Where were you 37 years ago today? Do you remember? Did you even exist? I ask because 37 years ago today has gone down in american sports history as the day America won. America won in not just a brutally tough hockey game at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics but also won the hearts of fans and saddened everyday citizens everywhere. While playing the powerhouse Team Soviet Union, the young, inexperienced american college kids surely would lose right? The Soviet team were professionals. Team USA had kids playing after all. But throughout that game you started noticing something. Maybe, just maybe…they can do the impossible and beat the soviets. After their amazing and passionate coach Herb Brooks gave them a speech in between periods, the young kids from the USA fought through blood sweat and tears and eventually beat the Soviets. The underdogs won. This is known as one of if not the biggest upset in professional sports history. After conquering their toughest challenger…they were soon victorious again against their final opponent Team Finland. Now the Olympic gold medal was officially theirs.
What many might not understand today however is that the gold medal was ours too. Worrying about the dangerous, communist USSR’s foreign policies abroad the middle east and dealing with domestic and economic political issues here at home was hard. During this time in America all of these problems just took a toll on citizens all across the country. Yet this date in history changed that for many. All of us americans were winners that day. Nobody else could and ever would take that away from us.
Because of the 1980 Miracle On Ice, americans everywhere suddenly started trading in their baseball bats for a hockey stick. Or traded in their football helmet for a hockey helmet. Because of the Miracle on Ice’s victory, fans got more into hockey here in America and more importantly kids here wanted to start playing hockey. As a huge team USA hockey fan I realize hockey will never be as popular here as it is in Canada, but we can still try to make it more popular amongst ourselves. Eventually other people will catch on. More hockey fans in the states is something I desperately want to see and want to achieve! So to honor 1980’s Miracle On Ice anniversary and also continue to live up to a promise I made on twitter to @adidashockey I wanted to do something fun.
I asked on my twitter account: “Who is your favorite American hockey player in history?”
After reading these answers from everyone I realized how fun and unique the parody was among those who replied to my question.
Some people chose guys who currently still play in the NHL while others picked players that have been retired. Female hockey players, players that have a lot of experience and players who have yet to make a name for themselves at the pro level all were really neat choices to see too.
A few fans even answered from their heart by choosing people they know personally and family members and friends that make them proud everyday.
Two former american NHL stars were the heavy favorites however…….
Mike Modano, the ‘poster boy’ of american hockey players throughout the 1990’s and longer is a huge fan favorite. Modano has always been the heart and soul of any team he has played for and is one of, if not the greatest forward to ever play for Team USA hockey.
So who is the other american player that got the most votes as being a fan-favorite?
That’s right. The unofficial ‘bad boy’ of USA hockey players. While Chris Chelios is honestly known to be one of the nicest, down to earth and likeable players that doesn’t mean he isn’t to be taken lightly. His history of slightly (and some not so slightly) dirty hits on opponents and making threatening comments towards the NHL commissioner Gary Bettman during the 1994-1995 lockout proves he is as real as you can get. By not shying away from drama, being one hell of a defenseman and playing in the NHL for over three decades, Chelios is a fan favorite of many Including myself.
While this was a fun little experiment to do among usa hockey fans I want to acknowledge how much I care about USA hockey. I care about the players, old and new. I care about the fans, from hockey cities and states and fans from non traditional hockey markets.
I do though have 1 serious question to ask every USA hockey fan and everyone potentially reading this:
Why do we wait for USA hockey to become a headline to openly talk about it?
To make USA hockey great again, we who care about it must be willing to make conversation about hockey in America and try to get others interested along the way. We can’t just wait till the next Olympic games to start bringing up subjects like the impact USA born players have had in the NHL, or what the best universities are here to be playing hockey while earning an education. If USA hockey has any hope to grow here in the states, it starts with us. And if we all continue to just wait for convienient historical days to bring up our love for this sport….then hockey in america will continue to get less recognition and other countries will prosper from that. We can’t let that happen, and I have faith we won’t.