Dean Lombardi, general manager of the Los Angeles Kings, was named to that same job with Team USA on Thursday. He will be in charge of putting together America's entry into the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
And holy shit, is he excited about it or what? Look at this friggin speech.
First of all I'd like to thank USA Hockey, Gavin Regan, Dave Ogrean and Jim Johansson for granting me the privilege of serving as general manager of the U.S. World Cup team. To be entrusted with this responsibility and this role in serving my country is one of the highest honors of my career. I can assure you that myself and my staff will do everything in our power to make this country proud. This team will be constructed on the basis of two overriding themes. One is the complete emphasis upon team, and team will be defined as burying your ego and it's nefarious agents power, fame and fortune. Team will be defined as accepting your role and team will be defined as the pursuit of a higher cause.
Fortunately this country is blessed from its inception with one of the greatest role models for this definition of team. Until the late 1800s, every military commander that had achieved significant success on the battlefield that saved or established a country went on to be king or emperor. All fell pray to ego to fame and fortune and power, regardless of the consequences. All except two. The great Roman general Cincinnatus and our founding father George Washington.
Washington could have easily made himself King, and fall prey to his ego. But he said no. He recognized that there was a higher cause, accepted a lesser role, and pursued a republic that became the foundation of this great country. It is safe to say that Washington might have in fact been this country's first great teammate. If our players can learn a small percentage of his definition of the word team, then we cannot help but be successful.
The second thing closer to home is the importance of understanding your legacy and your obligation to maintain and build upon that legacy. it is only fitting that this announcement takes place in Lake Placid, New York, the site of the greatest spiritual victory in ice hockey for this country. It is an illustrious example of the power of team. It is an example of the power of burying your ego, the power of accepting roles and the power of the pursuit of a higher cause.
It was powerful enough at that time to galvanize an entire country in what were dangerous times in this country's history. It was powerful enough to transcend generations, and it lives today and must continue in the future. For I would submit that Johnson, Broten, Ramsey, Morrow, Craig, Pavelich are the founding fathers of the greatest American team ever assembled. They were instrumental in inspiring a generation of impressionable youth that became the 1996 World Cup team. A team with the talent and the will that knocked off all the great hockey powers.
The 1996 World Cup team. Oh my God. The grace of Leetch, Modano and Weight. The toughness of Guerin, Tkachuk, Deadmarsh, Hatcher. The goal-scoring prowess of Hull and LeClair. The speed of LaFontaine and Amonte. The relentlessness of Chelios, the timeliness of Richter. This group of athletes of compiled a startling collective resume.
Six Hall of Famers. 23 Stanley Cups. 87 All-Star Games. 13 First All-Star Team selections. 16 Second All-Star Team selections. Five Norris Trophies. One Hart Trophy, a Vezina Trophy. Seven players with over 1,000 points in the National Hockey League. And less people think that team was soft, seven players with over 1,000 minutes in penalties. You can probably say eight because Chelios did enough for two people with 2,000.
But despite this startling record of individual accomplishments, like their fore fathers in 1980 they buried their egos and accepted their roles and they pursued a higher cause. And you can rest assured that in the last five minutes of that deciding game in a hostile environment, when Tony Amonte scored that goal, somewhere in that building was the spirit of Mike Eruzione.
Now it is up to this generation of great players. It is up to the Parises, the Suters, the McDonaghs and the Quicks to understand their legacy and to build upon that legacy and inspire the next generation of great American players.