Only in Canada could the Stanley Cup be such an argument sparker. All at once on Monday, the old chalice's arrival for an appearance at Canada House (it was taken to the USA House, too) became the crucible for a Twitter fight over whether it is cool to display the trophy or if it trivializes the efforts of the athletes who aren't millionaire NHL players. The ones whose sweat and toil isn't chronicled year-round by the sports networks, aside from for two weeks every four years, yet who also might be also be hockey fans who wanted a picture with the Cup.
Brian Stemmle, the alpine skier who represented Canada in four Winter Olympics, tossed a match into a pool of gasoline, and it was on.
Stemmle isn't off the mark. No doubt, assuming you go out in public and have conversations with people, you have heard someone say they really don't care how Canada does at the Olympics as it long as it wins the gold medal in hockey. (No need to ask whether that means men's, women's, or each.) That's just being honest, if a little cynical. One academic, Dr. Janice Forsyth, recently told Metro London's David Langford that the "intensive focus that we have on hockey is understandable from a cultural point of view, but I think the media isn’t doing our athletes in our sport system any favours by not giving the other athletes their due attention."
I believe that is where Stemmle, who has been performing commentary during the Olympics since retiring in 1999, was coming from. Other media types who have their ears and eyes open, such as the Toronto Star's Cathal Kelly and Sportsnet's Arash Madani, voiced their support. Many more thought Stemmle was being a buzzkill.
Meantime, American reporters who don't attach such emotional symbolism to the Stanley Cup are a little perplexed by the Twitter kerfuffle.
(That's right. No Canadian-based NHL team has won the Cup in two decades.)
Granted, there was a bit of sanctimony to Stemmle's stand. The Olympics is a sports event; it's not this altruistic athletic Disneyland that the real world must never penetrate. People the world over like seeing the Stanley Cup.
There was a point there. The Olympics is more than men's hockey. It also isn't supposed to be just about medals. It's also about getting out and engaging with the world, or at least the portion of it that has snowy winters and the affluence to send competitors to Sochi.
Canadians taking pics with the championship trophy of their favourite pro sport, well that ain't it. But hey... it's the Cup, even if it's probably a replica?
Tough to deny there is anything more quintessentially Canadian that this Globe & Mail image of Patrick Chan?
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.