Stan Butler's Diary

DAY THREE, MOSCOW - Dec. 28, 2000
Post Game Report vs. Finland

Taking nothing away from Belarus, the tournament really started for us tonight. I thought it took a significant amount of time for us to adjust to the speed of the Finns.

But, lets face it, none of the top eight teams in this tournament are going to be blown out. You're not playing 9-0 games against teams like Finland. I mean, even the Swiss team battled the Russians to a tie in their first game. This tie against Finland was a learning experience for us. And it was a learning experience without being a losing experience. That doesn't always happen in the sports world.

It's a funny thing - you face all of the questions afterwards and people sometimes try to put a negative spin on things. I guess that's where the coach in me comes out. I like to be positive; and there was a lot to be positive about in that game for us. Maxime played a great game again. I think Barret Jackman was outstanding. We only have two 19 year olds taking a regular shift on the blueline for us in this tournament....and our younger guys have really had to deliver for us.

I'm also pretty happy with the way Jason Jaspers, Derek Mackenzie and Dave Morisset have all readily adopted the checking role we've put them into. These guys are all top offensive players with their club teams. They see power play time and are out there in key offensive situations. But here they're happy to do what's best for the team. I'm really looking forward to the game against Russia. For someone my age it conjures up memories of 1972 and the Summit Series.

After our practice yesterday we all took a tour of the Luznyki Ice Palace where the final four games of the '72 series were played. I felt like "Stan the Tourist". I got my picture taken standing in the spot in front of the goal where Paul Henderson was when he scored the winner in Game Eight. Most of the players did too. We also went into what was the Canadiandressingroom. I can only imagine what it must have been like in there for those players back in 1972 - knowing that a whole nation was hanging on every shift they took. I know none of the players on this team were even close to being born (unless some of their parents were into extremely long term planning), but I still think they're as aware as I am of the hockey history our country has with Russia (and, before that, the Soviet Union).

You know, when you think about it, hockey is one of the few things that we as Canadians really stand up on the world stage and pump our chests out about. We come to win at this game. It's first or nothing. We're like that on a hockey rink because this game is such a major part of our heritage. And me and Mike, Kevin and Mark and every guy wearing a Canadian sweater tomorrow will be taking the weight of that pride out there not on our backs, but on the front of the sweater. Right there in the middle of that big maple leaf that so many other great teams have worn before us. I can hardly wait.

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