It has officially been 35 years since the ‘Miracle on Ice’ in Lake Placid, N.Y., wherein an upstart squad of U.S.-born hockey players defeated a mighty Soviet Union team that was seen as gold medal favorites at the 1980 Olympics. To pay tribute to one of the most incredible Olympic sports stories and one of the most iconic hockey moments, the AAA Rochester Red Wings, a minor league affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, are hosting a ‘Miracle on Ice’ night on Aug. 1.
The evening, of course, will include brand new threads for both Rochester and their opponents, the Syracuse Chiefs. Rochester, the home team for evening, will wear the classic white jerseys that the American team wore during their defeat of the Soviets, while Syracuse will suit up in the blue visitors sweaters. And what hockey-themed night would be complete without the umpires wearing referee jerseys? Read more
TAMPA – Just the other day, Manon Rheaume went to get the oil changed on her car at a garage near her home in suburban Detroit. While she sat in the waiting room, one of the grease monkeys came out from the back with the work order in his hand. “He was looking at the name and he looked at me and said, ‘Are you the hockey player?’ ” Rheaume said. “He was like, ‘I used to have a poster of you on my wall.’ And I was thinking, ‘This is weird, you know?’ ”
Weird perhaps, but still gratifying for the first and only woman to ever appear in an NHL pre-season game. Rheaume’s world changed forever after she stopped seven of the nine shots she faced Sept. 23, 1992 for the Tampa Bay Lightning against the St. Louis Blues. She went on to play for eight different men’s teams in four minor leagues over the years, along with a team in Austria. She founded a foundation, worked in hockey and is raising two hockey-playing boys, one of whom is on the fast track with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. And starting this winter, filming will begin on Between the Pipes, the story of Rheaume’s life from the time she started playing hockey at five to when she appeared with the Lightning.
Judging Team USA on its recent finishes at the world juniors is a tricky thing. Sure, the Americans have landed fifth in the past two outings, but in both cases they fell to the rival Russians in the quarterfinal; they also could have won it all had fate bounced their way.
That is the challenge now accepted by former NHL coach Ron Wilson. Last seen behind the bench with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2012, Wilson has been announced as Team USA’s coach for the 2016 world juniors in Finland and despite his professional hiatus, I can see him being very successful in the role.
TAMPA – You could certainly tell who’s been here before. When the Tampa Bay Lightning knocked off the New York Rangers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final, they reacted, well, like a bunch of guys who were thrilled to be going to their first Stanley Cup final. When the Chicago Blackhawks took the Anaheim Ducks out in Game 7 of the western final, they looked as though they had just won a Silver Stick regional playdown.
But Lightning captain Steven Stamkos could be excused for his unbridled exuberance. This moment was seven years in the making for him. The individual accolades and the huge contract have been great, but until now Stamkos has been pining for his moment on the big stage, one that was robbed of him when he broke his leg three months before the Sochi Olympics. Sometimes when Stamkos gets out of bed, a pain shoots through that leg and gives him a reminder of the injury. Not that he needs those to recall how excruciating it was to watch his country win a gold medal, knowing full well he should have been there helping them.
Full disclosure: your trusty correspondent is in a playoff hockey pool and currently sits in first place. Take that, haters. My remaining players are Victor Hedman, Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane for the Chicago Blackhawks. I’m nine points ahead of a guy who has Hedman, Stamkos and Ryan Callahan of the Lightning and Sharp, Kane and Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks. I’m 10 points ahead of another guy who has Hedman and Stamkos from the Lightning and Toews, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith from the Blackhawks.
So, the way I see it, the only thing standing between me and lining my jean shorts with some bills is Toews having a monster Stanley Cup final and Johnson doing virtually nothing. And let’s face it, if that happens, the chances of the Blackhawks winning their third Stanley Cup in six seasons and becoming a kind of, sort of dynasty will go from very good to a virtual certainty.
Relations between Russia and North America are a little frosty right now. Discipline is expected from the IIHF after the Russians took off during the Canadian national anthem at the World Championship, while the newest issue of Harper’s magazine reveals that 81 percent of Russians today have a negative view of the United States, compared with just 25 percent in 2013.
And now a hockey legend has waded into the fray.
When fans of the Anaheim Ducks watch games such as Thursday night’s thrashing of the Calgary Flames in Game 1 of their playoff series, there’s a good chance they thank their lucky stars that Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are under contract for the next four seasons. (Oh, and if you happen to have both of them in a playoff pool, you’re probably clicking your heels together today as well. Click-click.)
They’re also probably pretty happy that Perry had such a poor showing in the CHL Prospects Game in 2003 and that Getzlaf was likened to “a poor man’s Patrick Marleau,” in THN’s Draft Preview that year. Because if not, Getzlaf would not have tumbled to 19th and Perry to 28th in that year’s draft and the Ducks would not have had the chance to take them. Read more
The good news is Team USA at this year’s World Championship has a goal-a-game in the NHL among its forwards. The bad news is it’s a committee of eight guys. Of the 13 forwards named to this year’s team, there are just 84 goals at the NHL level this season. That’s six fewer than Sidney Crosby, Tyler Seguin and Claude Giroux have among them.
It’s strange how good the United States is at almost every level of hockey. It has owned the under-18 World Championship, recently picking up its sixth gold medal in the event in the past seven years. The Americans are a force at the World Junior and women’s level, but have been a bust on the international scene with their NHL players. Read more