Make no mistake - I'm a proud Canadian and will always cheer for Team Canada.
But there is a part of me that really wants to see Team Russia win Olympic gold at the Sochi hockey tournament. The Russian hockey fans deserve it.
I have always been drawn to the Russian hockey, in particular the Soviet era. I loved their creativity, their puck control, their speed and their unselfish team play that they seem to have gotten away from in recent years. The Soviets played beautiful hockey. To watch them go head to head with Canada at the Canada Cups was an artistic event. I lived and died with every Canadian scoring chance, but I also not so secretly admired Soviet hockey.
Yes, Canada and Russia are two frozen nations (despite what Vancouver and Sochi offer) at opposite ends of pretty much every spectrum you can think of, but we are drawn together by the frozen game. We both share a love of hockey that even in the darkest days of the Cold War brought a certain respect between our peoples.
The Russian hockey fans deserve what we Canadian hockey fans experienced in 2010. As a Canadian - and as a British Columbian on top of that - I had perhaps my greatest hockey memory ever in 2010 - a home Olympics gold medal. Against long odds they did it - WE did it! - and with a defining moment to boot. The hockey victory was great of course, but the overwhelming sense of nationalism that followed forever after continues to amaze me.
I had my moment of euphoria, and for that reason I hope every host nation gets the same experiences. For Russia that can only be accomplished with Sochi hockey gold.
I hope they do it. I hope they do it for Tarasov and Kharlamov and Tretiak. I hope they do it for Bure and Fetisov and Ovechkin. But most importantly I hope they do it for Boris in St. Petersburg and Vasily in Siberia and Vladimir in Moscow. I especially hope they do it for everyone in Yaroslavl.
Go Russia go! Shaibu! Shaibu!