Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Team USA Experience

While we wait for Scott Gordon and Team USA to meet up with Mark Streit and Team Switzerland, let’s hear what Isles Captain Doug Weight had to say about HIS time with USA Hockey and Team USA:
Weight has been a member of Team USA at least nine times. One World Junior, three World Championships, two world cups and three Olympics. Yep, he’s Mr. Team USA.
We know anyone called to be part of Team USA is proud, but you would think anyone who had done it NINE times would find it a little ‘old hat‘ after awhile. Not Doug Weight.

“The World Championship in 1996 was an amazing event. The Canada Cup was the first world Cup. We beat the Canadians the best out of three with one last two wins coming back to back in Montreal. It was a pretty amazing feat. And the amount of talent that was part of that tournament was something I’ll never forget. Secondly, the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake. It was so close to 9/11. So closely removed from that experience and our country. The feeling that we had that whole tournament. We were unbelievable. Really unstoppable until the last period. Canada just outplayed us in the last period. Beat us 5 – 2. But we got a silver medal. A very proud time.”

With the travel, the grueling schedules and the less than adequate time to develop chemistry on National teams, I asked what Weight found as a negative about competing for team USA.

“I don’t consider any time really a negative time with team USA. Certainly in Torino and Nagano, we would have liked to finish higher. The tough time for me was those World Juniors. Years before they had the gold medal game, they had a different format. We ended up tying for 2nd place record wise. But came in 4th place in the tournament and not medaling. That was a tough pill to swallow. Disappointing. We played really well. That’s probably the worst.”

Basically, the worst part of being on a national team is -- losing. Everyone wants to win. And wining makes any hardship encountered just a pleasant part of the experience.

However, there is that downside of a risk factor playing high paced, high stakes games.

“I think in hindsight, it’s something you think about. It would never over take the honor of being a part of that, of being in the Olympics. You take on a chance of being hurt or injured. Obviously, your first responsibility is to this team. It’s an honor to play for your country and the league has agreed to it. So it’s nothing you’re doing on your own. You know some times there’s a little risk involved. There’s risk every time you step on the ice. I think it’s worth it and hopefully the injuries are minimal in all those situations.”

Well, so far in this year's Olympics -- every one is in one piece.

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