Sidney Crosby

How things have changed for key U.S., Canadian players since Sidney Crosby’s golden goal

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A simple, quick shot from Sidney Crosby won gold for Canada in men’s hockey in Vancouver, earning an iconic triumph for the host country.

It also (understandably) wiped away the memory of U.S. forward Zach Parise’s timely tying goal, which sent that gold medal game to overtime on Feb. 28, 2010.

For those who watch most (if not all) of their hockey during the Olympics, the question might be: “What has happened since then?” Olympic Talk takes a look back at those goals and how life has changed for some of the key figures involved.

CROSBY ENTERS PRIME, FACES TURMOIL

source: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

Along with Paul Henderson, Crosby cemented himself as a legend among many Canadian fans for scoring that goal. He recounted his spotty memory of that moment in an oral history from NHL.com:

“I just remember just little snapshots. I don’t even remember necessarily scoring. Just right before it, kind of the anticipation. Knowing that there was some space and [being] kind of all alone in front. That’s kind of what I remember, that kind of desperation to hopefully get the puck there and put it in. Everything after that is kind of a blur.”

With that goal, Crosby already had a Stanley Cup ring and gold medal on his resume at age 22. He’s dealt with some peaks and valleys since then, as concussion issues and playoff disappointments are accompanied by his still-blistering NHL scoring.

Now, if he could just generate more offense in the Olympics …

Jarome Iginla – the man who sent the pass to Crosby; the player who prompted the Canadian star to yell “Iggy!” – is currently playing for the Boston Bruins after a brief spell with Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins. He didn’t make the Canadian Olympic team this time around.

ZACH PARISE MOVES, PATRICK KANE RISES

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Credit: Getty Images

Zach Parise has an interesting perspective on that situation. He’s the guy who buried the goal that sent the game to OT (after some great work by Patrick Kane), but was also on the ice for Crosby’s game-winning tally. He admitted to NHL.com that those moments follow him even as he left the New Jersey Devils for the Minnesota Wild.

“To this day we get reminded of it all the time and you get asked about what it felt like to come that close. So it never really goes away. Two days later you have to go back and start up your NHL season but you never really completely block it out of your mind. You never forget how it felt to lose that game.”

One could argue that Kane is the player with the highest highs and lowest lows following this tournament. There have been off-the-ice troubles, yet the crafty winger won two Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks since that silver medal run and continues to climb the ranks of the league’s elite scorers.

RYAN MILLER’S UPS AND DOWNS

source: Reuters
Credit: Reuters

Ryan Miller was the U.S. goalie who allowed that goal, which is something he dealt with some time, even if he doesn’t beat himself up about it any longer.

Immediately following that performance, the silver medalist received deserved credit for outstanding work throughout the Olympics. He was named the tournament MVP. A Pittsburgh crowd booed its own star Crosby and cheered him in a game right after that run. Miller carried that Olympic momentum into the remainder of that NHL season to win his only Vezina trophy for best goalie.

Things haven’t been so great since that 2009-10 season, however, as he’s struggled – at least in the standings – with the Buffalo Sabres. He’s also backing up Jonathan Quick, so Miller attempting to thwart Crosby this time around may be a bad sign (being that Quick would either get pulled or injured in that situation).

ROBERTO LUONGO’S STRANGE JOURNEY

source: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

Much like Miller, Canadian goalie Roberto Luongo made his team’s roster but hasn’t been chosen as the No. 1 guy. Despite that gold medal on his resume, Luongo finds himself as Carey Price’s backup.

Goalie controversies are nothing new to Luongo, who has faced turmoil despite being the go-to goalie for 2010 host city Vancouver’s Canucks. He suffered a painful loss against the Bruins in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, dealt with a soap opera in the competition he faced with former Canucks backup Cory Schneider and is cast as a frequent scapegoat in the city despite that gold medal.

Luongo has shown a great sense of humor via Twitter and took the situation in stride, as Canada.com reports.

“That’s what I enjoy the most, just being part of the Olympics and the Olympic experience,” Luongo said. “Obviously, hockey’s there but if you can’t enjoy the whole experience, you’re not here for the right reasons.”

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For Canadians in particular, Crosby’s golden goal will live on for a long, long time. As you can see, some of the main characters in that exciting game show that it’s far from a final act, however.

The two teams are likely to stage some unforgettable scenes on Friday, too … even if a few characters are missing.

U.S. beats Japan in Olympic baseball qualifier, may still need help

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The U.S. handed Japan its first loss in the Premier12 global Olympic baseball qualifier, at the Tokyo Dome no less, but now the Americans must root for the host nation.

The Americans, with a roster mostly of Double-A and Triple-A players, won 4-3 over a Japanese team that includes some of its domestic league’s biggest stars like two-time Central League MVP Yoshihiro Maru and veteran shortstop Hayato Sakamoto.

Outfielder Jo Adell, MLB Pipeline’s top-ranked prospect on the U.S. team, starred by reaching base four times with a home run.

Japan is already qualified for baseball’s Olympic return as the host nation.

The U.S., meanwhile, has a sense of urgency at Premier12, the first of a possible three tournaments in which it could clinch an Olympic spot.

At Premier12, the top-ranked nation from North and South America qualifies for the Olympics. The tournament is at the super-round stage of the final six teams, and two are from the Americas: the U.S. and Mexico.

The top four nations after each has played five games advance to gold- and bronze-medal games.

Mexico already beat the U.S. and ran its super-round record to 3-0 on Tuesday, clinching a spot in the medal round.

The U.S. moved to 1-2 in the super round on Tuesday and must at least get into the same medal-round game as Mexico to keep its hope of finishing as the top team from the Americas.

Japan could help, since it plays Mexico on Wednesday. If Mexico beats Japan, the Mexicans clinch a spot in the gold-medal game, which would put more pressure on the U.S. to win its last two games (vs. Australia on Wednesday and Chinese Taipei on Friday). Even then, South Korea would get into the gold-medal game if it wins out.

If the U.S. is not the top team from the Americas at Premier12, it can still earn an Olympic berth in March. But then it faces trying to come up with a roster at the end of MLB’s spring training rather than during the offseason. MLB teams may be less inclined to release minor leaguers.

“That’ll be a delicate dance,” U.S. general manager Eric Campbell said before Premier12.

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MORE: AL MVP nixes unretirement for Olympic baseball qualifying

College gymnast dies after practice accident

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — An accomplished gymnast at Southern Connecticut State University has died following a serious spinal cord injury suffered in a training accident.

Melanie Coleman, 20, of Milford, Connecticut, was training Friday at New Era Gymnastics in Hamden when she was injured, said her mother, Susan Coleman.

She was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital and died Sunday.

Coleman was a former All State gymnast at Jonathan Law High School in Milford and was captain of the school’s gymnastics team. She was named a Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association Scholastic All-American this year.

Her former club coach, Tom Alberti, said she attained a level 10, the highest level in the USA Junior Olympics Program.

She was a junior studying nursing, following in the footsteps of her two older sisters, her mother said.

“She’s from a very large, loving family; there’s seven of us, we were the Coleman seven,” Susan Coleman said. “We spent every day together for the past 20 years.”

She volunteered at the gym where her accident occurred.

Her coaches and professors described her as a special young woman who excelled in both the classroom and gym, college President Joe Berolino said in a written statement.

“Our deepest sympathies are extended to her family and friends on this tragic loss,” he said.

People the family has met by traveling to gymnastics events around the country are giving support that is “holding us up,” Coleman’s mother said.

She described her children, which also include two sons older than Melanie, as “inseparable.”

“We’re going to leave an empty space in our photos for her” from now on, Susan Coleman said.