Saturday, January 02, 2010

US builds from the net out for Olympics

New Year's Day proved to be a pretty special way to ring in the new year for Tim Thomas of the Bruins, in the afternoon he was part of the magic that seems to have become the Winter Classic match ups, this year featuring the Bruins of the Original Six with the NHL's original outlaw franchise the Philadelphia Flyers.

Thomas who at one point appeared to be ready to put the goat horns on for the B's after a short burst of selfishness saw him chasing players when he should have been watching pucks, however he redeemed himself in the late stages of the game while his Bruin team mates found the mark twice to win the match, setting the stage for USA hockey's Olympic line up announcement.

With the setting of one of Boston's mos famous landmarks behind him, the Bruin's goaltender was named to the American squad, providing Bostonians with yet another reason to cheer in the New Year.

That naming of the names allowed Thomas to trade in the Bruin's yellow and black for the red white and blue, as he joins Ryan Miller and Jonathon Quick as one of three US goal tenders heading off to Vancouver next month.

Brian Burke is the architect of the 2010 carriers of the flag, composing a team with a number of surprises, with many of the most well known names of American hockey left to watch the action through the prism of Bob Costas and NBC all from the comfort of home or perhaps a beach somewhere during the break.

He offers up an interesting mix of the well known, the rising stars and in some cases the hard working journeymen who will bring their particular skill set to the west coast.

Americans (and Canadians for that matter) who had grown used to the names of Gomez, Tkachuk, Weight, Guerin and Modano will be perhaps a little surprised to learn that they are now part of history, enshrined to the teams of the past. A move that perhaps not surprisingly, has been given a negative review by some fans and journalists.
Regardless of those concerns, the 2010 squad is moving on and with that comes the names of Kane, Parise, Brown, Ryan, Stastny and both Johnson's Jack and Erik, some of them young, others more established, all now set to put their stamp on the US Olympic program.

They are players who no doubt have the heart for the game and the skill and desire to succeed, and are now set to take on the challenge of hockey at yet another level than the seemingly never ending regular NHL season can provide.

The lack of past Olympic experience while perhaps of concern, could provide a spark of adventure for this collection of Americans, already the old memories of 1980 and the Miracle on Ice era of American hockey are getting dusted off. An unfair comparison it would seem considering the changes that International hockey has undergone since Lake Placid.

Still, motivation is always part of the mystique of the Olympics, reaching to the past to move to the future, never to be underestimated once the media machine that NBC will surely become in February gets rolling.

For the USA it will all begin in the crease, if their goaltending troika (providing Ryan Miller is allowed to leave the net during the competition) can stand up the opposing teams on a daily basis, then anything is possible, a change of momentum, a lucky break an untimely penalty by anyone could make the difference, one of many things that could offer up the tournament changing moment that provides the stamp of approval on Burke's squad.

At Fenway on Friday, they introduced the team featuring a collection of minor hockey players from around the Boston area, a smallish group of tykes just at the start of their adventures in hockey.

Part of history in 2010, perhaps one or two will repeat that moment at the other end of the introductions in twelve years, three Olympics down the line, ready to step into the line up of an under dog, but as with the announcement of New Years Day 2010 suggests, one with a bit of a bite .


USA Hockey--The US Olympic team roster for the 2010 Olympics
Toronto Star-- New-look Team USA packed with potential
Globe and Mail-- Youngsters Kane and Johnson highlight Team USA
Globe and Mail-- Whew, Thomas says, after being bailed out
National Post-- Burke says goaltending the key to U.S. team's success
National Post-- U.S. Olympic men's hockey team boasts young lineup
CBC-- Americans go with new-look squad for 2010
CBC-- Americans counting on Miller in Vancouver
Chicago Sun Times-- Team USA has picked itself to fail
Dallas Morning News-- Dallas Stars' Mike Modano understands omission from Olympic team
CBS Sports-- Turning the page
ESPN Chicago-- Kane excited about Olympic opportunity
USA Today-- U.S. Olympic hockey analysis: What each player adds to team Unproven Team USA can mix it up

No comments: