2010 Olympic Hockey in our Home: Team USA vs. Team Canada
One of the most anticipated events of the year is coming up for our family. I'm talking about the Winter Olympics, or more specifically Men's Olympic Hockey. My husband is from Canada and I from right here in the USA. Yes, I know Canada is one of the three teams favored to win the Gold medal (Russia and Sweden are the other two) but as the USA proved in 1980, miracles do happen!
I'll admit it, I haven't always been a hockey fan. I considered myself a football fan who loved Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins. I was totally depressed when he retired. I also went through a stage where I was a NASCAR fan and I still watch it on occasion. But now, it's really all about hockey. Believe me, you'd understand if you were married to a Canadian!
One of the first things my husband ever bought me when we were dating was a Carolina Hurricanes hockey jersey. I had just moved back to North Dakota from North Carolina where the Canes were on a tear and went on to win the Stanley Cup. I was proud to sport my new purchase which was bought for me during my first-ever trip to Canada when my husband took me to Regina, Saskatchewan. With me in my red, black and white Canes Jersey and he in his red, white and black Team Canada jersey, we were quite the pair. We even dressed that way as we left our wedding reception to honeymoon in, where else? Canada.
Being in North Dakota, it makes sense to be a Minnesota Wild fan, which I am and dream to see a live game at the Excel Energy Center someday. But I also like the Chicago Blackhawks and once in a while I will find myself cheering for a Canadian team or two. But for the Olympics it is Team USA all the way!
2010 Team USA Roster
Tim Thomas, 35 (Boston Bruins); Ryan Miller, 29 (Buffalo Sabres); Jonathan Quick, 24 (Los Angeles Kings)
Brian Rafalski, 36 (Detroit Red Wings); Ryan Suter, 25 (Nashville Predators); Paul Martin 28 (New Jersey Devils) - withdrawn due to injury; Mike Komisarek, 28 (Toronto Maple Leafs) - withdrawn due to injury; Erik Johnson, 21 (St. Louis Blues); Brooks Orpik, 29 (Pittsburgh Penguins); Jack Johnson, 23 (Los Angeles Kings); Ryan Whitney, 26 (Anaheim Ducks) - injury call-up; Tim Gleason, 27 (Carolina Hurricanes) - injury call-up
Zach Parise, 25 (New Jersey Devils); Chris Drury, 32 (New York Rangers); Dustin Brown, 25 (Los Angeles Kings); Jamie Langenbrunner, 34 (New Jersey Devils); Paul Stastny, 24 (Colorado Avalanche); David Backes, 25 (St. Louis Blues); Patrick Kane, 21 (Chicago Blackhawks); Phil Kessel, 22 (Toronto Maple Leafs); Ryan Kesler, 25 (Vancouver Canucks); Bobby Ryan, 22 (Anaheim Ducks); Joe Pavelski, 25 (San Jose Sharks); Ryan Malone, 31 (Tampa Bay Lightning); Ryan Callahan, 24 (New York Rangers)
Though they aren't favored to win any medals, Team Captain, Jamie Langenbrunner says, "Our focus is to go and win the gold. That's our only focus. We're going to win the gold medal, and it would be fantastic. I've never thought of anything else."
Langenbrunner grew up in a small town in northern Minnesota just an hour away from the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. In 1998, he played in the Olympics in Japan where Team USA placed 6th. Then he was only 22 now he is 34 and says, "I understand this will probably be my last crack at it and I think when you’re young you sometimes don’t realize those opportunities. The older you get, the more you enjoy them.”
Although Team USA is young, with the team's average age being 26 1/2 years old, there are a few other veteran players besides Langenbrunner who have also had some Olympic experience and Stanley Cup wins. (Langenbrunner won with Dallas in 1999 and New Jersey in 2003). Brian Rafalski is a member of three championship teams and has been to the Olympics three times, as has his teammate Chris Drury, captain of the New York Rangers.
Langenbrunner says its an honor it play for Team USA. “There’s only so many ways you can represent your country. The men and women of the military are the ones that do it the greatest and sacrifice the most. Ours is on a smaller scale to represent our country, but we take it with that same honor, that we are representing and what they’ve provided us and the freedoms they've given us.”
The last medal Team USA won at the Olympics was in 2002 in Salt Lake City where they finished with a silver. Their last gold medal win was in 1980 at Lake Placid which was a true miracle on ice as the US, a team made up of amateur and collegiate players, defeated the Soviet Union who was considered the best hockey team in the world. The US went on to win the gold medal by winning their final match over Finland. This phenomenal event is captured in the Disney movie, Miracle and stars Kurt Russel playing Coach Herb Brooks.
2010 Team Canada Roster
Martin Brodeur, 37 (New Jersey Devils); Roberto Luongo, 30 (Vancouver Canucks); Marc-Andre Fleury, 25 (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Scott Niedermayer, 36 (Anaheim Ducks); Chris Pronger, 35 (Philadelphia Flyers); Shea Weber, 24 (Nashville Predators); Drew Doughty, 20 (Los Angeles Kings); Duncan Keith 26 (Chicago Blackhawks); Dan Boyle, 33 (San Jose Sharks); Brent Seabrook, 24 (Chicago Blackhawks)
Sidney Crosby, 21 (Pittsburgh Penguins); Rick Nash, 25 (Columbus Blue Jackets); Jarome Iginla, 32 (Calgary Flames); Mike Richards, 25 (Philadelphia Flyers); Joe Thornton, 30 (San Jose Sharks); Patrick Marleau, 30 (San Jose Sharks); Ryan Getzlaf, 24 (Anaheim Ducks); Brenden Morrow, 31 (Dallas Stars); Corey Perry, 24 (Anaheim Ducks); Dany Heatley, 29 (San Jose Sharks); Eric Staal, 25 (Carolina Hurricanes); Patrice Bergeron, 25 (Boston Bruins); Jonathan Toews, 21 (Chicago Blackhawks)
Hockey is no doubt the hottest sport in Canada. It's so popular that 1.76% of its entire population are registered hockey players. Canada also boasts the most number of players in the NHL. Despite these facts, Canada has never won a gold medal in hockey (or any sport for that matter) while hosting the Olympics. But fans and Team Canada themselves believe this is the year to change that.
Scott Niedermayer, a native of British Columbia, is serving as Captain of Team Canada. Niedermayer is a member of the so-called Triple Gold Club, a select group of players who have won a Stanley Cup, world championship and Olympic gold medal. One of the co-captains of the team, however, is certainly the one getting all of the attention.
According to Steve Yzerman, Team Canada's executive director, Sidney Crosby is "the face of Canadian hockey."
At just 22 years old, Crosby has already won a Stanley Cup (with the Pittsburgh Penguins), a Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player, and a world junior championship and could possibly be Canada's best NHL player. Crosby, who was born in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, was left off of the Olympic hockey team in 2006 where they finished 7th in Turin, Italy.
"I remember watching Salt Lake (in 2002) and really wanting to be a part of the Olympics," Crosby told reporters in Pittsburgh when he was selected to Team Canada. "It's more than just hockey. You're talking about a celebration of sports around the world, and representing Canada; being a hockey player, a sport that is so important to Canada, having it in Canada. I feel really lucky to have that opportunity."
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