TURIN--Shockingly, they didn't close down the XX Winter Olympics today.
Nope, they decided to keep 'em rolling, at least for another four days, despite the fact that for Canadian hockey fans, they ended yesterday in the tiniest rink ever to host a major Canada-Russia tilt.
The moment the last fan left the Torino Esposizioni, they began the process of shutting down the makeshift rink. They'll never play hockey there again, and years from now, the children of Joe Sakic and Martin Brodeur and Rob Blake will return to the scene and wonder: "You played here?"
Canada could only win at women's hockey, not men's, and maybe it was symbolic this morning when Canadian cross-country skiier Beckie Scott was announced as the newly elected member of the IOC's athlete's commission.
Who did she defeat? None other than Finland men's hockey captain Saku Koivu.
Scott outpolled Finnish hockey captain Saku Koivu, although both will serve on the commision, replacing former Finnish hockey star Jari Kurri and Norwegian speedskater Adne Sondral.
Yes, thank goodness for our women.
Canadian hockey fans, needless to say, are going to chew on this stunning hockey setback for a while. the worst performance by a Canadian Olympic entry since, well, how about 1984 in Sarajevo with the national team lost its final three games all by shutout.
In terms of NHLers representing Canada, I been fortunate enough to have covered all or parts of the 1987 and 1991 Canada Cups, the 1996 and 2004 World Cups and the 1998, 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympics.
Of those seven events, this year's Olympic squad was the worst, with a close second the '96 World Cup team that wandered through the event and lost the final to the United States.
Just like then, this year's team had no spirit, no elan. No fire. No joy.
It just seemed a struggle from the very beginning. Outside of the goaltending of Brodeur and Roberto Luongo, nothing really clicked or ever seemed suitably Olympian. Their punishment, and for most of us, it would hardly be punishment, is that it appears they can't get out of Italy as quickly as most would like, such as today.
Team Canada flew all the players, support staff and their families over to Europe Feb. 13th on a Boeing 767, set everybody up in hotels and apartments, with the belief that the worse case scenario would have Canada playing for a bronze on Saturday.
Well, apparently there was a scenario worse than that.
Now, they all have to sit tight until the plane leaves Sunday night, unless the logistics can be figured out and an early departure can be arranged. Some players may head for home on their own, others were considering going skiing in the nearby mountains.
Based on the e-mails that have been flooding in, its clear Pat Quinn is going to receive as much or more blame for this defeat as will Wayne Gretzky and the players.
Not sure that's fair, if only because it lets the players off the hook. What I am sure of is that Quinn will return to a struggling Maple Leaf team next week without the golden glow that accompanied him on his return from Salt Lake City four years ago.
GM John Ferguson arrived in Turin several days ago, and certainly he'll be sitting down with Quinn to try and figure out ways to get a moribund Leaf squad rolling quickly when play resumes next week.
Missing the playoffs is a distinct possibility. The NHL standings, after all, haven't changed during the break, and the Leafs are right back at it Tuesday at home against the Washington Capitals.
Imagine how happy Quinn will be to see Alexander Ovechkin again so soon?
Even reaching the post-season might not be enough for Quinn, and this will be the story to watch in the coming weeks. The man's going to have to coach his butt off to get the Leafs on an upswing, and like the rest of Team Canada, he's going to have to hit the ground running when he returns Monday.
The Leaf players remaining in the tournament - Tomas Kaberle, Aki Berg, Mats Sundin and Mikael Tellqvist - are all going to be competing through Saturday. Compare that to the New Jersey Devils, who had a large group - Brodeur, Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta, Brian Rafalski, Paul Martin - eliminated yesterday.
Yes, there will be a post-Olympic effect. How Quinn and the Leafs handle it will be intriguing to watch.