You knew which goal was coming, of course. There really wasn't going to be any doubt.‡
This is from the 2002 Winter Olympics. Sweden is an international powerhouse, one of the favorites to win the gold medal. Belarus isn’t in its league and should have no chance at even staying competitive — we’re talking Miracle on Ice territory here. But the two teams are tied late in the third, and this goal with two minutes left ends up being the winner in one of the greatest upsets in hockey history.
Sorry, Tommy. I’m pretty sure this holds up as the worst goal of all time.In no way shape or form am I doubting the inclusion of this goal at the end of the post as the worst in (modern, available for viewing) NHL history. It was brutal, and definitely is the defining moment in Salo's career; which is a shame since Salo was actually a high-quality goaltender. In the wake of losing Curtis Joseph to the Leafs, Salo was a bright spot in that late 90s-early 00s Oilers team that always either lost to Dallas in the first round or joined Dallas in playing golf and missing the postseason altogether. Along with underrated D-men like Niinimaa and Jason Smith, Salo is one of the reasons that in the 2001-2002 season the Edmonton Oilers had the second-best goals-against in the league with 182. (A club record)
What I am disagreeing with is this bit of "conventional wisdom" that is also part of the Grantland article:
Salo never really recovered — his NHL numbers plummeted and he was out of the league within two years.Salo recovered from this event perfectly fine: he had a .925 SV% in the 16 games he played after the Olympic break (his SV% for the whole season was only .913, the league average for 20+ game 'tenders was .907 with Salo 14th spot on the list). The second part of the statement, that Salo was run out of the league within two years, is correct of course. In the next season (2002-2003), Tommy Salo was fifty-seventh in SV% amoung 20+ game goaltenders with a mediocre .899. This was behind Kevin Weekes, Garth Snow, and even Jean-Sebastien
Anyways, yes Tommy Salo was out of the league within two years of The Goal. But he certainly wasn't "haunted by it" upon his return. The immediate post-Olympic batch of games didn't phase Salo in the slightest. Yet months later the spectre of the goal would start to hurt him? I know that's the defining official consensus.
Unfortunately, a summer filled with endless shots at Salo for his Olympic mishap, finally took its toll. As mentioned earlier, Tommy was a proud guy and the constant bashing he and his family received were simply too much for him to deal with. When he returned to Edmonton for the '02-'03 season, it was clear he wasn't the same guy."The spark was gone" is an accurate way of phrasing the Tommy Salo who suited up for the Oilers on the evening of October 10th 2002 as they hosted the Philadelphia Flyers, but it had nothing to do with the goal scored 232 days earlier.
He went from being a model of consistency, to a guy that you could either be outstanding or awful, on any given night. While he would never be mistaken for a rah-rah type of a player, he always appeared to enjoy playing the game and be around his teammates. That was no longer the case. The spark was gone.
Instead, it had something do to with an incident that most Oilers fans know about, a few dare write about, that the media prided itself on knowing about but never mentioning...that Oilers forward Mike Comrie slept with Tommy Salo's wife. And I know, I know, this is the part where you're supposed to get up in arms denying it like Lyle Richardson from Spector's Hockey did on the Hockey Rants blog:
Ah, the good old "player sleeps with teammate/coach's wife" story. Perhaps the biggest urban myth in hockey. It always seems to pop up whenever a player is having either on-ice troubles or problems with management.It's always possible, of course, that these rumours are false. In Alberta politics, for example, Alison Redford was often rumoured to be sleeping with her pudgy executive assistant Brad Stables (which would explain why she kept hauling him around the planet at taxpayer expense). Similarly, Danielle Smith suddenly started being rumoured to be sleeping with Jim Prentice about the time this happened. Of course, just because there are rumours doesn't mean they are false either: as one commenter noted, every office has at least one story of a romance breaking up a marriage. It's impossible to say which is higher: false rumours or truth nobody hears about.
However, when it comes to the Comrie-Salo affair rumours, there are more than a few reasons to believe it's authenticity, including an example that you will only find on Third Edge of the Sword:
- A few years ago, when blogging was kicking up its steam, the mainstream sports media (particularly in Edmonton) started talking about the benefits of their close-knit behind the scenes action. One of the big Edmonton examples was that after Tommy Salo left everybody and their dog knew that he was battling "personal issues" that the media didn't bother mentioning a single word about. If it was The Goal, they'd have mentioned it. They didn't. So something bad personally happened to Tommy Salo to cause these issues.
- Mike Comrie, as we all know, went on to marry Hilary Duff. They've since had a kid together, and even tried to secretly abscond to Jasper for New Year's Eve together by flying a private jet into Edson instead of Edmonton. This same Mike Comrie, able to bang one of the hottest stars on the planet...except that they are in an on-again, off-again separation over the past year. Why have they broken up? Well, we cannot rule out Mike Comrie again dipping his pen in somebody else's blonde pussy. Mutt Lang cheated on Shania Twain, let's remember.
- Another key thing to note is that the Mike Comrie sleeping with Tommy Salo's wife rumours were very very very very internally consistent. Unlike the Pronger rumours which saw him sleeping with TV morning hosts, underage girls, and a Dante's waitress, the Comrie rumours were all the same: Comrie banged Salo's wife. These rumours were a hot commodity in Edmonton in the summer of 2002, and certainly have the pedigree of a rumour starting with a giant kernel of truth.
- Finally, and let me remind you that this is a Third Edge of the Sword exclusive: Tommy Salo and I have a little something in common. In the early 2000s, we both had to deal with Mike Comrie screwing our woman right from under us. (We also had to endure being in a room with the guy after learning about it). So I already know something which lends extra credence to the Comrie-Salo rumours: Comrie was already fucking anything that moved regardless of who else was laying claim to it by the summer of 2002. Comrie did to Tommy Salo the same thing he did to me. Salo was devastated, his family moved back to Sweden, and he never did recover his NHL-caliber form as a goaltender.
I just slapped my bitch and moved on. Then again, I didn't lose out on an Olympic gold medal that same year...