When the 1980 US men’s hockey team beat the Soviet Union and took gold, they did it with a roster full of unknown players. 38 years later, the US team will try to win its 1st gold since the “Miracle On Ice.”
Arcobello, a forward who last played with the Toronto Maple Leafs two seasons ago and now gets a paycheck from Bern SC where he is a scoring star. J. Blum, a 2007 first-round defenseman pick of the Nashville Predators who fought to stick in the NHL and has instead spent his last 3 seasons in Russia. Goalie D. Leggio, a 33-year old minor leaguer now plays for Germany. Players with likewise middling resumes complete the rest of the roster spots for the US who will open on Wednesday against Slovenia. Miles away, US star Auston Matthews will play the Columbus Blue Jackets in Toronto.
When the NHL decided last April that it won’t allow its players to be in the Olympics for the first time since 1994, it doomed the men’s hockey team to 2nd rate status. Or blessed it, how you want to look at it. NHL players are great, but there’s something fresh about the way it will be this time. Let’s take advantage of that. We see how good we are.
To achieve that, Granato may want to use the famous Herb Brooks quote from Miracle, when the renowned coach tells his underdog team: “You think you can win on talent alone? Men, you don’t possess sufficient talent to win on talent.” While there is a real nostalgic sense to men’s ice hockey this year, America isn’t alone in being made to play without its top talent. That might have been the issue with how it turned out. Oh, well, maybe next Olympics pro players might be back in.