doing? We cannot know for sure.
Max Pacioretty tried to draw a suspension for Zdeno Chara after a collision with a turnbuckle, and once claimed a Toronto Maple Leafs player bit him. Neither incident earned punishment with the NHL, so the only assumption is that Pacioretty was being dishonest about both.
And Jonathan Quick is no role model. He's got a truly foul-mouth, having dropped three F-bombs during the Kings Stanley Cup parade. The children: will someone please think of them?
Before T.J. Oshie was a bashful American shootout hero, he was a party animal that missed practices and let down his teammates.
And Patrick Kane? He beats up cab drivers, the heroes of the road.
In short, this American team are a bunch of bad eggs that cannot be awarded gold in a just world.
There is more on the line than simply a trip to the gold medal game against one of the Scandinavian teams: there's virtue. The Sochi Olympics are about what's right and what's best for the planet and its people, which is why they're in Sochi.
Hockey is about more than just hockey. It's about goodness. There's a reason we say "stay classy" to fans of a winning team. It's because if you're not classy enough, nor moral enough, the win is negated, and we'd hate for that to happen. It's not because we create a false moral high ground to insulate us against the disappointment of losing. No, it is not.
No doubt the Americans are using NSA spy programs and a host of other constitutional violations to eavesdrop on the Canadian game plan, so president Barack Obama doesn't have to borrow more money from China just to buy Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper a second case of beer tomorrow.
And no doubt America wants this very badly, since even they have to be wearying of talking about the Miracle on Ice, that one time America stumbled their way to Olympic gold, several times an hour. It would be nice to have something else to talk about.
But despite all of this -- and, again, this is pure objectivity talking -- the terrible Americans with their mediocre brand of hockey are now less than 24 hours from discovering, for the second straight day, that Canada is the greatest hockey nation on the earth.
America will hide behind their run of Stanley Cups, and it is true that it's been some time since a Canadian team has brought the trophy home. But it's worth noting that, in the NHL, American teams can employ players from the superior hockey nation of Canada.
In the Olympics, they regrettably cannot, and they're about to discover, for the second time in two days, what access to Canadian talent can do for you.
But don't feel too bad, America. At least you'll still have your health. Unless you don't, in which case, you probably have bigger problems to worry about, like how you're going to be able to afford care.
Meanwhile, in Canada, that sort of thing remains free, so we're gonna go spend our money on some new hockey equipment.
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