A part of a two-article series, read the second piece here. The stage was set. The United States had a spectacular all-star roster, with big names rivaling that of favorites Team Canada and Team Sweden. Even more so, they were placed in a division that had Canada and themselves absolutely screaming for the two to move on. Team Czech looked to be extremely weak and Team Europe seemed to be a random assortment of European players. Easy, right?
When the pre-tournament started, Team USA looked as good on the ice as they did on paper. Going 1-1 in games against Canada, the heavy favorites to win the entire tournament, they even took an exhibition game 3-2 against Finland.
A semi-final berth seemed easy to grasp—it was so close. Then the puck dropped and everything went through the glass. The U.S. lost to Europe 3-0, Canada 4-2 and the Czech Republic 4-3 to become the only team in the entire tournament to not win a game.
The U.S. seemed flawed from the beginning, chasing the ghosts of 20 years ago. With general manager Dean Lombardi and coach John Tortorella at the forefront of player-selecting and decision making, this year’s team may have won years ago.
Hockey has evolved, however, and the same things that guarantee a win in the past don’t necessarily predict a win in the future. The U.S. needs to take a step back, re-tie the laces and move forward with a new mindset. Choosing a new core and coach for the team has to be at the forefront of the mind if changes are to happen.
If this tournament has brought any consolation to U.S. fans, it’s that the young talent that made up Team North America—comprised of Canadian and U.S. players under 23—is the real deal and looks promising.