USA v Canada: No Such Thing as 'Only' an Exhibition

Published on 9-Sep-2016 by Alan Adamsson

NHL    NHL Daily Update

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USA v Canada: No Such Thing as 'Only' an Exhibition

Maybe they're talking about building a wall on the wrong border.

When Gary Bettman announced a new international hockey tournament to be played in the pre-season -- complete with two throw-together teams -- all but hard-core fans greeted it with a shrug.

That attitude ended when rivals began putting on their nations' sweaters.

And who else but Ryan Kesler would be the shot-disturber to take the proceedings to a familiar level?

Team USA -- and Columbus Blue Jackets -- coach John Tortorella must be pinching himself to have the Anaheim Ducks' Kesler to provide the ... um ... grit that Old Time Hockey so reveres.

Torts even went all 'Murica as a build up to the World Cup of Hockey. Dude said he wouldn't tolerate anything but standing at attention when the Star Spangled Banner is played.

As to the Canadians, they're always alert when it's their turn, because with them, you just never know:

In the wake of Tortorella's comments and as the only black player on Team USA, Dustin Byfuglien must've been taking a long look around after that declaration. But he's also Torts' sorta dude -- ie- no shrinking violet -- and he did his share of mixing it up in this one, too.

But it was Kesler who had everyone cringing, especially the Montréal Canadiens' front office.

It's a hint of things to come. There's a reason why Torts stocked up on the bruisers and left the weasels home.

Incidentally, this was a pre-tourney exhibition, and every now and then, the teams took time out to score:

USA 4, Canada 2, for the record, which doesn't count.

As if.

And interest in the World Cup of Hockey just rose by more than a few degrees.