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A few of the Canadian fans who were able to watch and celebrate a gold medal at Real Sports Bar in Toronto as Canada defeated the United States in women’s hockey at the Sochi Olympics on Feb. 20, 2014. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)
A few of the Canadian fans who were able to watch and celebrate a gold medal at Real Sports Bar in Toronto as Canada defeated the United States in women’s hockey at the Sochi Olympics on Feb. 20, 2014. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)

It was sudden death for workplace productivity as Canada won gold in women’s hockey Add to ...

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From Bay Street to Ottawa to offices from coast to coast, productivity slowed to a crawl as hockey fans were lured to TV sets, computers and mobile devices for the dramatic overtime showdown in women’s hockey.

Toronto’s city council erupted with applause midafternoon as the game was tied in the dying seconds. A jubilant Mayor Rob Ford jumped into the air six times, sending his cellphone flying to the floor.

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City business had temporarily been abandoned as councillors watched the last minutes of the third period on the chamber’s big screen. Minutes later, councillors voted to resume business rather than watch overtime, but at least five screens were showing the game on councillors’ desks. One politician was chastised for watching, but after the game-winning goal was scored, councillors decided to turn the big screen back on to watch the medal ceremony.

Television screens attracted audiences throughout Toronto’s financial district. The trading floor at TD Securities erupted in cheers after the winning goal. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce economist Benjamin Tal was on his way to a meeting when he saw hundreds of people watching the game on a big screen in a food court. “It was 2:45 and my meeting was at 3:00, so I decided to stay for a few minutes,” he said. “Talk about timing. Less than five minutes into it, Canada scored the winning goal. It was an unbelievable picture to see hundreds of people celebrating and hugging total strangers.”

In Calgary, Brett Wilson, a long-time oil patch financier who owns slightly more than 10 per cent of the Nashville Predators, watched the entire game in his office with about 15 of his staff. “By the middle of the third period, there was quiet acceptance that it’s not our turn, which evolved to ‘new game’ comments on 2-to-1, to ‘gotta believe’ comments on tying the goal, to ‘no frigging way’ with the overtime win,” he recalled.

Mark Wiseman, president and chief executive for the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, watched the overtime goal at the Porter lounge at the Toronto Island airport. “Having heard the two goals in the cab on the way to the airport, I rushed through security in time for the overtime.” he said. “Since there are no TVs in the lounge, everyone was huddled around laptops or iPads streaming the game. Interestingly, those that had faster connections saw the goal before others. So, one half of the lounge cheered, then the other half waited for 30 seconds to get confirmation of the result from their own screens."

According to CBC’s early numbers, the game posted the highest online viewing audience ever to a CBC live event, with a preliminary average audience of more than 325,000 on desktop and mobile devices combined, according to a spokeswoman. That topped the previous record of 280,000 that was set during the prior day’s men’s hockey game between Canada and Latvia.

Many hockey fans, though, were left yearning for a video feed in the middle of their workday.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi was attending a lunch event, but said he “surreptitiously” followed the game online, and friends sent him text-message updates.

“I was at the Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions, full of a bunch of artists and philanthropists and supporters of the arts – and it’s not exactly a group that you think would watch hockey scores,” he said. “But did they ever watch the hockey scores. I saw so many phones out.”

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