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Russians blame loss to Team USA on ref, protest at American embassy

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Russia fans protest

Fans protest hockey referee Brad Meier outside the U.S. embassy in Russia. (Voroshirin Dmitriy, Young Guards/AP)

By Allan Muir

For all their differences, hockey fans around the world share one core belief: the officials are out to get their team.

That usually leads to catcalls at the rink and disparaging remarks online, but a Russian protest of referee Brad Meier took that sense of persecution to a whole new level.

Russian hockey journalist Igor Eronko tweeted a photo this morning of an anti-Meier protest sign being held up by picketers at the American Embassy in Moscow. Eronko said that the message roughly translated as Meier needs glasses, “but more rude.” Read More…


  • Published On Feb 17, 2014
  • Live blogging Team USA vs. Slovakia at Sochi

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    Paul Stastny of Team USA

    Paul Stastny scored twice as Team USA launched an offensive onslaught in the first two periods. (AP)

    By Allan Muir

    Final Score: Team USA 7 Slovakia 1

    Team USA scored on four consecutive shots in the second period on the way to a 7-1 win over Slovakia in the opener for both teams at the Sochi Games. The Americans took advantage of a passive Slovak defense, breaking down their trap by getting pucks deep, winning board battles and dominating on the cycle to create a series of high-end scoring chances.

    Read More…


  • Published On Feb 13, 2014
  • Key storylines heading into USA vs. Slovakia

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    quick-parise

    Was it the right decision for Dan Bylsma to start Jonathan Quick at goal over Ryan Miller? (Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    THE GAME: 
    USA vs. Slovakia in the Group A opener; 7:30 eastern on NBCSN in the U.S. and CBC in Canada. We’ll be live-blogging the game here at 7:30 AM eastern.

    Upset potential: After a stunning silver medal win in Vancouver, the Americans won’t catch anyone by surprise in Sochi…but the Slovakians just might. A team that’s trotting out Branko Radivojevic and Tomas Kopecky on its second line clearly can’t match the depth of Team USA, but this team comes in with an emotional edge. The death of 2010 leading scorer Pavol Demitra in a 2011 plane crash continues to resonate with this group and they’ll be looking to honor him with their performance. Marian Hossa and Zdeno Chara are a handful on a regular day. With thoughts of Demitra in their hearts, they could be miraculous.

    Read More…


  • Published On Feb 12, 2014
  • Zach Parise named captain of Team USA for Sochi Olympics

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    Zach Parise of the Minnesota Wild

    Healthy and on his game, Zach Parise will swap his A for a C in Sochi. (Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    It’s been a pretty good week for Zach Parise. He’s healthy again after missing time with a broken foot. He’s in the middle of a ridiculous hot stretch, scoring three goals and seven points in his past two games. And today, the Wild star was named captain of the U.S. men’s hockey team for the upcoming Winter Games in Sochi.

    “Number one, to be named to the team is awesome,” Parise said. “But it’s a special thing to be named captain. I know a majority of the guys wear a letter with their own team and there are going to be plenty of guys capable of doing it.”

    Parise doesn’t wear the C with the Wild, but that wasn’t an issue for coach Dan Byslma. “He plays exactly the way we want Team USA to play. He has a work ethic, a never-quit determination, an abrasiveness. And it’s every time, regardless of score or situation.”

    Parise was a beast for the U.S. at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, tying for the team lead with eight points and scoring one of the most dramatic goals in American hockey history.

    Ryan Suter, Parise’s teammate in Minnesota, and the Kings’ Dustin Brown were named as Team USA’s alternate captains.


  • Published On Jan 31, 2014
  • IOC forces U.S. goalie to remove Constitution from mask for Sochi

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    Part of goalie mask IOC forced Team USA goalie Jessie Vetter to remove.

    The offending part of goaltender Jessie Vetter’s helmet. (Courtesy of InGoal Magazine)

    By Allan Muir

    A goalie for the U.S. Olympic women’s hockey team was forced to repaint her new mask this week to remove a representation of the U.S. Constitution from the back plate.

    According to InGoal Magazine, the changes were forced on Jessie Vetter by the International Olympic Committee.

    “No writing of any kind to promote the country is allowed,” artist Ron Slater told InGoal. “[The IOC frowns upon] any sort of ‘our country is better than your country’ kind of thing. Our original idea was ‘land of the free, home of the brave,’ and that would have had to have been removed as well.”

    Vetter also had to remove the Olympic rings from the chin and her last name from the back plate because the IOC saw it as “self promotion,” Slater said. “They want everything to be team based.”

    Read More…


  • Published On Jan 16, 2014
  • First look: Sochi Olympic hockey will live in lights and ice domes

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    Bolshoy

    Bolshoy Ice Dome: The colorful facades of Sochi’s hockey arenas will have a party feel. (Sochi 2014)

    By Tim Newcomb

    Tucked within the cozy “coastal cluster” of venues for the Winter Games in the Russian resort town of Sochi, the Bolshoy Ice Dome and the Shayba Arena — the two homes for hockey during the Olympics — sit less than 1,000 feet from each other. American fans will first need to get a touch more familiar with the smaller Shayba, at least during the preliminary rounds.

    Shayba, which means “puck” in Russian, is more than just a clever name, it was also the inspiration for the arena’s architectural design. Its blue-gray roof is meant to evoke movement as colors travel around the side of the cylindrical-shaped building. Shayba holds 7,000 fans and will host five of USA Hockey’s first six contests.

    MORE: Check out Tim Newcomb’s look at all Sochi venues | All 12 men’s rosters by group

    Read More…


  • Published On Jan 09, 2014
  • Grading the rosters of the Sochi Olympic gold medal contenders

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    Sidney Crosby drives the net against Ryan Miller and Team USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

    Digging for gold: Sidney Crosby (87) and the Canadians are the team to beat in Sochi. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

    By Sam Page

    Now that the Olympic rosters we care about have been announced (sorry, Latvia and you other seven), it’s time to decide who has the best chance to unseat the defending gold medal juggernaut that is Team Canada.

    If there’s a single thread running through all of the roster selections, it’s the over-thinking of the change in ice size. The 2010 Olympics were, of course, played on Vancouver’s standard NHL-sized 85-foot wide by 200-foot long rink, but this year’s games will go down on the 100′ x 200′ surface of the Bolshoy Ice Dome.

    Teams from European countries where the big ice is standard seem to perceive this venue as a natural advantage and have forsaken some proven, and more rugged, NHL talent in favor of swifter players from their native leagues. Team USA also avoided some of the slower skaters in its talent pool. And while some of the speed picks made sense, some teams’ management occasionally cut better players (see: Bobby Ryan) in favor of those who will offer mostly small stylistic gains on the bigger surface.

    Here are top four contenders’ rosters, graded for overall talent and efficacy of construction:

    Read More…


  • Published On Jan 08, 2014
  • Team USA’s GM tries apology to Bobby Ryan, deserves blame for Burke mess

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    Team USA GM David Poile is trying to apologize to Bobby Ryan for harsh comments made by Brian Burke.

    David Poile is in the blunt assessment business, so why is he shocked by what Brian Burke said? (Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Hockey smart, but media-savvy? Hardly.

    How else to characterize USA Hockey officials, and Team USA general manager David Poile in particular, in the wake of a Friday morning press conference that exposed just how little thought was given to a plan that allowed media access to the group’s Olympic roster selection meetings?

    That access blew up in their faces when Brian Burke’s blunt assessments of Senators forward Bobby Ryan became a bigger story than the makeup of the team itself.

    “The problem, and the communication breakdown that we had, was we thought this was similar to the HBO 24/7 situation where we [would have] editorial review on what was going to be [printed],” Poile explained. “It caught all of us off guard.

    “That’s on us. It’s a little bit of a breakdown.”

    A little bit of a breakdown. As far as explanations go, that’s pretty Costanza-esque.

    MUIR: USA’s All-Snubbed Team | Ryan calls Burke “gutless” for remarks

    Read More…


  • Published On Jan 03, 2014
  • Bobby Ryan: Team USA’s Brian Burke “gutless” after Sochi Olympics snub

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    Brian Burke of Team USA was called gutless by Bobby Ryan.

    The famously blunt Brian Burke has reached out to Bobby Ryan, but not heard back. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Bobby Ryan says that he felt all along that there wasn’t a place for him on Team USA for the Sochi Games, and that he believed he’d be the odd man out when the roster was announced after Wednesday’s Winter Classic.

    What he didn’t expect was to be humiliated, essentially in public, by his old boss.

    Brian Burke, Team USA’s director of player personnel, and the man who drafted Ryan with the No. 2 pick in 2005, was quoted extensively in Scott Burnside’s piece detailing the process that went into selecting the American roster. The debates that were captured over various players were honest, and not always flattering, and Burke was particularly frank in his assessment of Ryan’s shortcomings.

    MUIR:  Why Team USA’s GM deserves blame for the Ryan snub mess

    He apparently made it clear early on that he could not support selecting Ryan, a player he’d chosen four years earlier to represent the U.S.A. in Vancouver. Among his choice arguments against selecting the Senators sniper:

    Read More…


  • Published On Jan 02, 2014
  • Team USA blows chance for gold medal repeat at World Junior Championship

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    By Allan Muir

    Team USA won’t be coming home from the 2014 World Junior Championship with another gold medal.

    A 5-3 loss to Russia in Thursday morning’s quarterfinal eliminated the defending champs. It made for a disappointing end to a tournament that saw the Americans get off to a 3-0 start before consecutive losses to their biggest rivals, Canada and Russia, sent them packing without a chance to compete for a medal.

    Here are a few quick observations from the contest:

    • As coach Don Lucia said after the game, “The guys gave us everything they have. Other than 10 minutes of this tournament, we played the way I hoped we would play.”

    Fair enough, but that 10-minute lapse highlights how unforgiving this tournament is, and why it is so damn hard to win once, let alone repeat. The U.S. knew coming in that discipline would be critical, but they handed the Russians six power play chances, including consecutive five-on-threes in the second period that turned the tide of the game. With the Americans up 3-2, Sabres draft pick Nikita Zadorov struck twice for Russia and that was pretty much the game.

    Read More…


  • Published On Jan 02, 2014


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