Tag Archives: Ilya Kovalchuk

The U.S. Olympic hockey team gives us our first awesome Sochi memory. Ellen Page eloquently comes out. And a crazy half-court shot by a college student

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Through the first week of competition, the Olympics haven’t given you too much to cheer about if you primarily root for Team USA.

Oh, we had a couple snowboarding gold medals, and some decent performances in figure skating, but by the by, the red white and blue have kinda disappointed.

Shaun White? Nothing. Shani Davis? No medals there. And Bode Miller? Until Sunday, he was a non-factor too.

We were looking for that first “Olympics” moment, us American fans were.  And Saturday morning, we got it.

A day and a half later, I’m still shaking my head over what I saw. USA 3, Russia 2, in as crazy and strange and thrilling a shootout as you’ll ever see.

First things first: I’m an enormous hockey fan, which you know. I love the shootout and defend it against many others when it comes to its use in the NHL regular season. But I would never in a million years end a Stanley Cup playoff game, or an Olympics game, with it. It’s a gimmick and not remotely close to “real hockey,” but the NHL regular season is such a grind that I like it there, it breaks up the monotony and is super-fun to watch.

But it shouldn’t be used in an Olympics, which is so rare and special as to happen once every four years.

Saturday’s game, all 65 minutes of it, was marvelous. The Russian crowd was going nuts, there was some controversy over a disallowed goal (a legit call by the refs, but a ballsy one to make in that situation), and the quality of play was fabulous.

And then… the shootout. As crazy as it was to decide this game that way, the international rules allowing the same player to shoot over and over after the first three are done is also insane.

But it sure was fun to watch T.J. Oshie and Russia’s Ilya Kovalchuk basically play one on one for a few minutes against two outstanding goalies. Oshie was like a magician out there; I thought for sure he was going to pull a puck out of his helmet or something. What a marvelous display of skill he put on.

It was a spectacular game, and I’m glad I got to see it. There’s been some backlash since about how overblown the media has been about this game, comparing it to 1980’s Miracle on ice, etc.

Of course those comparisons are absurd; that was for a gold medal against an indomitable powerhouse in the middle of the Cold War. This was a prelim game in 2014 matching two pretty equally-matched teams.

Still, it was thrilling to watch. And I can’t wait for this week’s hockey games, because they ought to be even better.

For the best take on Saturday’s game, I recommend the great SI writer Michael Farber, who wrote here.

**Next up, this was rocketing around the Internet this weekend, and for good reason. The actress Ellen Page, best known for starring in “Juno” (a fabulous movie, if you haven’t seen it), was scheduled to speak at a Human Rights campaign LGBT conference on Friday.

Her speech turned into a coming out of the closet for Page, but that’s almost incidental. Her words are so beautiful, and so poised, here. What a brave, wonderful speech.

**Finally today, a student at West Chester University in Pennsylvania had to make a layup, a free throw, a 3-pointer and a half-court shot in 30 seconds to win $10,000.

No problem. But watch the way he hits the half-court shot; truly amazing.

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The toughest waiter in America. And the NHL does a very cool thing

So you think being a waiter is a tough job requiring tough people? Well, you’re right. But not many are as tough as my new hero, a waiter at the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Skokie, Ill.

Peter Crotty is a 24-year-old waiter who was working on Oct. 29 when three teenagers came in, ordered $51 worth of food, then tried to dash out with it without paying. So Crotty, naturally, chased after them, flung himself onto the side of their SUV, and hung on as the men tried to punch him and get him to fall off.

Eventually, Crotty jumped off, but the police caught the hooligans and arrested them.
I love it. A waiter who takes it personally when you try to stiff the restaurant. That’s one bad-ass waiter, to go chasing after three kids who ran out.
And I loved his quote at the end of the story, about why he ran back to work: “I still had tables.”
I hope everyone in his section gave him a nice big tip that night.

**I don’t write much about the NHL on this blog because I’m sure few of you care as much as I do, and also I haven’t had time to pay much attention to hockey yet this season.
But I heard this Wednesday and thought it was awesome. At the NHL All-Star Game this year, instead of just playing the Eastern Conference vs. the Western Conference, they’re going to select 2 captains and let them pick teams.
Yeah, just like we all did on the playground when we were kids. So Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin could conceivably stand there like two 11-year-olds, going “I’ve got Mike Green,” “OK, then I’m picking Ilya Kovalchuk,” and so on and so on.
I love it. The NHL has said, though, that the last few picks will be made all at once, so some 27-year-old millionaire who’s an All-Star doesn’t have his ego wounded by being the last pick.
Hey, I turned out OK.