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  • IIHF Top 100 Stories of the Century

    Posted by simon c on 2008 May 18日 Sunday

    Ahead of the Centennial Ice Hockey World Championship final to be played later today, the 1980 Miracle on Ice was announced as the #1 story on their international hockey stories of the century list.

    The win didn’t change the landscape of the game right away. It was a shocking and unexpected victory, but more importantly, it inspired a generation of American kids to play the game. When USA won its next important international event, the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, almost every player on that team pointed to the Miracle on Ice game as their inspiration for wanting to play hockey.

    In time, the win also assured the international community that America would be part of the top nations. In the 1976 Canada Cup, for instance, the roster was a who’s who of minor leaguers and collegians. Soon after 1980, that never happened again. 

    This game was and remains the greatest moment in international hockey because of its impact at the time and its continued impact over time. For 20 college players to defeat a team that trained year round and won virtually every game it played before and after truly is, in a sporting sense, a miracle. There is no other word for it. 

    That this miracle became something lasting and enduring makes it all the more significant. The greater miracle is that it took a nation with nothing more than a mild interest in the game and made it into a world powerhouse that can today beat any other great nation on any given day. There have been greater teams which have accomplished greater feats over greater periods of time in international hockey, but there is only one game, one team, one moment, that can truly be called a miracle. And nothing can outclass a miracle. Nothing.

    And the IIHF also announced the Centennial All-Star Team. The list is Soviet heavy with Tretiak, Fetisov, Salming, Kharlamov, Makarov, and Gretzky. Methinks the voters were weighed towards Europeans, but then again this is an All-Star team for international hockey, and the Soviets dominated international play, so maybe it’s right. It’s interesting that Gretzky’s contributions in the Canada Cup is counted considering it was not an IIHF sanctioned event. But then again, IIHF was not obtuse enough to ignore the great impact the Summit Series and the Canada Cups had on international hockey, even if they were not officially sanctioned events.

    The six members of the All-Star Team are:

    Goaltender: Vladislav Tretiak (Russia)
    First Defenceman: Vyacheslav Fetisov (Russia)
    Second Defenceman: Borje Salming (Sweden)
    First Winger: Valeri Kharlamov (Russia)
    Second Winger: Sergei Makarov (Russia)
    Centre: Wayne Gretzky (Canada)

    The panel comprised 56 ice hockey experts from 16 countries representing a balance between North American and European countries, and included people who have worked in the game for an extended period and whose opinions are universally respected. One of the 56 votes represented the collective opinion of the staff of The Hockey News.

    Tretiak received 30 votes, Fetisov 54, Salming 17, Kharlamov 21, Makarov 18, and Gretzky 38.

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