SOCHI, Russia – The Stanley Cup visited Canada House and USA House on Monday to much fanfare. Everyone was excited to see hockey’s Holy Grail appear in the Olympic Park.
Well, almost everyone.
Brian Stemmle was a Canadian Olympic downhill skier in four Winter Games. He does not like seeing the Stanley Cup in Sochi. Not one bit.
“Why is the Stanley Cup at Canada House in Sochi?” he tweeted. “Other athletes don’t bring their trophies. Hate when hockey tries to overshadow other sports.”
Let’s start with the obvious: The Stanley Cup is awesome.
It’s the most recognizable trophy in sports. It’s carted around men in white gloves. You can drink beer out of it.
Why don’t other athletes bring their trophies? Because nobody cares about them.
Here, gaze upon the Alpine Skiing World Cup:
“Quick, everyone to Canada House! An oversized drawer knob from your great aunt’s armoire is there!”
said no one ever.
But mostly, Stemmle’s off-base because he doesn’t really have a sense of scene.
It’s an ignorance of what was actually happening at Canada House on Monday, where athletes from every Olympic concentration had their starstruck moment with the Cup. Like Patrick Chan, figure skater, who hugged and kissed the Cup like it was his pairs partner.
Wow, what a concept: The most recognizable artifact in Canadian sports visits Canada house. Clearly this is hockey’s attempt to usurp the popularity of moguls!
I mean, look how miserable they are to see the Cup…
And check out the misery of the U.S. delegation when the Cup visited USA House:
It’s also ignorant of what the Sochi Games are, at least in the coastal arena cluster, which is a large scale Stanley Cup Final.
If you hate when hockey overshadows other sports, then you most loathe the Sochi Games.
I’ve been in the Olympic Park every day and night since opening ceremonies. There haven’t exactly been millions of spectators filing through like in London. There were times when I wondering if the only people in attendance at the Games were volunteers in multicolored jackets and athletes’ families.
When hockey began, the Olympic Park came to life. And it’s remained that way. Hockey is everywhere: On the backs of fans, on the scoreboard atop Bolshoy Ice Dome that shines brighter than the torch, on the Coke machines that have Alex Ovechkin’s face bellowing on it.
Yes, Coke. A trademarked brand. There are dozens of them officially associated with the IOC. The NHL isn’t one of them, although its players populate the rosters of its hockey tournament. The NHL shuts down its season for weeks, risks the health of its stars on the world stage, and then has to throw a hissy fit just to get extra signage from the IOC to direct players’ families to their rooms.
If one wanted to be cynical about the NHL using the Stanley Cup to put itself over in these games, I’d argue that there are so few tangible benefits to the League for participating here that a little guerilla marketing can’t be demonized.
But that’s if you ascribe to the “Stanley Cup equals NHL” ideal. I don’t, and not just because the NHL doesn’t own the Stanley Cup.
The Stanley Cup represents the pinnacle of team achievement in a given sport. It’s something players grow up dreaming about. It’s something athletes come from all over the world to compete for, fight for, bleed for, to great sacrifice of time and health and personal life.
So you can understand why an Olympian might dig it.
More Winter Olympics coverage from Yahoo Sports:
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- Canada House
- Brian Stemmle
- Stanley Cup