Now, back to the hockey that matters

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Chicago Tribune sports columnist Steve Rosenbloom discusses the gold-medal win of the Canadian Olympic hockey team and how the Blackhawks' Olympians need to put their focus back on winning another Stanley Cup.

Canada came home with the hockey gold medal.

The 10 Blackhawks on five Olympic teams just came home.

That’s what matters.

Congratulations, Canada. You earned it. Your pros are the best in the world. You keep telling us that it’s your game, and you keep proving it. Uncle Sam cries “Uncle.’'

Canada has won two gold medals in a row and three of the last four, the latest coming Sunday halfway around the world, something that hadn’t happened when North American pros left North America.

But here’s the deal: The only metal that means something around here is silver and the only prize we care about holds beverages.

Time to get back to that. Time to get back to the continent. Time to get back to winning the conference for now and the big prize later.

Nyet, Olympics. Da, Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Blackhawks got lucky. They had six players in the gold medal game and one in the bronze game, and it appears all seven survived, give or take Patrick Kane’s ego.

The Hawks got lucky because they didn’t have a John Tavares. Nobody suffered a season-ending knee injury. That was all that mattered to me when the NHL foolishly closed shop and went to Russia for some shinny.

More importantly, that is the only reason the NHL needs to end this silly middle-of the-season buzzkill at future Olympics.

I’ll admit I liked the flow and action in the Olympics more than I expected, but I like the NHL more, and I wish the NHL felt the same way.

The U.S. tried to play NHL hockey on the big ice and nearly got away with it. Then the Americans found out how the big boys play. The U.S. hasn’t scored a goal since Wednesday, and the proper response now is “So what?’’

Jonathan Toews scored Canada’s first goal in the biggest game of the event. The Hawks captain showed why he’s one of the best players in the world -- one of the best players in the best hockey country.

He also showed why he’s one of the best captains in the best league, the only captain to raise the Stanley Cup twice in the last four season, the only one who can repeat that this June, and that’s what matters now.

Truth is, that’s what mattered before we all held our breath waiting for half the Hawks to return as healthy as they left.

It appears they did, and now it’s city, not country. Toews, Kane, the two other Canadians, the three Swedes, the two Slovaks and and the Czech can come back to Chicago and do something useful, like beat St. Louis.

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