After David Poile suffered a major eye injury that kept him from going to Sochi, Pittsburgh’s Ray Shero handled Team USA GM duties at the Winter Olympics.
What Shero saw, he says, is one of the greatest teams of all time.
“The credit has to go to Canada,” Shero explained, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “That might be the greatest Olympic hockey team ever.”
The numbers have been mentioned several times, but bear repeating: Canada went a perfect 6-0-0 and never trailed at the tournament. It outscored opponents 17-3, out-shot opponents 241-129 and racked up 120 minutes of combined shutout hockey against the U.S. in the semifinals and Sweden in the final.
Historically speaking, this put Canada in a conversation with other powerhouses. In 1984, the Soviet Union went a perfect 8-0 en route to winning gold, outscoring opponents 58-6. In 1960, the Americans went 7-0 while outscoring opponents 48-17. Canada’s last gold medal-winning team in the non-NHL era, the 1952 club that won gold in Oslo, went 7-0-1 and outscored opponents 71-14.
But since NHL participation began at Nagano ’98, the Olympics haven’t seen this kind of domination in any way, shape or form.
— In ’98, the Czechs won gold after losing to Russia in the opening round.
— In ’02, the Canadians lost to Sweden and tied the Czechs before getting hot and winning gold.
— In ’06, Sweden was bombed 5-0 by Russia, then was accused of “throwing” a 3-0 loss to Slovakia… before winning it all.
— In ’10, Canada lost to the U.S. and went to a shootout with Switzerland prior to capturing gold.
So it’s easy to see why Shero said what he said. Though, to be fair, he wasn’t willing to concede the Canadians were untouchable in Sochi, alluding to their tight 1-0 defeat of the U.S. in the semifinals.
“We had great group of guys,” he explained. “It’s not so much a negative about Americans, how we played.
“Canada scored one goal.”