The best American hockey team of all time didn’t need a miracle.
No U.S. team has ever achieved more fame than the 1980 Olympic squad that stunned the Soviet Union in the semifinal before completing the ‘Miracle on Ice’ by beating Finland for gold in Lake Placid, N.Y.
That squad’s spectacular rise is one of the best stories in sports history, period. The reason for that, though, is because it was the ultimate underdog tale, a group – as they’ve so often been described – of rag-tag college kids shocking the world.
The shock was still there 16 years later at the next big triumph for Team USA, but it was more about how good the team was rather than the fact it took on the world and won.
The American team that beat Canada in a best-of-three final at the 1996 World Cup is the best collection ever to wear stars and stripes. It was a coming out party for Team USA, which rolled through the round-robin, toppled Russia in the semifinal and bounced back from a Game 1 overtime loss in the final to earn consecutive victories over Canada in Montreal to win the tournament previously known as the Canada Cup. Read more
The 2014 Free Agent Frenzy (aka, Overpay Day) is upon us and the gates are open. Which teams will land this year’s biggest fish and how much will they have to pay to land them?
It’s not the best free agent crop, but useful players can still be had. Matt Niskanen and Dan Boyle top the list of defensemen available, while Ryan Miller and Jonas Hiller will look for a new home in net. Up front, Jarome Iginla, Thomas Vanek, Ales Hemsky and Paul Stastny will look to get their homerun deal. Where do they best fit.
What do you want your favorite team to do today, and what do you think of the moves? Let us know in the comments section below as THN breaks down each signing as it happens.
With July 1 just a day away, we take a look at what each team is looking for heading into the free agent frenzy. Depending on who you ask, there’s either not much to choose from or a buffet of talent available.
Regardless, there’s always something for every club…
Anaheim: The Ducks are convinced they have the real deal in soon-to-be 21-year-old goalie John Gibson and he’s ready for the NHL, so they can let Jonas Hiller walk. Frederik Andersen showed this season he’s at least a capable backup, if not more. Gibson and Andersen make less than $2 million combined for the next two seasons, meaning Anaheim can divert more capital to adding another top-four defenseman and skilled forward. Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu coming off the books frees up another $4.5 million. Anaheim would like to keep defender Stephane Robidas, but he’s 37 and makes a healthy $3.3 million.
Arizona: Radim Vrbata was a bargain signing in 2011 when the Coyotes retained him for $9 million over three seasons. Since then, the 32-year-old Czech has been a top-line player and scored at an 82-game pace of 29 goals and 60 points. That should earn him north of $5 million on the open market if the Coyotes are unable to keep him. The team was very happy with the way Thomas Greiss filled in as backup and injury replacement to Mike Smith. The 28-year-old German posted a superior GAA and SP to Smith’s. Because Greiss is young and a UFA, the Coyotes will have to pay dearly to keep him. Read more
The 2014 NHL Draft is upon us. For pick-by-pick action, check out THN.com’s Draft Central. Who will be picked first overall? Aaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart, Sam Bennett, or what about Leon Draisaitl?
By Uffe Bodin
The year 1989 was one of great historical significance. In Europe, the Iron Curtain that had been dividing the eastern world from the more modern west since World War II was crumbling; the Berlin Wall, the most obvious symbol of ideological differences, was torn apart in November of that year; and within the Soviet Union, the Communist regime was slowly losing its power. The Cold War wasn’t nearly as chilly anymore.
Even in the NHL, to quote German hard rock band Scorpions’ hit single that tried to capture the spirit of the time, you could sense a “wind of change.” At the 1989 draft at the Met Center in Bloomington, Minn., 41 Europeans were chosen and for the first time one of them was picked first overall. A tall, blond Swede with braces was called to the podium by Quebec Nordiques chief scout Pierre Gauthier. The native of Bromma, outside of Stockholm, went by the name of Mats Sundin. Read more
In our May 26 “Lists Issue”, we handed out our annual hardware, which differs from the NHL’s offerings that will be revealed tonight in Las Vegas. In case you missed it, here’s who we feel was this season’s best of the best:
Wayne Gretzky Award (MVP): Sidney Crosby
Usually, the Penguins rely on their supporting cast to step up when Crosby is hurt. It was the opposite in 2013-14. He played 80 of 82 games and did so at an elite level.
Runners up: 2. Claude Giroux; 3. Semyon Varlamov; 4. Ryan Getzlaf; 5. Ben Bishop
Mario Lemieux Award (Best Player): Sidney Crosby
A healthy Crosby is the best player of his generation and he didn’t disappoint in a full season, reaching 100 points for the fifth time and winning the scoring title by 17 points.
Runners up: 2. Ryan Getzlaf; 3. Claude Giroux; 4. Patrice Bergeron; 5. Corey Perry
Patrick Roy Award (Best Goalie): Tuukka Rask
Despite concerns about how he’d hold up over an 82-game schedule, all Rask did was finish in the league’s top-five in wins (36), goals-against average (2.04), save percentage (.930) and shutouts (seven).
Runners up: 2. Semyon Varlamov; 3. Ben Bishop; 4. Carey Price; 5. Sergei Bobrovsky Read more
By Sean Shapiro
It was like being the new kid at school – if you arrived just in time for exams. With the exception of a morning skate, Brett Ritchie didn’t even have a chance to practice with the American League’s Texas Stars before making his 2014 Calder Cup Playoff debut in Game 6 of the second round against the Grand Rapids Griffins May 18.
Nursing an injured ankle back to health, the second-round pick (Dallas, 44th overall in 2011) missed the Stars’ first eight playoff games and hadn’t played since April 13 against the San Antonio Rampage.
Not knowing how the ankle would hold up or how he’d feel jumping into a playoff series against the defending Calder Cup Champions, Ritchie shook off some early jitters and scored in a 7-1 series-clinching victory. “It’s good, it gives you some confidence around the net,” Ritchie said. “I didn’t feel very comfortable around the net at the start of the game, but for that one (goal) to go in, it kind of bounced me back to where I was before I got hurt.”
Ritchie, recapturing his pre-injury form, provided a much-needed boost for Texas as it battled through a seven-game series with the Toronto Marlies to reach the Calder Cup final and a five-game series against the St. John’s IceCaps to win the AHL title. The Orangeville, Ontario native had 11 points in 13 post-season games, two of which came in Tuesday’s 4-3 Game 5 OT win that clinched the Calder Cup for Texas. Read more
By Jared Clinton
1. Cory Conacher
C, Buffalo Sabres
Early last season, Conacher was a sneaky favorite for the Calder Trophy. The diminutive forward was turning in an eye-opening offensive campaign in Tampa Bay when, out of the blue, he was dealt to Ottawa in exchange for Ben Bishop. History will not be kind to that trade. The Senators waived Conacher after he failed to show even moments of the brilliance that put him in the conversation for rookie of the year. In 79 games this season, Conacher failed to match the 11 goals he tallied in his lockout-shortened rookie campaign. Read more