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"Miracle" and the incoherence of 140 Twitter characters

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I'll have to admit that I have yet to figure out the finer points of twitter - our blogging software automatically posts links for us on it, but beyond that, I'd have to say that I'm a neophyte. I did just figure out this morning how to see things that other people have written directly to me. Like this one in reference to my post where I suggested that the US winning their game against Canada - where they were 1.5-to-1 underdogs - was not a miracle:

"ummm maybe you shud hav waited 2 03 3 days to stop being bitter b4 u wrote that know it all hockey column. real fans knew that...oh n 12 of 20 1980 USA team members played n the NHL n only 6 of those had long careers. Not exactly "NHL ready college kids""

That's actually two separate comments, btw. The 140-character limit makes it tough to fit your thoughts in.

Look, I've made my opinion abundantly clear: the best American hockey team ever assembled at the international level is the 1996 World Cup team. Seriously, look at that defense: Leetch, Housley, Kevin and Derian Hatcher, Chelios, Suter and Mathieu Schneider. (And Shawn Chambers, for what it's worth.) Richter in goal. At worst, four hall of famers at forward.

And we need to stop the myth-making around the 1980 US Olympic team. It was a good team - there were six players who jumped straight to real roles the NHL right after it was done. 17 players had been drafted either by the NHL or WHA or both. Eleven players had significant NHL careers. Four players - Harrington, Schneider, Eruzione and Suter - had already played professional hockey and had their eligibility re-instated; they were on the roster to provide veteran leadership and we wouldn't have expected them to continue on to NHL careers. These were not the typical US olympians of the era.

To put it another way: they were no Switzerland. Jonas Hiller and Mark Streit are more skilled than anyone on the American roster was at the time of the 1980 Olympics, but will any other Swiss player crack an NHL roster after the games are over? Severin Blindenbacher is one of their top defensemen, and he was a 9th round pick and minor-league journeyman. And yet, the Swiss still have a 17% chance to beat the US today.

Or to put it another way:

USA 1996 > USA 2010 >> USA 1980 > SUI 2010

I've lived in the US for a long time. I know some people still see the 1980 Olympics as payback for the Russians being first to put a dog in space. But there's nothing wrong with admitting that the US has a good hockey team as opposed to being lucky, is there? The Canadians, Russians, Czechs and Swedes would never pretend that they were underdogs at these Olympics (the Finns and the Slovaks are underdogs), so why should we pretend that an American team that's competitive with this group is an underdog?

Here's that 1980 roster just to jog your memory:

Pos. Name Age Draft NHL '80 NHL '81 Tot
G Jim Craig 21 4th/9th 4 23 30
D Ken Morrow 22 3th/8th 39 98 677
D Mike Ramsey 19 1st 26 80 1185
C Mark Johnson 22 4th/3rd 22 78 706
RW Mike Eruzione 25 ND/2nd
LW Dave Silk 21 4th 2 59 262
D Bill Baker 22 3rd/5th 11 149
C Neal Broten 20 3rd 22 1234
D Dave Christian 20 2nd 15 80 1111
RW Steve Christoff 21 2nd 34 74 283
RW John Harrington 22
G Steve Janaszak 22 1 3
LW Rob McClanahan 22 3rd 23 58 258
D Jack O'Callahan 22 6th/8th 421
C Mark Pavelich 21 378
LW Buzz Schneider 25 6th/3rd 4
RW Eric Strobel 21 8th
D Bob Suter 22 7th/7th
LW Phil Verchota 22 5th/7th
C Mark Wells 21 13th