USA Hockey is really in a bit of flux right now. The heroes of the '96 World Cup, and even most of the guys that took silver in 2002, are no longer in peak form, and it really showed in this tournament. Somewhere along the way, there was a gap in the development of American born players, and most of our best talent is either over 35 or under 25. It's gonna be a few years before that talent develops to the world class level needed to compete with the best. Zach Parise, Phil Kessel, Eric and Jack Johnson, these are guys who may be ready in 2010, maybe not. Don't forget that the US won the World Juniors last year, and were favored to win it this year. Kings fans can probably look forward to seeing Tim Gleason and Dustin Brown on the next Olympic team, and quite frankly, Joe Corvo would have looked a lot better than Darien Hatcher in this one, especially with goal scoring at a premium.
One of the biggest deficiencies compared to the past teams the US has put together is between the pipes. Nothing against Rick DiPietro, who played admirably (and he *was* a #1 pick overall). He didn't cost the Americans any games, but he didn't steal any either. They don't have a Mike Richter. And that fact becomes clearer when you look at the goalies for many of the teams in this tournament. The Russians, Czechs, Canadians, Finns, Swedes, and Swiss all have better goaltenders than we do. Hell, the Czech, Canadians, and Finns all have at least two goalies better than we do.
The good news is that the US won't have to face any heat from the hockey press, because the Canadians just choked even harder than we did.
A regular 'ol comment thread broke out on the last post, so I might as well add that I have one crappy US jersey (Leetch), a crappy Ukranian jersey (Zhitnik), and a crappy Russian jersey (Zhamnov). I also have a Dynamo Moscow jersey (Maxim Kuznetsov). And that does it for the international jerseys. I'd still love to get a Slovakian jersey with #26 - Stastny on it. As for the NHL stuff, I have:
- Predators - blue (no name)
- Panthers - red (no name)
- Senators - original black (no name)
- Kings - old purple (#16 Dionne)
- Kings - old white (#71 Timonen - worn by him in training camp)
- Kings - old black (#15 Stumpel)
- Kings - new purple (#28 Deadmarsh)
- Kings - new black (#20 Robitaille)
- Kings - new white (#17 Visnovsky)
- Whalers - blue (#94 Shanahan)
- Nordiques - blue (#26 Stastny)
- Flames - white (#6 Housley)
- Capitals - old red (#4 Hatcher)
And I agree, our jerseys suck. The ones from the '96 World Cup were good, but ever since Nike started making them, they're for shit. And these more form-fitting ones they've been wearing this year are awful. And don't get me started on the socks. They look like they're wearing their shin-guards on the outside.