The initial focus of the Gold Rush 2002 - as mentioned on the box - was to cover the selection process and this is reflected well with extensive coverage of the discussions Wayne Gretzky and his coaching staff had about who should be the first players selected and then when the final roster was due to be announced. There are interviews with the Great One, coaches Pat Quinn, Jacques Martin and Ken Hitchcock and along the way various players including team captain Mario Lemieux. The overall access to the key players in the Team Canada set up is impressive and this glimpse into the behind the scenes action needed to put together an Olympic sports team is intriguing, to say the least. Whether the pleasant, amicable discussions were always order of the day is impossible to say - if you go by the DVD then everyone got on swimmingly - united by the goal of improving on the disappointment in Nagano four years earlier.
Overall, I felt the approach to the story was quite refreshing but I doubt the repeat viewing value of the complete feature - you may want to relive the great moments on-ice and find yourself using the scene selection to get there rather than watch the whole thing. Having said that, I recently watched this for a second time in order to prepare for this article and really enjoyed it - there again I was holed up in bed with a badly sprained ankle at the time!!
If you get the DVD version of this - I think it is available on VHS as well - you get some special features described by the box as complete team bios and day-to-day Olympic photo journal. And you know what, these features do exactly what they say on the tin - you get pretty good bios of the players and some behind the scenes and on-ice pics to flick through. The most intriguing special feature for me though is one that isn’t even mentioned on the box and that is the full version of Wayne Gretzky’s press conference following the Czech Republic match. Parts of this are used within the main feature but is interesting to see it in full in the order it was said. Now I’m not a Canadian but it must have been reassuring at the time if you were to hear just how much the whole Olympic adventure meant to Gretzky - one thing to note here though is that not everyone ‘dislikes’ Canada in the way he suggested and I am planting myself firmly in the ‘our fans across the world’ group that he mentioned!
Overall, a well put together package that celebrates the historic achievements of the men’s team but also provides an interesting insight into the behind the scenes of the hockey world. One thing would have made the whole package so much better would have been to not ignore the ladies - even if it was only including highlights from their games as an extra feature it would have made the thing much more rounded and paid tribute to the historic double gold medal that Team Canada won. Having said this, I would heartily recommend this to all hockey fans - regardless of who you wanted to win Gold - but if you were, like me, rooting for Mario and Team Canada then you must watch this. One final word of warning - this is only available on DVD on region 1 so make sure your player will play it before rushing out and buying it!
PD - 22/02/03