21Ice hockey teams of the Winter Olympics…
Like “Beam me up, Scotty,” “Luke, I’m your father,” and “you dirty rat,” the oft-told legend of the U.S. Men’s Ice Hockey team beating the Soviet Union for the gold medal in 1980 never occurred in real life.
Or at least it didn’t happen exactly that way. 38 years ago, the International Olympic Committee held its medal round as a round robin. Team USA faced Finland, not the USSR, in its final Lake Placid match and finished ahead of the Soviets by virtue of W/L record, not the iconic head-to-head victory.
Since then, the IOC has figured out that having an actual gold medal game (and a bronze medal game) is like, a good idea and stuff.
But who will play for the medals in PyeongChang? You won’t find anyone in the NHL Top 100 playing in the tournament, thanks to Gary Bettman’s ban on NHL participation (that also includes most AHL players). Instead, the Russian Kontinental Hockey League and other European organizations will provide most of the talent.
The women’s tournament has no Gary Bettman to throw a wrench in things, but as usual, female shinny stars must compete for prime-time TV coverage against skiing, figure skating and one mini-docudrama after another.
Let’s lift the clouds and Zamboni the slush away. Here’s a preview of all 20 hockey teams ranked in order of talent and experience.