By Jon Gabrielle, Special to THW
Do I think that the USA will win the Gold Medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics? No, I do not. Do I think that they can win a Medal, any Medal at these games? Perhaps, but probably not. But would it absolutely shock me, and the hockey world, if they did pull off that amazing feat and win this tournament? It shouldn’t.
Steve Yzerman, the Executive Director of Team Canada said, “that they won’t be throwing any parades in Moscow if the Russians come home with Silver.”
Conversely, no one will be asking, “do you believe in miracles?” if the Americans win.
No, this isn’t 1980 and there will be no “miracles” by the Americans this time around, win or lose!
For starters, every player on the USA squad is a bonafide NHL’er. The Russians cannot even say that.
There is not one single american player currently on a University roster. No one from the University of Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth nor Lake Superior State! Instead these “boys” hone their skills competing for bigger trophies in a league widely regarded as the world’s best.
On a nightly basis, they fight for Calder, Vezina and Frank J. Selke trophies among others, including that hallowed Chalice of all, Lord Stanley’s Cup. Yes, these americans are professionals, that much is certain.
Besides competing amongst and with the best professionals in the world eight months a year, these americans are vastly different than their cousins, uncle’s and dad’s of 30 years ago. That team had been undressed by the Russians,10-3, in an exhibition at Madison Square Garden only days before those Olympics started.
This american team is arriving in Vancouver believing they can win. Some coming in having face-washed “Sid the Kid” only days before, helping Crosby and Fleury lose two straight heading into the break.
The American Captain, Jamie Langenbrunner has won two Stanley Cups with two different teams, the Dallas Stars and the New Jersey Devils. All he knows how to do is win…and finish! The current New Jersey captain had this to say when asked Sunday about his teams’ chances. “I never consider myself an underdog…I go into every game believing I can win and that I am going to win.”
Los Angeles Kings defenseman, Jack Johnson said, “I don’t go in thinking we are playing some giants or anything.” Then he added, “we are the United States of America and we’re a pretty big deal, I think.”
I’m not sure, as fine a public orator as Mike Eurizone has become, that he could say it any better than that.
Up front they have proven goal scorers in Phil Kessel and Patrick Kane, as well as winners like Bobby Ryan and Zach Parise. Defensively, veteran Brian Rafalski will anchor a tough, albeit young core to protect their own end. But that’s where East Lansing native, Ryan Miller steps in, and hopefully steps up for the Americans.
Currently the NHL’s best goalie, Ryan Miller, a slight upgrade to Jim Craig and days gone by(with all due respect), makes these Americans indeed quite different and quite capable.
As a Canadian friend of mine likes to remind me, “this isn’t your father’s Buick,” and this isn’t 1980.
Therefore, win or lose, don’t look for any Miracles in Vancouver!