Last night the USA Men’s Hockey team lost to Czech Republic after Pavel Francouz stopped all five the USA’s shootout attempts. It was a heart breaking loss after the men’s team had battle to keep the game tied through regulation and into the ten minute overtime. So when the team went to the shootout I couldn’t help but think back to the 2014 in Sochi when TJ Oshie became the shootout hero against Russia. But of course Francouz was just an iron wall not allowing the USA shooters to find the back of the net and the USA failed to medal yet again.
Now the cynical side of me says that I should’ve known that the men’s team wouldn’t do that well in the games following the NHL not allowing their players to join the games this year. If NHLers were allowed to participate the Men’s team could’ve had Auston Matthews, Patrick Kane, TJ Oshie, or Phil Kessel which might’ve helped the team defeat the Czechs last night. But on the flip side the team wasn’t good in 2014 when they did have the ability to use NHL stars on the team, so it’s really a toss up for me whether these guys could’ve helped the Men’s team earn a medal.
Basically since last night’s lost I’ve been thinking about the state of the USA Men’s Hockey team. I keep thinking that this team should’ve been able to medal considering that they have some of the best college hockey players and former NHL players making up their roster. Taking a look back at the last few Olympics I can’t help but wonder why the USA team hasn’t had much success (minus the 2010 silver medal performance) because it’s not like they don’t have the right pieces to be successful. But then again the team hasn’t been that great in international play in general, remember the disappointing World Cup of Hockey performance?
And I would love to insert my grand plan to make the men’s team better but really I have no idea. Part of me wonders if there’s a lack of talent pool for the men’s team since most athletes are playing different sports that are more mainstream like soccer or baseball. When I say mainstream, I mean readily accessible because I don’t think that there are many hockey teams at the high school level at least not the same amount of soccer or baseball teams. Which leads me to the conclusion that until hockey is a bigger sport at the prep sports level I don’t think that the USA men’s hockey team could ever really have a fighting chance to win on the global stage (although I really hope I’m SUPER wrong about this notion).
Hopefully there’s change on the horizon and that the men’s team will reach the pinnacle of success like the Women’s team (which hopefully they win their gold medal game against Canada tonight).