HTR in Torino, Part III, La Fine (The End)

The Olympics came to an end and now we’re back to NHL hockey.

Last parts about my Torino coverage and my three medals to hand out. What an awesome ending to the Olympics. Good job for Germany to finish in 1st place for the medal count, and great job by the Americans to recover and take 2nd place.

But, what a beautiful game by the Swedes and the Finns. And… the last Olympic event was won by an Intalian!

Of course I rooted for the team with the Three Crowns, since I am partly Swedish, but I really thought the Finns had it all. And who saved that game? Henrik Lundqvist with a stellar 3rd period performance as he continues to win and prove himself at every level of hockey. Hey Henke…how abou a cup that is silver in Manhattan, eh?

I really enjoyed the tournament and I had fun waking up at 7-am (fun + waking up is a rare formula) and watching the games.

I was very disappointed with Team USA and Team Canada. I think Team USA was poorly managed, and I was not impressed with Peter Laviolette. Team USA…. well… take out “Team” and just leave USA, because they did not play like a team. Team USA could struggle in 2010 Vancouver unless some American players step up in four years. The defense is not a concern, as well as goaltending, but offense lacks the talent.

Team Canada was just dreadful to watch. It was like watching the pre-cap New York Rangers when they played okay but failed to win. Frustrating.

But even this team, poorly managed. Aside from Kris Draper and Shane Doan, the rest of the forwards were 1st line players, 1st line all-stars. It’s not that they did not care, it’s that they looked clueless. Sure, Pat Quinn did not do a good job, but these guys are professionals and should know how to communicate, play as a unit, and at least complete the basics of the game. Team Canada should have had a real line of energetic and agigating forwards, to make up a 3rd checking line, or at least a 4th.

Why was Martin St. Louis on the team anyway? Why not Eric Staal? That’s what people say and I agree, but I don’t think youth is an argument to make for Canada. Team Canada lacked character and the right role players.

It’s amazing, everyone knows Herb Brooks in the hockey world and his famous philosophy of “I am not choosing the best players, I am choosing the right players.” Yet, no one really uses it. Why not? Mickey Goulet of the Italian team went in with a Herb Brooks-like philosophy; knowing his team is not nearly as skilled as all of the other teams. And you know what? Team Italy failed to win, but they showed up each game.

Team Canada failed to win, but they did not show up to each game. Same with Team USA, even if they played very hard against the Finns, it just was not enough. Even the Czechs, very unimpressive 2-3-0 record, even if they won the Bronze, good for them…but quite fortunate too.

The right players….that is what it takes to win it all.

My Three Medals

The Gold Medal (the team that knew how to win it all) Team Sweden.

The Silver Medal (the best overall team)Team Finland.

The Bronze Medal (for bravery) Team Italy.

Am I being biased for that? Maybe, a little. But for real, these guys came out and played. The scoreboard tells a different story, I know, but Italy showed up every game with grit, passion, and never showed any signs of intimidation. And besides, these guys were just seconds away from beating Team Germany and the team that shutout the Canadians, Team Switzerland. Just seconds! Could have finished pretty well with a 2-3-0 record.

I miss watching my team, and I must say I felt some pain because I have not been back to my home country in six years. Yes, I am from Rome and I love Caput Mundi [latin (capital of the world)]. But my way of thinking and my tastes are Northern Italian. I know I definitely do not want to go back to Rome and live there (for personal reasons towards Europe in general), but hey… maybe things may change and I’d like to go to Northern Italy and find a peaceful spot near the mountains. Then again, I am also in love with the temperature here in Delray Beach, Florida…and the weather.

I’ll miss the Azzurri on ice, and hopefully they will come back in 2010. I hope that Mickey Goulet will get more support because he has the right philosophy for Italian hockey, which is North American style hockey.

NHL’ers, Should The Play Olympic Hockey?

My answer is, NO. It’s not a question about amateur vs. professional. Those days were over in the late 1980’s. I do agree with the French nobleman (wow, I agree with a French!) who re-opened the Olympics in the 19th century with the vision and philosophy of no pros. But, that is not the case I will make.

My case is…. these guys signed a contract. That contract is their job to work for the team. They get paid tons of money to do their job, which is to play in the National Hockey League, for their respective teams. When the players go to the Olympics, they become a liability to the owners. They get injured playing hockey, voluntarily, and they cannot fullfill their job completely any longer.

Take GM Nonis from the Canucks. He just lost two defensemen. Bobby Clarke…. Gagne is out for two weeks.

It is unfair to the ownership that pays these guys, to management and coaching staff, to the other teammates, to the fans, and to the insurence company.

The opposition to my case generally says “a country has the right to put forth their best players and players have a right to represent their countries”.

OK

Let’s cut a deal. Simon Gagne out for two weeks due to Olympic hockey? He does not get paid for those two weeks, and not even the insurence company should pay him. If say….Ohlund is out for a month…. he does not get a month’s pay of his salary.

Hey, that’s business. You are not working for me, why should I pay you? That mentality works for me.

Fair enough?

Finally, I’ll give you my last lecture of Italy. For red wines… I’ve tasted the very best, in my opinion. I only drink Italian wines, sometimes I may handle a Californian, a Spanish, or one from Chile…. sometimes Australia. Anyway, this wine you will never find, unless your lucky.

Terra-Sole-Vite. That’s the name of the red wine. It’s actually a mix of grapes, 80% being merlot. It’s the kind of special wine that you keep…that you must eat with a rich dinner…and you must open it for at least 30 minutes, before drinking it. It needs to breathe.

The other wine on my favorite list is Gattinara. This you may find. It comes from the house called Travaglini and its origin? Piemonte! There is a very easy way to recognize this red wine, and that is its bottle. The shape of the bottle is curved inwards on one side. It is a common wine, not that special for wine connoisseurs. Why is it special to me? First of all, it is a very good tasting wine. Second, it goes down smoothly. When I was trying wines at age 17…18…, I liked the wines I tasted, but it felt odd to drink something at room temperature with a “funny” taste. But this one? It went down so smoothly, and that’s what I look first with any alcoholic beverage. It has to go down smoothly.

As for white wines? I am not a fan of them really. rarely do I ever drink white wine. A very common sparkly white wine in Italy is called Prosecco. Some of you may know about this one. I drink it sometimes (with seafood), and I like it way more than champagne because the “bubbles” are much fewer. Man, after a few glasses of champagne…. well…let’s not go that far with the air and the gassy bubbles.

After dinner drinks. Ahhh…. the liquors. Up North we also make Jagermeister, which I love (and to make you believe in that, I asked for a bottle of Jager for Christmas). A similar Italian liquor to the Jager is called Amaro Averna, which comes from Sicily and is made with herbs. Then there are le grappe (the grappas). I love these. Room temperature or cold, it does not matter. I love them. To do grappa you take the seeds and the skins from the grapes after the wine is made. They they put it in a process where it is fermented and distilled. Alcohol level is pretty strong at around 43%. They use prosecco grapes, barolo grapes (barolo is another excellent red wine by the way), and moscato grapes which tend to be sweeter.

My favorite of all! Limoncello. This is the best! If you like lemon, this is the real deal. I have no idea how it is made, but does it really matter? You keep this in the freezer and it’s pretty strong in taste, but it is so good.

By the way, for you underage kids….don’t try this stuff alone or just with friends. These are things to try with family. I am not a supporter of the drinking age law, but everything that I tasted….was with family. I’m a 23 year old explaining and telling you about Italian drinks and how some are made, where they are from. Why? I learned with family. If I just tested these things without knowing, I’d be nothing but an ignorant. If your parents like these kinds of things, especially if they are Italian blooded, then tell them about it, make them get the things, and try it.

Sweet tooth, anyone?

Ok, I am a picky person for sweets. I am not crazy over them, I don’t eat them everyday. But the good ones? Oh yeah. So let me tell you about Il Segreto della Dama. There are different versions of this, but I’ll tell you the simplest one…which I could make myself.

This is basically a big chocolate sausage. You need four to five (depends how many will eat it) bars of chocolate. Not Hershey’s, not Nestle’s…but real chocolate. I can’t find any real good Italian ones because you need the real dark…bitter chocolate bars. So, I get Lindt. Three dark ones, and one milk chocolate to add some sweetness. A good chunk of butter, unsalted of course. And, you melt them all together. While it is melting, get cookies and you break each cookie into pieaces (not too small). Add the pieces in there and when it is melted (don’t get it to boil).

Let it sit for a little bit to the point where it is still very warm but not to the point where your hands burn. Put it on a cutter (wood/plastic) and roll it till it becomes a sausage-like form.

And BAM! Put it in the fridge. If you have a sweet tooth…. you’ll do this. You can look it up on the internet, of course, but that’s a simple way to do it for us guys who are clueless on measurements of butter….and whatever. We just want to eat well.

There is some bad news for me though. Lent is coming up and it means 40 days without something that you have to give. Well, for two weeks…I drank, I ate… and drank….. but all for fun and celebrating the great Olympic games. That means, however, I give up alcohol for 40 days.

I know, I am totally nuts…

And finally….. my Italian Anthem! This link shows you the history of my Italian flag, which is interesting with the many changes.

http://www.tricolore.it/storia.htm

And this is my anthem translated into English. I love these words.

Italian brothers,

Italy has arisen,

With Scipio’s helmet

binding her head.

Where is Victory?

Let her bow down,

For God has made her

The slave of Rome.

Let us gather in legions,

Ready to die!

Italy has called! Fratelli d’Italia

——————————————————————————–

We for centuries

Have been downtrodden and derided,

Because we are not a people,

Because we are divided.

Let one flag, one hope

Bring us together;

The hour has struck

For us to join forces.

Let us gather in legions,

Ready to die!

Italy has called! Noi siamo da secoli

——————————————————————————–

Let us unite and love one another;

For union and love

Reveal to peoples

The way of the Lord

Let us swear to free

Our native soil;

If we are united under God,

Who can conquer us?

Let us gather in legions,

Ready to die!

Italy has called! Uniamoci, amiamoci;

——————————————————————————–

From the Alps to Sicily,

Everywhere it is Legnano;

Every man has the heart

and hand of Ferruccio.

The children of Italy

Are all called Balilla;

Every trumpet blast

Sounds the (Sicilian) Vespers.

Let us gather in legions,

Ready to die!

Italy has called!

——————————————————————————–

Mercenary swords

Are feeble reeds,

And the Austrian eagle

Has lost his plumes.

This eagle that drunk the blood

of Italy and Poland,

together with the Cossack,

But this has burned his gut.

Let us gather in legions,

Ready to die!

Italy has called!


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