Heading into his second Olympics, St. Louis captain David Backes knows what to expect — namely, the time-honored tradition of comparing the current U.S. team to the Miracle on Ice squad from the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid.
That said, Backes would like to see one thing change.
“I think the Miracle obviously is a great accomplishment for the U.S., but it was 34 years ago, and we’re still living on something that happened 34 years ago,” Backes said, per the Associated Press. “As great as it was, and as awesome an accomplishment, I think the guys here would like to write our own chapter, and then we can talk about ’80 and 2014.”
While there’ll never be another Miracle team — especially with NHLers in the Olympic fold — Backes’ sentiment is understood. He wants this current team to make history and become just the third American squad to win gold at the Olympics, joining the 1980 team and the one that won it all in 1960 at Squaw Valley.
But make no mistake, this current U.S. squad has no aspirations of being the plucky underdog that stuns the world. The Americans are headed into Sochi as one of the pre-tourney favorites, and expect to win it all.
“Our goal is to go over there and win gold this time around,” head coach Dan Bylsma said over the weekend.
GM David Poile, the architect of the team (unable to be in Sochi because of injury) said the Americans are battle-tested, talented and ready to compete. He alluded to this being the deepest U.S. team ever during the selection process and, as a result, the stakes are the highest he can remember.
“We’ve got guys that have played in very big situations, a lot of pressure situations, hostile environments,” Poile said, prior to the tournament. “When the lights are the brightest, these guys have excelled.
“We’re excited about our opportunity and our chances in Sochi.”