Reuters - Mon, 01 Mar 23:43:00 2010
It is time for Canadians to gloat and Americans to pay up on an Olympic men's hockey final that was made to order for friendly betting and good-natured banter on both sides of the border.
After Canada's exciting overtime 3-2 victory on Sunday, American fans are not only nursing their wounded pride. Many of them are also settling the score by sending cases of beer to colleagues, or donning Canadian hockey jerseys at work.
"If a friend of mine is keeping up his end of the bet, he should be wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey to work today, which is embarrassing on several fronts," Conor Bill, managing director at Mt. Auburn Capital, in Toronto, said of his cross-border wager with a friend at a New York-based brokerage.
The Leafs, one of the weakest teams in the National Hockey League and a team with a history of failure, are a running joke in hockey-crazed Toronto.
But if the table had been turned, Sunday's final could have proved nearly unbearable for Bill, a long-time hockey fan.
"If (Canada) lost he was going to make me wear a Team USA shirt, and the worst part of it was that I would have to go out and buy it. I would have actually had to pay for it!" said Bill.
US fans may be forgiven for a false sense of confidence. Their team had a relatively easy road to the final, including an upset victory over Canada earlier in the Games. But Sidney Crosby's clinching goal for Canada in overtime is forcing them to pay up and shut up.
Americans working for Canadian firms in the United States were reminded of the outcome on Monday.
"If we had to lose to someone, I'm glad we did it to the Canadians. It was almost like losing a game to a brother," said Andy Busch, chief forex strategist for Canada's BMO Capital Markets in Chicago.
"Obviously we had some Canadians at the desks here this morning displaying a certain pride, with 'friendly' reminders of their superiority in the game. But overall, everybody's being a good sport about it. It was all great fun."
Even Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and US President Barack Obama got into the spirit.
The only problem was that they messed up the terms of their bet, with both offices issuing media statements that the winner had to buy the beer rather than the loser.
In the end, both agreed that the loser would buy, so Obama owes Harper a case of Molson Canadian. Had the Americans won, Harper would have had to buy Obama a case of Pennsylvanian-made Yuengling beer.
Canadians will also be watching US news channels closely as White House press secretary Robert Gibbs must a wear Team Canada jersey during his daily on-camera briefing after losing a bet with his Canadian counterpart.
But proving that Canadians are gracious in victory, David MacDougall, a director at Toronto-based investment firm MacDougall, MacDougall and MacTier in Toronto, will send a three-litre bottle of Molson Canadian to his sister in Montana for her birthday as a quiet reminder of who claimed hockey supremacy.
Pressurized bottles of the same brew were cracked open by Canadian gold medal winners at the Games.
"It's a great rivalry, but I have to be careful not to gloat because that always comes back to haunt you," said MacDougall. "How do you do it with some kind of style?"