I had never been more excited for a Winter Olympics than this year. It wasn’t for the chance to win the overall medal count, or to see Bode Miller or Shaun White wreak havoc, it was for one thing, and one thing only, the United States Olympic Hockey Team. I thought Brian Burke did a fantastic job of putting together an American team with heart, grit, size and enough talented playmakers to make up for the fact that we don’t have as many elite level All Stars as the Canadiens or even the Russians for that matter.
The lines for the Canadiens are almost laughable to be honest. They have players who could possibly be considered top 15 players in the game, at every position down all the way to line 3 on their team.
Let’s be honest though, last nights amazing victory, and if you didn’t watch it, you missed a great sporting event, was not The Miracle on Ice. We did not beat a country who we were in the middle of war with, and that we had no business beating. Yes, we beat the worlds greatest hockey country in a preliminary round game. It was a preliminary round game though, and this is not the 1980 Lake Placid team.
This team has stars on it. Zach Parise, and Patrick Kane are two of the best goal scorers in the NHL (ranked 6th and 9th). Ryan Kesler, Chris Drury, Ryan Malone, Ryan Callahan, Dustin Brown and David Backes give us the grit and grime necessary to excel in these tournaments. We have two defenseman, one (Erik Johnson) who was drafted first in 2006 and is one of the better young players in the world, not just America, and another, Jack Johnson who was the third pick the year before and just like EJ is one of the best young players in the whole world. You add to that mix solid hitting from Stanley Cup winner Brooks Orpik and the great play of the teams most veteran player Brian Rafalski, and once again, you can see this is not the 1980 Lake Placid team.
Couple all those players with the best goaltender in the NHL in 2010 in Ryan Miller and you get the reason why I thought last night was at best a small upset.
Believe me, we were as stoked as any people across the country. There were 5 of us in my living room, screaming and yelling like we were at a live hockey game. I had my White USA Olympic hockey jersey on, and we were stoked. I’m just not as surprised as everyone else. Just like the players on our bench, I thought we had a legitimate chance to win the game.
I think the cursory hockey fans around the country quickly looked for a label to place on a sport that they don’t watch. We upset a team who has a little more skill than us, and suddenly this is Miracle on Ice? Not so sure about that. I don’t even believe if the US were to beat Canada in the greatest hockey game ever played in this tournament, that it would top the unlikelihood of that 1980 hockey team winning.
There are few moments in sports that can withstand the test of time, and generally, people ruin them by comparing them events that might have been great, but truly did not live up to the original. This was one of those games. A great win for the US, one that I will remember for the rest of my life, but not Miracle.