Miracle at the 2014 Olympics

The 2014 USA Olympic hockey team roster has been announced, which means there is only one thing left to do: have some fun and assign each member on this year’s roster with the alter ego of someone on the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” roster. If you have never heard of the “Miracle on Ice,” just know you are a traitor and I hate you. Firstly though, some context.

This truly is perfect. Thirty-four years ago, we were in the middle of the Cold War. Russia came to our soil and we took them down with our rag-tag bunch of players who had known each other for less than a year and would barely be allowed to have a beer today.

Now, just one month from today, we are going there with a team that has gotten some flack after the announcement yesterday. The tensions with Russia are still there. They housed Edward Snowden after his NSA leaks, the USA sent two openly gay representatives in spite of Vladimir Putin’s firm anti-gay beliefs, and it’s pretty apparent that Putin and President Obama aren’t too fond of one another. Proof:

Huffington Post

Photo: Huffington Post

After the announcement yesterday, the Internet took the liberty of voicing its opinion on the selections.

“First team USA picks a s*** Olympic team, and then they lose in the world juniors, can't get any better as a Canadian,” exclaimed one Twitter user. “Team USA 2014 mens hockey team is a f****** joke,” croaked another on Twitter.

The selection committee didn’t help itself out by contacting a wrong number and said it had made the USA Hockey roster.

Right off the bat, we have a problem. The 1980 roster had 20 names on it, while the 2014 roster has 25. (Ralph Cox – you deserve retribution). So, some current members might not be named. But then again, I have no clue what I am even talking about so none of these really matters. But down to business.

            Jim Craig

Ryan Miller earns this spot, no questions asked. Craig was the quintessential American inspiration during the games at Lake Placid. During the 2010 games, Miller put on a clinic. Heading into the gold medal game, he was averaging 1.04 goals-against and had a save percentage of 95.37. He, much like Craig, put the team country on his back. And Miller has a pretty striking resemblance to the actor that played Craig in the Disney motion picture.

FanPopWhiz Wit Sports

Photos: Fan Pop, Whiz Wit Kid

           Ken Morrow 

Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild earns this spot. Morrow started at defense for the Miracle team and Suter will assume a similar role. He, Suter, leads the NHL in minutes per game so he used to putting in work. Morrow didn’t earn much facetime in the movie but the guy was a horse. Suter surely will provide that work ethic the USA needs.

            Mike Ramsey

Gotta give this to two current members, Paul Martin of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers. Ramsey started alongside Morrow at the blue line and also was the youngest member of the roster in 1980. Martin would be the obvious selection to partner with Suter but a lingering tibia injury complicates things. McGonagh gets the nod from me because he likely will be in the first line and because being 24 years old puts him on the younger end of the roster.

            Mark Johnson

Easy. Zach Parise. He tied the game up in 2010 against Canada with less than 30 seconds in regulation. Johnson, similarly, hit the game-tying shot with ONE second left in the second period against the Soviets. Parise has a style of play that “stretches far beyond the score sheet” but needs to get healthy before the games.

           Buzz Schneider, John Harrington, Mark Pavelich

In the film these three work together like clockwork. They always find each other on the ice and even finish each other’s sentences. So I have designated Toronto Maple Leafs Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk to represent all three of these guys. These two have a chemistry that was attractive to the committee. It would be egregious if they didn’t appear in the same shift.

           Rob McClanahan

Somewhat of a difficult decision. McClanahan started up top but also had an injury during the Sweden game. (Note: About 90 percent of my information is based on the film. Just thought I would throw that out there.) David Backes of the St. Louis Blues gets to be the guy to yell, “I AM A HOCKEY PLAYER!” Backes has had some injuries scared but that hasn’t stopped him from being one of the top performers in the NHL this year. I also made this decision because McClanahan is from Saint Paul, Minn. and Backes is from Minneapolis. If you know anything about geography, they’re pretty close so I figured this would be good enough.

           Jack O’Callahan

O.C., as he is called, is a spitfire. He’s kind of an idiot and always likes to stir the pot. This undoubtedly goes to Patrick Kane. Kane is notorious for partying and being into himself. He once couldn’t pay for a cab so he and someone else beat the driver up and asked him “Do you know who I am?” Chicago bouncers claim to have endless stories about Kane and his drunken stupors. All of this aside, he will be extremely important to the USA next month.

           David Silk

Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks. I don’t have much reasoning behind this. Silk started for in 1980 and Kesler likely will too. If not, he will see significant time. Silk assisted two of the goals against the USSR, which I use to say he was one of the most important players on the team. Kesler has been called the “single-most important forward on the American squad,” which is reason enough for me to pair up the two.

            Ralph Cox

Now I know that Cox wasn’t actually on the 1980 roster but his role in the movie was too good for him to leave out. Representing Cox for the 2014 Sochi Olympics is Ottawa Senator Bobby Ryan as the biggest snub of the games. Since the 2008-09 season, Ryan ranks fourth in points behind Kane, Kessel, Parise and in front of Joe Pavelski. Basing solely off this, it’s a shame he didn’t make the team. But the coaches and committee have made their case that Ryan just simply did not fit into the scheme they have planned. So, too bad for Ryan. I just hope he played college hockey for the right reasons.

            Mike Eruzione

I had to save the best for last. Now this decision through and through is 100 percent biased. Eruzione, as everyone knows, was the leader of the Miracle on Ice squad. He donned the “C” on his jersey and he wasn’t even in the starting shift. He didn’t play for Boston University. He played for the United States of America. I give the honor of being Eruzione to none other than my fellow Rochestarian Ryan Callahan. Callahan, not only is from Rochester, but he is my neighbor.

Humble brag time: I see him all the time in the summer and do my best not to gawk. He walks his dog and goes to Wegmans just like anyone else. Except he’s not anyone else. He is an Olympic medalist and a heck of a hockey player. So, like I said, I made this decision entirely subjectively. Callahan, in my eyes, is a cool dude and it goes without saying that Eruzione is the same.

I think that is all I have time for. While I didn’t use all the names on either roster, I wasn’t looking for the best players, just the right ones.

It bears repeating one more time that I have no idea what I really am talking about with my decisions. To be honest, I don’t know hockey that well.

But I do know two things: I love America and I love sports. And when you combine the two, it becomes euphoric.

I will leave you with this. It is the speech Herb Brooks gives in Miracle. I would advise you watch it every day for the rest of your life, but definitely at least until the Winter Olympics are over.