September 21, 2016
Pucks On The 'Net: On Team USA #WCOH 2016
John Tortorella is taking a lot of heat for Team USA's demise. He probably deserves it, as he is guilty of pushing far too many buttons unnecessarily.
But Torts is just the figurehead who takes the public brunt of the fallout. Ultimately Team USA's management group will have to answer for some bizarre decisions, including picking Torts as coach and some roster decisions.
But maybe we should call a spade a spade here. American hockey is not that good right now.
Aside from Patrick Kane and Ryan Suter, not one of member of Team USA would be good enough to make Team Canada. That's just two out of 23 positions.
The American team of today pales in comparison to the 1996 World Cup championship team. They had Hockey Hall of Famers Chris Chelios, Brian Leetch and Phil Housley on defense. Brett Hull, John Leclair, Doug Weight, Mike Modano and Pat Lafontaine provided far more offense. And Mike Richter was incredible in net.
The good news is in the not too distant future American hockey will rise again. Look at that Team North America roster with Jack Eichel, Auston Matthews, Dylan Larkin and Johnny Gaudreau leading the way up front. Shayne Gostisbehere and Seth Jones promise to bring a dynamic blue line for years to come, while Jacob Trouba will bring the snarl.
Team USA 2016 really could have benefited from the presence of their under-23 talent right now. They will soon. Look out!
USA's failure at the World Cup of Hockey is a great disappointment for more than just the team.
Obviously the NHL itself wanted USA to have a stronger showing. In order for this tournament to grow, they need a presence in America. There was no better time than 2016, with ESPN showcasing the whole tournament.
Sure, hardcore American hockey fans are going to continue to tune in. They'd still tune in if it was on the Oprah Winfrey Network. The hockey has been that good. But without Team USA, the casual fan is not nearly as likely to.
That obviously makes ESPN another loser here, as ratings presumably won't be great. Everyone knows there has been a complete lack of NHL hockey coverage on ESPN for years now. ESPN is still the king of kings on the American television sports scene. Having the World Cup on ESPN was a big win for the league. This was the worst case scenario for the league.
It's too bad. Everyone was spinning memories of the 1996 World Cup endlessly in their buildup to what they hoped would be a strong American showing 20 years later. Those wonderful memories of 1996 are fading more and more.