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Disillusioned by southern hospitality

Toronto Star writer Cathal Kelly wrote this in response to Donn Esmonde's column that appeared Sunday.

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It's a week after Canada left, and Buffalo is only now feeling safe enough to begin unboarding the windows and crawling out of the basement.

That's the impression left in an out-of-left-field attack on Canadian honor by a columnist at The Buffalo News.

In purple tones, the piece -- "Disillusioned by Northern Neighbors" -- paints Canadian fans as bunch of boozed-up hooligans who streamed over the border like the Visigoths advancing on Rome.

Among the damning criticisms: We don't wait to turn right on red; we say "eh"; we like to take a drink; the Rogers Centre is ugly; we tip only two bucks on a $25 bar tab; someone punched someone else at a game.

Oh, Buffalo. We rescued your tournament from local apathy and crushing irrelevance, and this is the thanks we get?

A visiting Swedish writer likened the city to something out of "28 Days Later" (minus all the zombies).

One of your own players -- Ducks prospect and Team USA forward Emerson Etem -- called Buffalo a "ghost town" and "the worst city ever."

And you're angry at us? Seriously?

What'd we do to get you so hysterical?

It is true that we showed up, injected hundreds of thousands of muscular Canadian dollars into your threadbare economy and rooted for our team. We'll admit that.

We're sorry. That was pretty awful.

There might have been a drunken incident or six. That's possible. Since the end zone seats at a Bills home game generally resemble a Hieronymous Bosch painting, we thought you embraced that sort of high-spirited fun. That was foolish of us.

Are you hurt? Show us where it hurts. Because we'd like to kick it all better.

The most grating thing about the ad hominem broadside is not that Buffalo (or, at least, one writer from Buffalo and a couple of anonymous bartenders) doesn't like us any more.

It's that we're stood up beside the groaning American stereotype of Canadians and then judged unworthy by comparison.

"I think we saw a different side of the normally placid, polite, patient, good neighbors we thought we knew," The News' Donn Esmonde writes, possibly while shorting out the keyboard with his bitter tears.

Yes (sigh) that's us. Canada -- the world's agreeable doormat. I urge Americans who labor under this delusion to test its truth in a bar in Rimouski or Saint John or Hamilton. Remember, our medical care is universal. Our dentistry is not. So bring cash.

If any good can come out of this, it's the death of the idea of the Polite Canadian in at least one American city.

For going on a century, we've put up with your jingoism and your insularity and your shocking ignorance of the world outside your borders. Yes, you won the Cold War. Yes, your economy is the foundation for our own. We can only say "thank you" so many times.

It's become globally fashionable to kick uppity Canada lately. We took a hellacious amount of stick during the Vancouver Olympics for our Own the Podium initiative. Some people -- notably Brits, Russians and a few cranky Americans -- were put out that we got excited when we won. If that's a problem, then sadly, it's your problem.

We've all taken a vote up here, and we've decided that, in one sphere of life at least, we're not going to play nice anymore. That's hockey.

Twelve years ago, after missing a pair of hockey golds in Nagano, we were in the midst of a cringingly Canadian crisis of confidence. What changed?

The players didn't get any better. The players have always been the world's best.

The attitude changed. We collectively decided that while there is no shame in finishing second, it should not be an objective. This is Canada. We own this game.

We carry that feeling around with us now, like the statement of fact that it is.

Maybe that's what bothered you so much, Buffalo. As Americans, you're not used to feeling overshadowed or overmatched. Which is funny. Since that's something you taught us.

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