To heck with politics! Let’s talk hockey, a subject on which our physically unimposing prime minister is nevertheless supposedly an expert, which gives Alberta Diary all the political angle it needs on which to hang its colourful polyethylene hat.
Today’s topic is what it’s going to take for our Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team to emerge triumphant in a matchup with the unexpectedly formidable Finns.
Now that the plucky Finns have humbled the mighty Russians, this has become a matter of vital national importance to us Canadians, don’t you agree?
I mean, seriously people, with the indomitable Russian hockey machine now dominated by the Suomi squad, I think we can all agree that what happens next to our own Canadian pucksters is not just a matter of our elemental national self interest, but our equally important national medal count and the boundless commercial spinoffs it promises.
This assumes, of course that our slow-starting Canucks (not to be confused with the Vancouver grass-hockey team of the same name) can somehow squeeze past the powerful American crew after barely overcoming the Latvians – who, unlike the Finns, can’t even claim to speak a Finno-Ugric language!
Likewise, the Finns will have to manage not to choke on the Swedes, themselves no slouches in the difficult-for-English-speakers-to-pronounce-language league. If you want to know when all this stuff is going to happen, you’ll have to look it up on one of those sports websites.
The vital interests of the Canadian State being at stake, I have no doubt the Communications Security Establishment Canada and other Canadian organs of state security are busily monitoring the pattern of Angry Bird play in the passenger lounge at Helsinki-Vantaan lentoasema right this minute! As well they should, although it’s going to be hard for them to find a translator.
So here’s the deal with the Finns: they’re certain to try to psych our guys with Sisu.
What’s Sisu, you ask? Great question!
This is where Finnish eyes light up. It’s the indomitable spirit of the Finnish people – plus, it’s more. It’s sort of a secret combination of determination, bravery, and resilience … only, you know, in the winter, when it’s really freakin’ cold! (It’s also a truck, but never mind that.) Right now, I’ll bet you dimes to Tim Horton’s doughnuts it’s also the subject of a lengthy secret memo from the Winter Sports Attaché at the Canadian Embassy in Helsinki.
It is also, according to the Wikipedia, “a central part of the country´s culture and collective discourse.” This is true. Indeed, it is something your typical Finn just won’t stop discoursing about.
And during this discourse, most Finns will assert, passionately, that Sisu can’t be translated, especially into English. “The word is widely considered to lack a proper translation into any other language,” the Wikipedia explains with a proper Nordic sniff. (Don’t, by the way, ever make the mistake of calling Finland a Scandinavian country. This never goes over very well.)
In other words, the Finnish team has Sisu, the Canadian team doesn’t, they don’t have time to learn it, and it can’t be explained to them – so it would sound as if our guys are done for.
This of course is baloney, and I’m here to boost Canadian spirits by explaining why. And, no, I don’t speak Finnish – it’s got 51 declensions, for crying out loud, and I’m not making that up. But I do know what the lure of Vaaksy is! (Finnish crossword clue.)
So here’s the real deal, Canadians: there is a perfectly good English language word for Sisu … and it’s Grit.
Readers will now probably have a pretty good idea where this is heading, and why it could precipitate a political crisis in this country.
Would our prime minister, a Tory, try to get in the way of a Canadian hockey gold medal in Sochi because what it’s going to take for our guys to overcome Sisu is Grit, which, you know, also happens to be headlinese for another political party, the one headed once again by … a Trudeau?
If you don’t think this is a real possibility, you obviously just don’t understand Stephen Harper!
I could go on with this, but really, I reckon I’ve stretched this sucker about as far as it’ll go.
Anyway, if our Canadians always start slow, we can take comfort in the knowledge the Finns have a bad habit of choking – as any Finn will confess if they get about halfway through a bottle of Koskenkorva. It’s why they have the Cinderella team of international hockey and why, well, not to be braggy about it, we don’t.
But it’s still going to take Grit to beat them – and Prime Minister Harper’s Tories had better remember that!
Got that? Kiitos.