EDITORIAL: Hockey can bring us together

More than 16.6 million people watched Olympic gold-medal final in 2010

Our new favourite guy, at least this week, is Jamie Benn, our very own member of the Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team.

OK, he’s from Victoria, but close enough.

Dan Hamhuis of Smithers, Penticton’s Duncan Keith, Shea Weber of Sicamous and the pride of Anahim Lake, Carey Price, are near the top of our list, too.

There are so many Olympics haters out there, but we ask for a pass today from them, despite their hard-to-argue-against points related to the ridiculous cost of staging an Olympics and how that money could be better spent.

The men on our Olympic hockey team don’t need any money — they are all wealthy NHLers. And this is about hockey, our national passion, so spare us, at least for a day, the Bread Not Circuses argument.

Lest you believe hockey is irrelevant or a trivial pursuit and unimportant to the grand scheme of things, we ask you to consider some numbers and how they show the togetherness of a nation, which can’t be a bad thing.

More than 16.6 million people in this country watched the 2010 Olympic men’s hockey final, making it the most watched television broadcast in Canadian history. Even a regular season game a week ago — albeit outdoors in front of 105,000 spectators — drew an audience of 3.57 million viewers in Canada.

David Suzuki could only dream of those kind of numbers, but in this country, that’s just the nature of things.

Our men’s hockey team will be hard-pressed to repeat as gold medalists, with these Games in Russia on the bigger ice surface and our recent history of flops outside of North America. However, we like our chances.

We will also be keeping tabs on the speed skating oval in Sochi, where the Canadian team has a Qualicum Beach connection — William Dutton.

It just can’t be wrong to cheer for our athletes, these fellow British Columbians who have worked so hard since they were youngsters to reach this stage.

Go Jamie Benn! Go Canada Go!

— Editorial by John Harding

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