Double gold medalist Canadian Olympian figure stater Scott Moir is now an honourary lifetime Kivalliq hockey fan.
After the image of him swigging a beer while berating the refs in the first period of the women’s hockey gold medal game pitting the U.S.A. against Canada went viral around the globe this past week at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, how could he not be?
No matter what your personal view of the sport, the image became instant Canadiana and is guaranteed to be around for a very, very long time in our country’s annals of sports folklore and iconic moments.
The image that went viral during the medal presentation concerning Canadian female hockey player Jocelyne Larocque is, however, one of a different colour that sparked a firestorm of controversy.
I, for one, have long been against athletes showing disrespect for a medal won for no other reason other than it is not the shade of metal they envisioned receiving upon entering an event.
And, hey, second best in the entire world is not that bad, eh?
The question here, however, is did Larocque actually disrespect the medal by holding it in her hand rather than wearing it around her neck for the duration of the ceremony?
I give Larocque full marks for publicly apologizing to everyone under the sun the following day. It was a class act by a world-class athlete.
But in this case, I really don’t think the Canadian hockey player did anything wrong. It’s not like she refused to accept the medal or tossed it away after receiving it.
She was overcome with emotion and bitter disappointment after she and her teammates left everything they had on the ice while representing their country on one of the world’s biggest hockey stages and, in the end, it wasn’t good enough for gold. On this day, the Americans were simply the better hockey team.
It came as no surprise that many of the folks bashing her were not of the hockey community and have little to no understanding of the emotions that permeate this sport from top to bottom, at every level.
Sure, there’s little doubt, because of all the hoopla, Larocque probably would prefer to have those moments back and just let the damn thing hang around her neck as she fought to hold back her tears in front of the world.
But those same emotions that caused her to choose to hold the medal in her hand are the same emotions that drive the sport of hockey.
They are the same emotions that unite the vast majority of Canadians from coast to coast to coast during that time of year in our nation known as hockey season.
The players who don the red and white to represent Canada on the international stage are the same as the rest of us in that they love this sport and view hockey as Canada’s game. They know they are truly blessed to possess the level of talent and to be able to put in the amount of work necessary (Larocque played almost 31 minutes in the gold medal game) to be chosen to represent us and defend that claim.
And, as such, they feel the disappointment of a loss even deeper in their souls than we do; the millions and millions of us, dressed in all manners of national paraphernalia, glued in front of our TV screens across the nation cheering them on.
Those same emotions have, so often, spurred our national teams to victory, sometimes against almost impossible odds, so is it any wonder they manifest themselves just as strongly when they fall just short of their intended goal?
For what it’s worth, Jocelyne Larocque is a class player and a class individual who displayed a brief few moments of succumbing to the human frailty we like to refer to as a broken heart.
The image of her visibly shaken, head down and eyes closed while fighting back the tears, is every bit a moment of Canadiana frozen in time as Moir’s earlier in the proceedings.
You did us proud, Jocelyne!