February 22, 1980 was The Miracle on Ice, when the United States Olympic ice hockey team upset the heavily-favored Soviet Union’s team by a score of 4-3. Of the 20 players on that team, 13 went on to play in the NHL. But sooner or later, they all appeared on hockey cards. Here is the earliest card of every “Miracle on Ice” player. Continue reading “Rookie Cards of the “Miracle on Ice” U.S. Olympic Team – Plus the Coaches”
Expectations were not very high for the United States Men’s Ice Hockey Team during the 1992 Winter Olympics, but for a two-week span, the group of college players and minor leaguers captured the hearts and minds of Americans watching back home.
After the U.S. rocked the hockey world at the 1980 Olympics with its “Miracle on Ice” win over the Soviet Union and subsequent gold medal victory, Americans hoped for a repeat. It wouldn’t happen that decade, though, as the U.S. finished 7th out of 12 teams in 1984 and again in 1988.
While the U.S. team may have been projected to be a doormat at the 1992 Olympics, the team proved the world wrong. Led by goaltender Ray Leblanc, an unlikely hero between the pipes, the ’92 team was the U.S.’s “Near-Miracle on Ice” – a team that was unstoppable in its first six games, only to be halted by the tournament’s eventual champion.
Part I – The Long Road to Méribel
The 1992 U.S. Olympic Team was a bricolage of college standouts and minor pro players, with a few NHLers mixed in. Building the team was an ongoing process that started in the summer of 1991 and went until a few weeks before the Olympics started in February of 1992.
Bret Hedican | #24 | Defense
I had a really good junior year at St. Cloud State University. I was on spring break, of all things, and I got a call from my parents. They said USA Hockey called, and that they wanted me to represent the Americans in Russia for a tournament called the Pravda Cup. I was blown away. I never – not once – had been asked to represent the United States in any national tournament. I had four of the best games of my life. I gave everything I had, because I knew it was my chance of a lifetime. The coaches were Dave Peterson and Dean Blais, and they asked me to try out for the National Team. I left college my senior year to make the National Team, in hopes to make the Olympic Team.
David Emma | #10 | Forward
After I won the Hobey [Baker Award, as the NCAA’s best player], I went right to the tryouts.
Shawn McEachern | #15 | Forward
We had tryouts in the summertime. That’s the way it worked with the Olympic teams back then. You went to tryouts for the National Team, and then you played for the National Team. And then you’d play a season against some NHL teams and some college and minor league teams. And then, just before the Olympics, they cut it down. We traveled around for about six months with the National Team.
Keith Tkachuk | #17 | Forward
This was before I was a professional. Because I was so young, 19 years old, I wasn’t expecting to make the team. I guess I had a good tryout. I was already enrolled to go back to school that fall, but luckily, I made it, and kept on making it, and got to go play in the Olympics.
After the modest, fourth-place finish of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Hockey team, and an increasing nostalgia for the 1980 “Miracle on Ice,” Topps issued cards of players from the 1994 U.S. National Team. Most of these players went on to play for Team USA at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, and quite a few went on to have successful careers in the NHL afterward.
Team USA insert cards were found one in every 12 packs of 1993-94 Premier Series Two. If I remember correctly, Series Two came out around February of 1994, the same month the Olympics were taking place, so the timing was right. The set consists of 23 cards. Some of the more notable players in the set are Brian Rolston, Brad Marchant and Peter Laviolette.
The Men’s Ice Hockey tournament at the 2018 Winter Olympics starts on Wednesday. Want a crash course on some Olympic hockey records to impress your friends — or just need a refresher? Then take a look at these interactive charts, which give a snapshot of the most important records in men’s Olympic ice hockey over the past 98 years.
While compiling this information, I found two records particularly eye-opening. First, the United States has been the runner-up in men’s Olympic ice hockey more than any other country. The U.S. lost the gold medal game — thus earning the silver — eight times in 23 Olympic tournaments. Six of those losses were to Canada, and two were to the USSR.
Speaking of which, the other stat that gave me pause was that goaltender Vladislav Tretiak of the USSR has played in 18 games at the Olympics — and won 16 of them! Both of those marks are records as well.
Did you find any of these records surprising or interesting? Leave a comment and let me know. ■
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.
In 1983, Walter Hill had a big idea. The 1984 Summer Olympics was set to take place in Los Angeles and baseball cards were experiencing a sharp rise in popularity. Hill and his company, Finder Image International, wanted to capitalize on the interest in both.
“I was pursuing an Olympic license for various products,” Hill said. “My friend at the Coca-Cola Company and I talked about trading cards, and I thought it was a good product, so we worked together to get a license from the Los Angeles Olympics Organizing Committee. Once the proposal was approved, we contracted Topps to manufacture the cards.”
With production help from Topps, Finder Image International issued a set of cards called “History’s Greatest Olympians” in 1983 and 1984. Actually, make that three sets.
One set, consisting of 99 cards, was sold in packs and as a boxed set. A variation of the set, using a different logo, was sold at 7-Eleven convenience stores. A third set, smaller in size at only 48 cards, was printed on packages of Coca-Cola products.
“History’s Greatest Olympians” reads like a who’s who of the quad-annual games from the 20th century: Cassius Clay, Jerry West, Jessie Owens, Jim Thorpe, George Foreman, Dorothy Hamill, Mike Eruzione and more. The back of each card gives a short story about that athlete’s feat of Olympic heroism. With the 2018 Winter Olympics taking place in February, collectors might want to give “History’s Greatest Olympians” another look. The set has enough legends, variations and oddities to make for a challenging – but not impossible-to-complete – series to collect.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.
“Father Bauer and the Great Experiment: The Genesis of Canadian Olympic Hockey” chronicles the life of Catholic priest David Bauer, who forever changed Canada’s international ice hockey program. Bauer, the younger brother of former Boston Bruins star Bobby Bauer, was himself a star player in junior hockey. But the younger Bauer decided against turning pro, and instead became a priest and then a hockey coach soon after. His decision wouldn’t just change his life, but the landscape of Canada’s Olympic Team for 30 years.
Yesterday, Eric Lindros was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame — and deservedly so. If you look at Lindros’ entire body of work — from his days as a phenom in junior hockey, to competition on the international stage, to his eight years in Philadelphia — he belongs in the Hall. Sure, his productivity sharply declined at the end of his career, but the same could be said of many other Hall of Fame players. Lindros wasn’t just awesome in his prime; he was awesome from day one. Here we will take a look at the career, illustrated with some of his best hockey cards, of one of the Hockey Hall of Fame’s 2016 inductees.
…with Sal Barry and Tim Parish.
Player not working? Listen to the podcast on SoundCloud.
In today’s podcast, Sal and Tim (@TheRealDFG) talk abut the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, including some of the preliminary matches, as well as the upcoming tournament games. They also discuss ESPN’s coverage — or lack thereof — in the United States, the uniforms and the World Cup Trophy that no one likes very much.
Speaking of unlikable trophies, here is the World Cup Trophy, which was designed by Frank Gehry and first awarded in 2004.
And here’s the original World Cup of Hockey Trophy, that was only used in the 1996 tournament.
Finally, here’s a picture of the O’Brien Trophy, which might make a more suitable award than the current World Cup Trophy.
(You can learn more about the O’Brien Trophy here.)
Total time of this podcast is 47 minutes 15 seconds.
Theme music by Jim “Not the Goalie” Howard.
Are you excited about the 2016 World Cup of Hockey? Have you watched any of the preliminary games yet, or do you plan on watching the actual tournament? What do you think of the uniforms? The trophy? Leave a comment and let us know. ■
Where were you today in 1998?
Me? I was parked in front of my television, excitedly anticipating the start of the hockey games in the 1998 Winter Olympics. This was the first time that the NHL would allow its best players to compete in the Olympic Games, which were held in Nagano, Japan that year. Many Americans, including myself, had high expectations for Team USA, especially considering that they won the World Cup of Hockey tournament in 1996.
But, the Men’s Ice Hockey Team performance — and off-ice conduct — was nothing short of a disaster in those games. (Fortunately, the Women’s Team redeemed the U.S. and won the Gold.) A few hours before their first game, against Sweden on February 13, 1998, David Letterman featured a hockey-themed Top-Ten List. Below is the transcript, Continue reading “Top Ten Hockey Player Pick-Up Lines”