Well, friends and hate-readers, the 2014 Olympics are over.
That means a lot of things. Fewer reports about frightening looking hotel water, more rumors about tide-turning trades. Lower stakes games on the usual NHL ice surface rather than disappointingly pedestrian hockey on the bigger sheet.
Most importantly - and for some, most agonizingly - that also means that I’m taking back the keys to the Daily Dose after the Rotoworld staff did a bang-up job filling in. Consider this the opposite of Ferris Bueller’s chum Cameron getting his old man’s sports car back after valets had a joy ride; this beast only came back shinier and somehow with less mileage.
Don’t worry, though. I’ll game the speedometer with obtuse and zany metaphors and crowd-dividing puns soon enough. (Maybe I already did *cackles*.)
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To be 100 percent honest, there’s a part of my brain that is still attached to the Olympic athletes I’ll rarely see again until 2018. If you only followed the hockey (and for shame, you missed some astounding feats and plenty of goofball human interest stories), my recap of the most memorable moments of the Winter Games for NBC Olympics should help fill you in on what you're about to read.
You might need that guide, as I’m throwing out a fun exercise: if prominent Olympic athletes or programs were a player or team, who would they be?
U.S. WOMEN’S HOCKEY TEAM = TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Both deploy a Kessel and a Bozak (OK, Bozek and a Bozak). Both gave up substantial third-period leads to lose to hated North American rivals. Jeez, this is getting really uncomfortable for everyone involved ... let's move on.
BODE MILLER = DETROIT RED WINGS
Grizzled veterans who carry a ton of name recognition, and while they’re beyond their best days, you’d be foolish to count them out of any big competition. Wobbly knees likely. The biggest difference is that Miller could practically fill a documentary with his on-the-record quotes alone while even HBO couldn’t spice up the Red Wings.
SOCHI BEAR = CARLTON THE BEAR
If you’re a goofball like me, one of your favorite running storylines of the Olympics boiled down to “What will that wacky mascot do next?” To review, the Sochi Bear:
-- Couldn’t fit his enormous head in a minivan but couldn’t exactly break character and take it off, either, leading to shenanigans that I’m pretty sure were signs of real frustration instead of viral genius.
-- Looked despondent after Russia’s crushing men’s hockey loss to Finland, which I’m pretty sure was glorious meta-joke. Or it was a guy/gal totally bummed out in a costume with a huge polar bear head. Either way, inspired comedy in my e-book.
-- In his most Carlton-esque move, the Sochi bear hovered over the U.S. men’s hockey bench in a creepy-adorable way during their eventual loss to Finland. For a United States situation that became increasingly glum, this was about the happiest image of the team since T.J. Oshie rode his 15 minutes of shootout fame.
-- Both clearly bring barrels of fuzzy joy peoples’ way, as you can see when Keith Jones couldn’t help but mimic the Sochi bear’s outstanding dance moves.
SHANI DAVIS = RUSSIA’S MEN’S HOCKEY TEAM
Need a reason to respect this powerhouse? Just look at the list of medals on his/their resume. Sure, you could see some flaws going in (age for Davis, politically-charged roster padding for Russia), but few expected either to flame out without really even sniffing a medal. Davis can hold his head significantly higher, however, as Russia’s golden days in men’s hockey are becoming an increasingly distant memory.
MIKAELA SHIFFRIN = NATHAN MACKINNON
Already undoubtedly fitting in at age 18 with some strong early results, but the future seems even more promising. While Shiffrin distinguishes herself by possessing the techniques of a technically savvy veteran as opposed to MacKinnon’s instantly-NHL-ready speed, they’re both clearly naturals.
It’s hard to imagine MacKinnon doing the NHL equivalent of what Shiffrin did after winning gold: daydreaming about winning five more in 2018. That would require an unusual mixture of hubris and self-promotion, an almost required skill set for Olympians who don’t enjoy the same reliable money-making apparatus in their sports as the NHL provides.
POLINA EDMUNDS = ALEKSANDER BARKOV
Both seem Russian yet they played where they grew up (San Jose and Finland respectively). Neither made a huge Olympic impact in 2014, but with Edmunds at 15 and Barkov at 18, the future could be quite bright.
SAGE KOTSENBURG = JOEL WARD/CHRIS KONTOS/BRYAN BICKELL/ANY NUMBER OF OUT-OF-NOWHERE PLAYOFF SUCCESSES
Admit it; you could totally see Bryan Bickell lamenting a lack of bacon-related NHL trophies.
TED LIGETY = SIDNEY CROSBY (IN 2014, AT LEAST)
If you ask me, it almost felt like a formality with these guys winning their respective gold medals. Each came in as heavy favorite (one individually, the other part of a hockey juggernaut) and won gold by performing masterfully … but not necessarily memorably, at least for them.
Crosby was better than his numbers indicated, yet he still didn’t dominate in the box scores like he normally does. Ligety enjoyed a blistering first run in the giant slalom before essentially not making too many big mistakes in his second, gold-clinching run.
I’m not knocking either star by any means, yet in an Olympics full of drama and upsets, their wins didn’t ever really break from the script.
ADELINA SOTNIKOVA’S GOLD = BRETT HULL’S FOOT IN THE CREASE?
Hey, at least the NHL doesn’t seemingly deal with a foot-in-the-crease scale controversy in every Stanley Cup-deciding game, as figure skating judging makes NHL video review, gnawing indifference to obstruction calls and any number of other officiating frustrations look like child’s play.
People will mumble insults at Sotnikova’s gold and Hull’s Stanley Cup-winning goal for the Dallas Stars, but both probably don’t care enough for that to be a major problem. Hull even trolls Buffalo Sabres fans every now and then about it.
SETH WESCOTT = KEITH YANDLE
The two head-scratching omissions probably dealt with head-scratching conflicts: frustration in watching their countries fail yet maybe a dash of "I told you so" in viewing the glaring obviousness of where they could have helped.
(Also applicable to Bobby Ryan.)
DANCIN' KATE HANSEN = BIZ NASTY
The beauty of social media is that it gives forgettable athletes the chance to be unforgettable. Few exemplify that better than U.S. women's luger Kate Hansen and NHL enforcer Paul Bissonnette.
Neither is remarkable at their sport, yet they draw eyeballs with their shenanigans to the point that they generate more headlines than would-be stars.
This would get downright spooky if Biz Nasty is a huge Beyonce fan, by the way.
Note: Yes, the Dose will get back to shooting percentages and trade deadline talk as usual on Friday. Feel free to share your own Olympic-NHL parallels on Twitter or via e-mail.
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