Dan Hamhuis returned yesterday to Vancouver an Olympic gold medallist. He didn’t play a whole lot in the tournament, and only saw one shift in the gold medal game — the final one, as Mike Babcock threw him a bone by sending him over the boards to watch the clock tick away from the ice — but there’s no doubt that he still values the experience.
It’s over now, however, and Hamhuis must immediately transition back from a team where he’s a little-used depth defender to a team where he’s the number one option, averaging 24:28 a night.
There are upsides and downsides to this. The upside: you play more. That’s fun. You certainly didn’t work your way up to the bigs just so you could attend games for free. The downside: playing more means more opportunities to make mistakes, and if you’re playing for John Tortorella and Mike Sullivan, that means more opportunities to draw nasty looks like this:
I love the way Hamhuis is staring blankly ahead, as though he isn’t getting the dagger treatment from two of the grumpiest coaches in the business. What else can you do when you know this is going on behind you?
They are not impressed. I know because Sullivan is channelling McKayla Maroney something fierce.
Look at these guys, playing a little good-coach-bad-coach. On this day, Sullivan’s the angry one. The scary one. And Tortorella looks a little distant, a little aloof. I’m not mad, you can imagine him saying, just disappointed.
Even though nobody’s saying a word, there’s a whole conversation going on here. You just know it. It probably goes something like this:
Sullivan: “Really, Dan? That’s the play you chose to make?”
Tortorella: “It wasn’t the right play, Dan.”
S: “It was the wrong flippin’ play, Dan.”
T: “Really wrong, Dan.”
S: “I’m just flabbergasted at that dumb decision, Dan.”
T: “It was the wrong decision, Dan.”
S: “It was really the wrong decision, Dan.
T: “Really wrong, Dan.”
S: “Sometimes I don’t even know what’s going through your flippin’ head, Dan.”
T: “I don’t either, Dan.”
S: “Neither of us do, Dan.”
T: “We really don’t, Dan.”
S: “Help us understand, Dan.”
T: “Help us, Dan.”
S: “Because we just don’t know. That’s an idiot play. An idiot makes that play.”
T: “Are you an idiot?”
S: “You must be. An idiot makes that play, Dan.”
T: “Were you thinking?”
S: “Because if you were thinking, you’d have made a different play.”
T: “You couldn’t have made the play you made if you were thinking.”
S: “You weren’t thinking.”
T: “It wasn’t the right play, Dan.”