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National Post Sports

Remember that miserable Canadian winter we all suffered through, not so long ago? When watching the Winter Olympics was just about the only way to stay warm or, rather, feel warm and fuzzy about something, specifically — our athletes — and their medal haul, on the slopes, around the speed skating oval and in the hockey arena in Sochi?

Canada did what Canada does in winter sports, elbowing its way to the podium, waving the maple leaf with glee and giving us Hosers at home some new national heroes to celebrate. First among them, arguably, was Marie-Philip Poulin, a shy, polite, perfectly friendly French-Canadian, when not dressed in her hockey gear. On the ice Poulin was Clutch. She is an American Killer, and a scorer of two gold-medal sealing goals in Sochi — this after she scored the winning goal to beat the States in Vancouver four years before.

“Sidney Crosby is the best player in the world, in my opinion,” Louise Warren, Poulin’s college roommate at Boston University said after watching her pal dispatch of the U.S. “But I 100 per cent believe that [Poulin] is the best women’s hockey player in the world.”

A Canadian woman, and she is the best in the world. Poulin’s success in February stirred the patriotic spirit. But there are other rustlings out there. Canadian women are on the move. It is their time and, in England, at Wimbledon, it is Eugenie Bouchard’s time. (Photos: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images, Clive Brunskill/Getty Images, Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Canada’s Andrew Wiggins of Kansas was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft on Thursday night.The Cavs went for a freshman from Vaughan, Ont., to open the draft for the second straight year and hope Wiggins works out better than Anthony Bennett of Brampton, Ont.Bennett was injured last summer, came into the season out of shape and made no impact, one of the reasons the Cavs were back in this spot again.But Wiggins seems a much more ready product after averaging a Kansas freshman-record 17.1 points. He might have ended up as the top pick anyway, but became the best option for the Cavs when Jayhawks teammate Joel Embiid suffered a stress fracture in his right foot shortly before the draft.“A thousand thoughts are going through my head right now,” Wiggins said. “It’s a dream come true. (Photo: Jason DeCrow/The Associated Press)

Canada’s Andrew Wiggins of Kansas was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft on Thursday night.

The Cavs went for a freshman from Vaughan, Ont., to open the draft for the second straight year and hope Wiggins works out better than Anthony Bennett of Brampton, Ont.

Bennett was injured last summer, came into the season out of shape and made no impact, one of the reasons the Cavs were back in this spot again.

But Wiggins seems a much more ready product after averaging a Kansas freshman-record 17.1 points. He might have ended up as the top pick anyway, but became the best option for the Cavs when Jayhawks teammate Joel Embiid suffered a stress fracture in his right foot shortly before the draft.

“A thousand thoughts are going through my head right now,” Wiggins said. “It’s a dream come true. (Photo: Jason DeCrow/The Associated Press)

'This is a big f—-ing day': He’s the ultimate button-down, blue-suited mayor. But put Eric Garcetti in a hockey jersey and there’s no telling what he might do.On Monday, he let fly with the F-word in front of millions of people as he led his city in celebration of the Los Angeles Kings’ second Stanley Cup championship in three years. (Pictured: Kings goalie Jonathan Quick; photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

'This is a big f—-ing day': He’s the ultimate button-down, blue-suited mayor. But put Eric Garcetti in a hockey jersey and there’s no telling what he might do.

On Monday, he let fly with the F-word in front of millions of people as he led his city in celebration of the Los Angeles Kings’ second Stanley Cup championship in three years. (Pictured: Kings goalie Jonathan Quick; photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Kings were this close to tying the New York Rangers late in the third period of Game 4.Henrik Lundqvist, who faced 41 shots, including a lopsided third period in which the Kings outshot the home side 15-1, was both brilliant and incredibly lucky — yes, there’s that word again — in erecting a wall that just barely held, allowing the New York Rangers a 2-1 victory that let them live to see another day in the Stanley Cup final.Read the story here. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Kings were this close to tying the New York Rangers late in the third period of Game 4.

Henrik Lundqvist, who faced 41 shots, including a lopsided third period in which the Kings outshot the home side 15-1, was both brilliant and incredibly lucky — yes, there’s that word again — in erecting a wall that just barely held, allowing the New York Rangers a 2-1 victory that let them live to see another day in the Stanley Cup final.

Read the story here. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

One game into the New York-Los Angeles Stanley Cup final, we’ve already had plenty of celebrity sightings. Here are Will Ferrell and Larry David at Game 1 between the Rangers and Kings at the Staples Center. The Kings won 3-2 in overtime. (Photos by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)

'It hurts more when you're close': Max Pacioretty was sitting with his hands on his thighs in a quiet corner of a quiet dressing room. Discarded balls of hockey tape were on both sides of where he sat, a used white towel was crumpled on a seat nearby, speckled with someone’s blood.

Max Pacioretty was sitting with his hands on his thighs in a quiet corner of a quiet dressing room. Discarded balls of hockey tape were on both sides of where he sat, a used white towel was crumpled on a seat nearby, speckled with someone’s blood.

“It hurts,” said Canadiens coach Michel Therrien. “And it hurts more when you’re close.” (Photos: Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press, Frank Franklin II/The Associated Press)

The Russian national hockey team’s Alex Ovechkin waves to supporters as the team drives through the centre of Moscow after winning the 2014 IIHF World Hockey Championship in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 27, 2014. (Photo: Denis Tyrin/The Associated Press)

The Russian national hockey team’s Alex Ovechkin waves to supporters as the team drives through the centre of Moscow after winning the 2014 IIHF World Hockey Championship in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 27, 2014. (Photo: Denis Tyrin/The Associated Press)

In the basement of her home in small-town Saskatchewan, Darlene Tokarski would roll up a pair of socks — usually a pair of her husband’s sturdy work socks — and fire away at her young son. He demanded that she play, and that he be the goaltender in a game they came to call “sockball.”
It was all Dustin Tokarski wanted to do.
“I could get him to do anything for sockball,” Darlene said on Friday. “Clean his room. Rake leaves. Do this. Do that. It was, ‘well, as soon as you do this, we’ll play sockball.’ And it was done.’ ”
Sockball evolved into hockey, and hockey evolved into an obsession, one that has carried him through a career marked by international victories, professional disappointment and, within the last week, a burst of stardom and opportunity. The sockball veteran is making a name for himself in the National Hockey League playoffs.
(Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images)

In the basement of her home in small-town Saskatchewan, Darlene Tokarski would roll up a pair of socks — usually a pair of her husband’s sturdy work socks — and fire away at her young son. He demanded that she play, and that he be the goaltender in a game they came to call “sockball.”

It was all Dustin Tokarski wanted to do.

“I could get him to do anything for sockball,” Darlene said on Friday. “Clean his room. Rake leaves. Do this. Do that. It was, ‘well, as soon as you do this, we’ll play sockball.’ And it was done.’ ”

Sockball evolved into hockey, and hockey evolved into an obsession, one that has carried him through a career marked by international victories, professional disappointment and, within the last week, a burst of stardom and opportunity. The sockball veteran is making a name for himself in the National Hockey League playoffs.

(Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images)

Derek Stepan played through a broken jaw on Thursday night, logging more than 17 minutes of ice time despite suffering the injury on a late and dangerous hit in the first period, according to his coach.Alain Vigneault said the 23-year-old was undergoing surgery on Friday, and that the team did not know he had broken his jaw until after the game. It is not known if Stepan will be available to play again in the Eastern Conference final, with Vigneault saying “we’ll have an idea of the time frame tomorrow.”Stepan absorbed a hard, high hit from Montreal Canadiens forward Brandon Prust in the first period of Game 3. He left the game, but returned a few minutes later.Prust was not penalized on the play, but has a phone hearing scheduled with the NHL on Friday afternoon. The revelation of Stepan’s injury will likely play a role in the severity of any supplementary discipline he might receive. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Derek Stepan played through a broken jaw on Thursday night, logging more than 17 minutes of ice time despite suffering the injury on a late and dangerous hit in the first period, according to his coach.

Alain Vigneault said the 23-year-old was undergoing surgery on Friday, and that the team did not know he had broken his jaw until after the game. It is not known if Stepan will be available to play again in the Eastern Conference final, with Vigneault saying “we’ll have an idea of the time frame tomorrow.”

Stepan absorbed a hard, high hit from Montreal Canadiens forward Brandon Prust in the first period of Game 3. He left the game, but returned a few minutes later.

Prust was not penalized on the play, but has a phone hearing scheduled with the NHL on Friday afternoon. The revelation of Stepan’s injury will likely play a role in the severity of any supplementary discipline he might receive. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Rémi Bourget wore the bear over his shoulder, like a shawl, until he realized it might not have been a good idea. The Montreal lawyer, who is an enthusiastic fan of the Canadiens, believed the bear was still a powerful symbol, but decided it was best to tuck it under the arena seats for the rest of the series, just to be safe.“Of course, sometimes it gets dirty down there, with people spilling their beer or their Coke,” Bourget said on Thursday. “And now it’s gone through a seven-game series, so like everyone, it’s not in as good a shape as it was.”Over the course of that seven-game series with the Boston Bruins, the bearskin Bourget and a group of his friends bought online became a minor celebrity. It travelled to Boston for Game 2, and it was in the Bell Centre for all three games in Montreal, put to use as a beacon for fans nervous about playing the big, bad Bruins.“It was important for us to show that we were not afraid of the bear, we were not afraid of poking the bear,” Bourget said. “There’s this expression in French … meaning you don’t sell the bearskin before you’ve killed it.” (Photo courtesy of Rémi Bourget)

Rémi Bourget wore the bear over his shoulder, like a shawl, until he realized it might not have been a good idea. The Montreal lawyer, who is an enthusiastic fan of the Canadiens, believed the bear was still a powerful symbol, but decided it was best to tuck it under the arena seats for the rest of the series, just to be safe.

“Of course, sometimes it gets dirty down there, with people spilling their beer or their Coke,” Bourget said on Thursday. “And now it’s gone through a seven-game series, so like everyone, it’s not in as good a shape as it was.”

Over the course of that seven-game series with the Boston Bruins, the bearskin Bourget and a group of his friends bought online became a minor celebrity. It travelled to Boston for Game 2, and it was in the Bell Centre for all three games in Montreal, put to use as a beacon for fans nervous about playing the big, bad Bruins.

“It was important for us to show that we were not afraid of the bear, we were not afraid of poking the bear,” Bourget said. “There’s this expression in French … meaning you don’t sell the bearskin before you’ve killed it.” (Photo courtesy of Rémi Bourget)