Originally Posted by jeffb
30 years ago USA won gold and in 96 i believe, beat Canada in the world cup of Hockey or was that still called the Canada cup i forget. I'm not saying they all were better then us 30 years ago, but it slowly started 30 years ago and really they caught up fully in the mid 90's.
Um, Jeff, this goes back to the conversation earlier in the thread. In 1980, Russia was sending its best players to the Olympics, the US and Canada did not. That's why they call it the MIRACLE on ice. The US team was a bunch of college kids. Their best players were guys like Neal Broten. So, using the 1980 win as a benchmark for catching up is wrong. It may have initiated more interest in hockey, but the US hadn't really caught up. College kids playing over their heads is not catching up. The Miracle on ice spawned more interest in hockey amongst Americans, but that depth never manifested itself until the mid to late 90s. Yes, the 96' loss to the US is technically the "mid" 90s, so I'll grant you that..one year from the "late" 90s. However, that Canadian team was missing the best player in the world...Mario Lemieux. He was on the ice in 2002 when Canada easily beat the US in the Gold medal game. I said late 90's because that's when several teams other than Russia had demonstrated they could play with Canada, if we didn't have our best players. By the late 90s, the Czechs could run 3 solid lines and had the best goalie in the world. The Swedes started to have a lot of quality depth, although they had shit goaltending (they now have a good goalie). That was my point. When you say the "world" caught up, you have to be able to point to more than a couple of countries.
Prior to the late 90s, if the best players were involved, it was never really a legitimate 4-6 team race, like it definitely is now.