Saturday, February 27, 2010
By Scott Morrison CBC Sports
VANCOUVER - His tongue was placed firmly in cheek when he said it, or so it seemed, but Team Canada coach Mike Babcock suggested the other night that, given the record of the Americans and the thumping they gave Finland in the semi-finals, that surely they had to be the favourites to win gold.
Not so much countered Team USA general manager Brian Burke on Saturday, the eve of the gold-medal game with Team Canada.
"If you believe they are the underdogs, then you better put on some knee-high boots because the manure is piling up," said Burke. "It cracks me up, everyone says we keep playing the underdog card, but we have the youngest team in the tournament and no one expected us to get this far, nevermind win."
And Babcock's comment?
"That's playing the card," said Burke.
And so it went Saturday in the build up to the big game.
Burke went on to explain why his team are legitimate underdogs, though he always believed they had the ability to succeed.
"How many Hall of Famers do we have on our roster," continued Burke. "Look at theirs and there are a couple of shoo-ins, starting with Scott Niedermayer. Go back to the pre-tournament analysis.
"This is where I always felt we could be. I thought we were better than the media gave us credit for being and that's not throwing rocks. I believed in this group."
Getting back to Burke's question about potential Hall of Famers, at this point there isn't anyone on the American roster that you would suggest is a slam dunk yet. They do have a group of young players who have the potential to be Hall of Famers, however.
Canada, meantime, does have the likes of Niedermayer and Martin Brodeur and Jarome Iginla, who are slam dunks, with Sidney Crosby and a handful of others destined for it.
Here is a further breakdown of the rosters:
Stanley Cup wins: Canada 15, USA 5
Major Trophy wins: Canada 25, USA 4
"I don't feel there is any pressure on our team," said Burke. "The pressure started for Team Canada when Vancouver was awarded the games 10 years ago. All the pressure is on Canada."
Perhaps the war of words, especially the assertions by both teams they are underdogs, was best summed up by American winger David Backes:
"I guess it's going to be a dog fight."
Game starts at Sunday 3:15pm ET
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