Wilson: Best team doesn't always win gold
Less than 30 minutes after his team lost a heartbreaking, 3-2, overtime decision in one of the best gold-medal games played in Olympic history, Wilson remained on the offensive.
"It's tough to lose a game that way," Wilson said to open his press conference. "I couldn't have asked anything more of our players. They did us proud. They played hard for 60-some minutes, right to the end in regulation and made a great play and found a way to finish us off. But, we are very proud of every one of our players -- their character, how hard they tried, their comportment here has been excellent.
"It's just a shame that both teams couldn't have received a gold medal today. Sometimes, the best team in the tournament doesn't win a gold medal. I thought our team played as well as any team I have ever coached."
That's right, Wilson went there. He said Canada wasn't the best team in the 2010 Olympic hockey tournament, despite the fact that his players were wearing silver around their necks. And, he said it with Mike Babcock, the Canadian coach, sitting right next to him at the podium.
Wilson, though, was just getting warmed up in the closing act of what has been an incredible two weeks of hockey; a tournament, it should be noted, that was headlined as much about the quality of a young American team that played well beyond expectations as much as by a Canadian team that scuffled mightily before finishing golden.
In fact, he used the first question of the press conference to press his point even further. This despite the fact the question was about NHL players being allowed to play in Sochi, Russia, the site of the next Winter Olympics in 2014.
He said he hopes players are allowed to go and, if they are, that they be allowed extra travel time and, also, that the games are played on the smaller, North American ice surface and not the traditional European sheet, which is 20 feet wider.
"I would hope that they play the games on this ice surface, because the games are so much better," Wilson said. "The game tonight had so much intensity. Canada and the United States play the game like it should be -- not sitting back and playing on your heels and waiting for something bad to happen and counter-punching, but actually going on the attack.
"I know Mike (Babcock)'s teams play that way and I try to play that way, not very successfully right now with my team in Toronto."
That crack at the Maple Leafs, Wilson's current NHL home, drew ripples of laughter from the packed press conference. But, Wilson wasn't laughing.
"It's nothing to laugh at," he snapped. "I'm teaching them to play the right way; not the Slovakian, Czech or Russian way where you sit back and wait and wait and wait. We are on the attack."
Furthermore, Wilson loved the results of that hell-bent-for-glory style when it came to Team USA.
Not even the disappointing silver it delivered could tarnish Wilson's enthusiasm for what his team's willingness to attack -- and Canada's willingness to reciprocate -- had created Sunday afternoon at Canada Hockey Place.
For the better part of three hours, a Team Canada ordained to wear gold threw haymakers at the Americans. Each time, Team USA answered. The result was a brutal ballet that demanded the best of the 42 skaters blessed to take part, as well as the two goalies -- American Ryan Miller and Canadian Roberto Luongo.
It didn't end until 7:40 into overtime when Canada's Sidney Crosby -- only the best player in the world -- delivered a stunning coup de grace that finally put the Americans down for the count.
"This was a classic hockey game, just as our game was a week ago with the Canadians and to me it is exactly the way the game should be played, Wilson said. "To me, the game was invented in Canada and I think we in the United States have morphed into the same style of play, and it is fun to play that way and I hope Mike agrees."
Author: Shawn P. Roarke | NHL.com Managing Editor