After Team USA’s 2-0 win against Canada in the gold medal game at the IIHF Junior World Championship 2021 on Tuesday, cameras caught the Americans who brought out a large blue can with a Hockey Canada logo and posed with it.
Twitter went insane immediately after TSN’s Ryan Rishaug posted the picture and video, calling it classless and disrespectful.
But it wasn’t really a trash can. It was a barrel. Head coach Nate Leaman explained the barrel before answering questions at his post-game press conference.
“It’s a story when I was an assistant coach [with USA Hockey at world juniors] in 2007, [head coach] that Ron brought Ralston to our team. [The story is] to cross over the heart of the Sahara; They crossed a 500 mile long compound where more than 1,300 people had died and the only way to traverse this part of the Sahara Desert was to clear out barrels so you could only see one barrel was that next barrel on the horizon.
“I shared the story with the guys before the tournament and let them know that we’re not going to talk about the gold medal. We’re just talking about one barrel at a time. … It’s just great. It was a great way to do this to survive tough tournaments: only driving one barrel at a time, sticking to it and not surpassing ourselves.
“We had a barrel in the locker room and on the barrel was the next team we were playing against and that’s all the guys should be focusing on: this is the next barrel, this is how we cross the desert.
“We took a selfie in the locker room around the barrel after every win and the guys loved it and as if they couldn’t wait for the selfies. With each of our victories we have our team around the barrel in the locker room [caught up in the emotion] of the celebration and they wanted to get the keg on the ice.
“No disrespect to anyone, especially Canada, who played a great game today and obviously had a great team. It’s not disrespectful to them. I’m sure every team had something in the tournament that they rallied about, and ours was the barrel. “
Leaman also went to Twitter to clear the barrel.
Just to be transparent. After the game it was a barrel on the ice with our team. It was a motivation for our team to play the tournament one game after the other. I’m sure every team had some motivation. The barrel was ours. No disrespect to Canada which is a great team.
– Nate Leaman (@CoachLeaman) January 6, 2021