This is something I'm posting here and at the STC.
'm sure some of you have heard of Eric Weinrich. If you haven't, he's a 17 year veteran of the NHL He's also a native son. In fact he grew up right here about 8 miles from where I live. He even went to grade school with my oldest daughter. Then his hockey skills became so apparent, he went to North Yarmouth Academy, a high school mecca in our area. Then it was on to the University of Maine where he starred, and then of course on to the National Hockey League. Now nearing the end of his career, he writes a column for our local newspaper, the Kennebec Journal called Wino's World. Usually it's about the NHL, but today's is about hockey and the Olympics. So, I thought I would pass it along:
Monday, February 27, 2006
WEINO\'S WORLD: ERIC WEINRICH
Thoughts on Olympic
Copyright © 2006 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
With the Olympic final concluded, here are some of my thoughts on the tournament.
Some great hockey was played and tremendous talent was displayed. Particularly, some of the young players like Alex Ovechkin and Henrik Zetterberg were outstanding, as was the MVP from Finland, Antero Niitymaki. Congrats to the medal winners from the St. Louis Blues, Christian Backman and Petr Cajanek, and to all the players involved.
Remember, these were, for the most part, the best players in the world, different to when I played when it was the best amateurs in the world. My opinion would favor the old system of only amateurs, but everyone has their opinions.
As far as the United States fared, take this into account. The last time the U.S. won was in 1980, the "Miracle", and in a lot of ways it was. I would put our lineup against any of the other ones on most any day. The players we had out there stacked up well to all the other lineups skill-wise and and overall ability. When you play in a tournament like this, there is no preparation time and the teams that do the best usually gel quickly. With a little luck and a few wins you get on a roll. I have played a lot of international games and I know from experience.
In 1988, we won our first game and were ahead of the Czechs 4-1 at one point. We win that game, we are rolling along and feeling very confident heading into the game against Russia. We end up losing the game 7-5 and go on to finish seventh. So, I can guess what you might say, "What about the other teams that had the same preparation time and played great?"
What most people don't realize is these players grow up together and play together in almost every tournament because their countries don't have as many players and from childhood they are together on their national teams. The Finnish team was not different to many of the teams I faced in many games over the years. These countries' national programs do the same things year after year and players come and go from teams but they are almost interchangable. And, if you have played in an international tournament, you have no idea how big it is in these countries.
For the final, I'm sure both countries were glued to the TVs for the whole game. Would there have been the same viewership for a Canada-U.S. final? Maybe in Canada. That is just the way it is. I'm not trying to make excuses for anyone, but these points may help with realizing the results a little better.
Everyone there wanted to win a medal, trust me. But don't ever forget that most of the athletes competing had to qualify for their spots on their respected teams and they are truly the best at what they do. It is not always about winning, but more importantly just competing. Maybe that is what Bode Miller was trying to say.
My one regret about my Olympic experience was that I didn't experience what the games were all about
: A gathering of countries competing on the biggest stage with the most gracious display of sportsmanship you'll ever see.
So, now back to the season and, hopefully, continue the roll we ended on. The guys and the fans deserve a little success down the stretch after the season we've had. I'll tell you one more thing, the NHL should think about having a break this long every year. It does wonders for your body and mind. Although some guys might never return when the break is up.
You can go here to see it: