Bryan Bickell was up early on Sunday, watching his Canadian brethren half a world away. He was watching Team Canada win gold again, watching Chicago Blackhawks teammate Jonathan Toews score a big goal again.
“I’m kind of biased, but it’s nice to see Canada win,” Bickell said with a grin. “They’ll be happy to be back, and we’ll be waiting for them when they do.”
The Blackhawks who didn’t attend the Olympics were supporting those who did, whether they were winning gold, silver or coming up achingly short on any medal. Most players were watching Sunday morning’s gold-medla game despite its very early start on this side of the pond. Granted, some struggled.
“I watched the first two periods, fell asleep during second intermission and didn’t wake up until it was over,” Kris Versteeg said. “I’m proud of them. I wouldn’t wake up for a game at (6 a.m. Central) if I weren’t proud. I can barely wake up for my own hockey at (6 a.m.).”
For the Blackhawks’ Canadian players, seeing Team Canada win gold for the second consecutive Olympics was a thrill. Toews and defenseman Duncan Keith claimed their second gold medals while Patrick Sharp won his first. That was true for goaltender Corey Crawford, who would’ve loved to be part of the Games.
“It’s special to see Duncs and Toewser win another one and Sharpie winning his first. I’m happy for those guys. Everyone here was really pleased with how they played,” he said. “I don’t know what else to say; it’s probably a special feeling for them.”
For Brandon Bollig, watching Team USA was thrilling and difficult at the same time. Team USA, which had been scoring at will for most of the tournament, was blanked in the semifinal and bronze-medal games against Canada and Finland, respectively, and didn’t medal.
“Obviously we were hyped up for that game (vs. Canada),” said Bollig, who was raised in the St. Louis area. “It was a great hockey game. Unfortunately we didn’t do it. I’m not sure what happened; I wasn’t there. But it’s unfortunate. It’s a great team, played well, but they didn’t get the outcome they wanted.”
Patrick Kane went goal-less for Team USA in the tournament. He had two penalty shots against Team Canada, missing the net on one and hitting a post on the other. It was a tough go for him, points-wise, although Kane was one of the stronger players in those final games. Coach Joel Quenneville doesn’t see Kane struggling when he returns to the Blackhawks.
“He’s having a great year. His consistency this year has been in the right place, game-in, game-out he’s a threat,” Quenneville said. “You watched him over there, he had the puck a lot. He has the puck a lot here and does a lot of good things.”
Meanwhile, Antti Raanta was smiling at Team Finland claiming bronze on Saturday morning. Teemu Selanne, who scored twice in the bronze-medal game, was named MVP for the tournament. Raanta is as impressed as anyone at what the 43-year-old Selanne’s done.
“Somebody was saying he still looks like a 20-year-old,” Raanta said. “He’s been the No. 1 guy in Finnish hockey for so long. When he got the chance, he usually scored. I’m really happy for him.”
The Blackhawks’ Olympians will return to the ice in due time. But be it win gold, win silver or not win at all, their Blackhawks teammates and coaches enjoyed watching them.
“I was very proud of the guys,” Quenneville said. “We had six guys going for the gold medal. I thought everybody represented the organization and their countries and their own teams extremely well.”