Let the Gamesmanship begin

Who's going to win? They are!

If you thought the Canadian men’s hockey was the prohibitive gold-medal favorite at these Olympics, Steve Yzerman has news for you.

“Do you think they’ll have a parade in Moscow if Russia wins a silver medal?” Team Canada’s executive director asked a Russian reporter, who had suggested the Canadians face enormous pressure. “The Russians have won the last two world championships. They’re bringing their best players. They’re the favorites going into this thing.”

In fairness to Stevie Y, the reporter had tried needling him, noting that Canada fell flat at the 2006 Games in Turin, and that our under-20 team had lost at the world junior championship. Canada is now just another hockey country, was the inference, yet the entire nation expects its players to win gold. How will they cope?

It was also about the fourth formulation of the how-will-they-cope question Yzerman answered at his first news conference of the Games. All the others met with a nice platitude about everyone being in this tournament to win (hey, let’s not forget about Sweden!).

And let’s be honest, the jockeying for underdog status is a time-honoured tradition in sports.

Still, this is more evidence that the former Detroit Red Wings captain is worried about the crushing expectations on his team—and that he is desperately trying to manage them.

Good luck with that.