Hartnell, Flyers watched U.S.-Canada game at Old City bar
In Sochi, the stage was set for two North American squads far from home to settle the score on the ice. Members of the American and Canadaian men’s hockey teams weren’t Dallas Stars or Los Angeles Kings Firday afternoon, but vessels for their nation’s pride.
The Canadian women had already won their gold, and left their male counterparts a note of encouragement. Now, it was time for Sidney Crosby and company to do that thing they do that everyone hates: win.
On the other side of the planet, in a quiet bar on a dreary day, eight Flyers - including Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Jake Voracek, and Ray Emery - huddled together to watch teammates and friends put the hopes of day-drinkers and work-skippers on their backs.
In the end, it was Canada advancing to the gold-medal game, making many of the Flyers happy.
“It wasn’t the most exciting game,” Hartnell admitted. “There were chances back and forth. USA played really good early, but Canada did a really good job hanging on.”
With so many NHLers involved, but conspicuously no Flyers, the team decided they’d head out and watch the game together.
When former Flyer Jeff Carter was stopped short on a two-on-one for Canada, much of the bar cheered louder than they had. Carter's former teammates could only exchange glances and chuckle.
“We had a workout at practice this morning, but we practiced a little earlier so we could get together and watch the game,” said Hartnell. “This is what it’s all about, playing for your country. We’ve got a few different countries involved in our team here we all got together, had a beer, had lunch, and watched it.”
Canada took a 1-0 lead in the second period, when Jamie Benn redirected the puck past Jonathan Quick, and that was the lead Canada would ride to the final horn. Now, they’ll face Sweden for the chance to win back-to-back gold medals.
At Mac's Tavern in Old City, it was an interesting dynamic.
Just a few blocks from where the Declaration of Independence was signed, in America’s birthplace, were a handful of Canadians quietly rooting for their brethren, likely making them the only fans in town who could root against America without getting hassled.
“Probably,” Hartnell agreed. “There were about 50 other people in here cheering for the U.S. But I know a lot of guys from both sides, north and south of the border. You cheer for individuals, but being from Canada, that’s where my heart is. They fought hard to win, everyone blocked shots, laying their body on the line. Hopefully they can do it again for one more game.”