Last night, my wife and I attended the World Cup of Hockey semifinal showdown between Team USA and the fightin' Finns at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. And there is no doubt that we were robbed. Robbed of the fifty some semolians per ticket that I had plunked down to gain admission.
Losing to Finland in the World Cup of Hockey, as the US did yesterday, is nothing to be ashamed of. The Finns sport a roster consisting mostly of NHL players, including many recognized stars. It wasn't the 2-1 loss that was so disappointing last night. It was the lousy, dull, uninspired style of play that we were forced to endure. The first period and half may have been the worst hockey that I have ever witnessed at that level.
The crowd was muted and quiet through most of the game, but you can hardly blame us. If the players didn't seem to care (especially certain members of Team USA), why should we? I was hoping for a little international flavor at the event, but that too proved to be a letdown. There were a few scattered Finnish fans waving blue and white flags. But there wasn't any singing or chanting, and they were mostly content to politely cheer for their boys in blue.
By far the largest contingent of fureners were from the Great White North. Lots of Team Canada jerseys, and a surprisingly significant showing from hardcore fans of the long gone (to Phoenix) Winnipeg Jets. Poor bastards probably came down to see some high quality puck and has to sit through the crap that passed for world class hockey last night.
There has been squawking about the difficulties in selling tickets for the World Cup games in St. Paul. Look, I'm a huge hockey fan. I love to play and watch the game. In fact I skated earlier this morning. But the 2004 World Cup did not capture my interest. A big part of the problem is timing. It's early September here in Minnesota and we're still trying to cling to the last vestiges of our all-too-short (especially this year) summer. The Twins are closing in on their third straight division title and the over-hyped Vikings open play this Sunday.
Even though it's looking more and more like there won't be an NHL season this year, and the World Cup may be all we get, it's hard to overcome the feeling that it's just not time for hockey yet. After watching last night's dreadful display of dreck, it's a feeling that I most heartily share.