Congratulations to Team USA winning the gold medal at the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championship yesterday. They beat the Canadians – in Canada – in overtime 6-5. A fellow by the name of John Carlson from the state of New Jersey got the game winner. There are no Tampa Bay Lightning prospects on the American junior team.
But, in a way, it was a win for the Tampa area hockey – as well as hockey in the state of Florida. Dedicated Lightning fans well know how little Canadian hockey fans think of teams in warm climates. There’s a very vocal group of them who genuinely believe that hockey ought to be played only in places where it snows in the winter, and where the lakes freeze over hard enough to skate on.
This American national team, however, included players not from traditional hockey markets. The states represented were Washington and Oregon (not warm climates, but still not traditional hockey markets, either), Nevada, Oklahoma, and Missouri. The two from Missouri are sons of former NHLers. The one from Las Vegas isn’t, however, and is not only a product of amateur hockey in that city, but he played for amateur teams in Los Angeles as well.
I think US winning this tournament is a great thing for hockey. This US team had 10 players from non-traditional hockey markets (Oregon, Nevada, Oklahoma, etc…). If hockey (and the NHL) want to continue to grow globally, America has to get engaged and what better way to start that than with this American team winning the 2010 World Junior Championship. It won’t end there either. It’s clear the United States development program is working and will continue to produce great hockey players.
-Thoughts from last night’s Canada-USA Gold Medal game, Stayclassy.net
(As someone born and raised on the West Coast, it’s kinda nice to see western players make a national team like that.)
This not only shows that hockey works in a warm climate, but that it can flourish there – even if there isn’t an NHL team around. So while an NHL team may not be playing well, that doesn’t mean that the kids in that city aren’t playing well themselves. This is how you grow hockey in the US in non-traditional market – slowly but surely. It’s not a quick fix like many in Canada seem to think it should be.
The second most important part of this win is the one thing that the past few American Olympic teams can’t seem to grasp:
With the win by the Americans tonight, it's time that this country faces one cold, hard fact. We, as Canadians, think our players can skate with swagger just because of their pedigree. We think that they have an automatic berth in the gold medal game due to their nationality. We think that they will cruise through the teams that other countries send because they are the best of the best.
That one cold, hard fact? Despite all the skill that we assemble on paper, it's the best TEAM that wins.
-The Better Team Won, Hockey Blog In Canada
Sounds like how American teams usually are to me, and Canada found out the hard way this time around how that approach doesn't always work.
This game will be rebroadcast by the NHL Network at 6 pm Eastern tonight.