I was 13 when Communism fell. If you're in your 20s or younger it's tough to have any conception of the Cold War. I don't remember feeling any type of red scare, but I do remember in the 80s Americans rooted against the U.S.S.R. in the Olympics as a matter of course.
I used to picture the Soviet athletes training like Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, in an evil looking gym surrounded by evil looking people with emotionless expressions. Eighteen years later I'm questioning whether I'm going to be able to root for the United States against Russia wholeheartedly. Whereas once Soviet players were viewed as robots and the North Americans had the monopoly on emotion, Don “Johnny Weir asked if you can tone it down with the clothes” Cherry blasted Ovechkin for his exuberance.
Hockey Glasnost for me began in 1990, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Sergei Fedorov defected to the United States during the Goodwill Games in Seattle, as the legend goes swayed by a Corvette catalog. Sergei Makarov was allowed to join the NHL the year before at the age of 31, winning the Calder, as was Igor Larionov at 28 and others, but that wasn't cloack and dagger. Alexander Mogilny defected in 1989 as well, but didn't make as much of an immediate impact. The thought of this elite two way center being drawn to a marquee team by one of Detroit's finest automobiles, finishing 2nd in Calder voting as a 20 year old, and helping a Detroit team make the playoffs that had the third worst record in the league the year before is a story you pass down.
I look at the Russians as the Brazilian soccer team of hockey, like they make hockey the beautiful game. And can you imagine anyone but Russia's best player wearing these skates? I'm certainly rooting for the United States to win gold, but I'm finding myself following the Russian hockey team closer than any other Olympic storyline. Hell, I named this blog after a book by Karl Marx. I'll be up tonight at 2 A.M. watching them take on the Slovakian team assembled by general manager Peter Bondra, another team which Capitals fans should have no trouble rooting for.
Miscellaneous: Washington is raising their ticket prices by an average of 32%, but were only 21st in average ticket prices this year… Mike Milbury continues to say everything negative possible about Ovechkin, I'll have more on this later… When Ovechkin wins the Hart this year, he'll join Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr as the only players to win three straight. Absurd… Backstrom became the sixth player to notch 50 assists in each of his first three seasons joining Gretzky, Dale Hawerchuk, Mario Lemieux, Peter Stastny, and Evgeni Malkin… I'm picking Russia for gold, Sweden for silver, and Canada for bronze…
About the Author
Written by Ryan Cleaver
Ryan Cleaver was born in Björk’s house in Iceland and grew up on Easter Island, where his parents were giant stone heads. He has the ability to fire beams of tacos out of his hands and he can turn his legs into tigers. On Sundays, Ryan enjoys reading Family Circus and traveling through time. His favorite color is greenish-transparent and his favorite movie is the one you just watched.