Realities have returned.
Canada is to hockey as South Africa is to diamond mining.
The U.S. hockey team, like most U.S. teams, has trouble with this concept of competing for competing's sake.
And Teemu Selanne's power of love is a powerful force on any continent.
Now, back to work.
The Ducks start again Friday with the best record in the NHL, but with six players who went to the limit at the Olympics.
In 2010 the Ducks went into the Olympic break at 30-25-7, with victories in five of seven previous games, and looking at eight home games in their next nine.
Then they lost five consecutive games, finished 9-7-4 and 39-32-11 overall, and missed the postseason for the first time in six years.
This isn't quite the same.
"For one thing we're a lot better hockey team," said General Manager Bob Murray.
In 2010 Ryan Getzlaf went into the Olympics hurt and came out worse. Scott Niedermayer and Bobby Ryan also went the distance in Vancouver, and Jonas Hiller went farther than he did in Sochi.
Plus, the whole Vancouver scene was a raw nerve, especially for the Canns. They went overtime to beat the Americans in the final, and the emotions cascaded, joy and vindication but primarily relief. Afterward there were no more bullets to fire.
The 3-0 gold-medal victory over Sweden on Sunday was far more businesslike for Canada, which did not allow a goal in the semis or the final and only three in the six-game tournament. Jet lag aside, the Olympic Ducks should be able to refill themselves this time.
Again, the Ducks are home for a while. Obviously it's better to win the Pacific Division than not, but it isn't even worth discussing playoff matchups in a league where the top-scoring team scores only one more goal per game than the 20th.
The trade deadline is March 9, and the Ducks are certainly in position. They have two first-round and two second-round picks in the 2014 draft. They could use power-play oomph and, as everyone does, one more muscular defenseman.
But when the patient is fine, you do no harm. The Ducks need no locker room disruptions or reasons to grumble.
They would be shopping at a stripped-down store in any case. Few NHL teams think they are out of the playoff hunt. That means few trade partners.
"I'm open to improving our hockey team in those two areas (power play and defense)," Murray said. "But I'm not interested in rentals (players who are upcoming free agents). That usually doesn't work. I'd rather talk about a hockey deal."
The Kings are more likely to move, thanks to their 29th-ranked offense and their seventh seed in the West. But the way Canada played was an ominous sight for Kings-haters.
Canada was L.A. in red. Strait-jacket defense, clutch goaltending and constant puck possession, although it rarely led to goals. That happens to be the postseason formula in the NHL.
Canada's advantage over the U.S. was on the backline, the same one owned by Chicago and the Kings. It is no coincidence that the goalie who plays behind Duncan Keith is rarely hassled, whether it's Antti Niemi, Corey Crawford or Carey Price. Same with the joyously liberated Drew Doughty.
The Americans were overrun by Selanne and Finland in the bronze game. For Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, it confirmed the perception that, in the U.S., hockey "is the exclusive domain of pampered, entitled rich kids."
Perhaps in 2018 it will be the domain of fast, puck-moving defensemen like Cam Fowler, Kevin Shattenkirk, Jacob Trouba, Danny DeKeyser, etc. That's where the game is going and where Canada already is.
That assumes Olympic hockey will survive the usual harrumphing from the NHL owners. They didn't want to go to Sochi, either.
The players did, and people watched. Both the USA-Canada and USA-Russia games outdrew any Stanley Cup playoff game on NBCSN.
CBC's USA-Canada telecast lured 74 percent of the TV sets in Canada.
Islanders GM Garth Snow is livid that John Tavares' season ended in Sochi. Odd that he wasn't bothered by Tavares playing in Yankee Stadium last month, in 12-degree chill.
Some things are valuable even when the value isn't calculable. Maybe there's a kid in Finland, or Costa Mesa, who was enthralled by Selanne's triumphant march. Maybe there's a kid in Latvia, or Dana Point, who was inspired by Kristers Gudlevskis and his 55 saves.
That is the one thing that links the riveting Olympics and the grim march that resumes. The game usually overcomes its guardians.