The fact that the US possession as an international power has been dealt a severe blow over the past year is irrefutable. This emerging, still unfamiliar reality will soon come before us to the full. While the prestige of America is falling in the eyes of its partners, Russia and other states are benefiting from what they can.
This sinister analysis is based on nothing else than the men's Olympic hockey tournament, which will begin on Wednesday, February 14, when the United States will meet with the Slovenian team, and Russia competes with Slovakia in the first two matches of the first round. Two-time Olympic champions Americans already have the experience of historic movements behind them at the most appropriate time. However, their status as an applicant for medals almost disappeared due to a controversial decision last spring.
Since 1998, players with contracts with the National Hockey League (NHL) were to participate in the Olympics, as the league makes a voluntary two-week break in the middle of its regular season. For its part, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) invoices for insurance, travel, and other additional expenses required to bring NHL players from North America to the Olympics and back. This eight-valued price tag, however, has become unbearable for the IOC. Last spring, the organization reported to the NHL, the largest professional sports organization, whose annual income is up to $ 4 billion, which will no longer pay for the flight of players.
Add this to the reluctance of the NHL to violate its schedule every few years, and you can easily understand that the term of this 20-year experiment in international competitions has expired. The NHL Players Association criticized the decision of the league. Loyalty fans, especially those who are keenly aware of the popularity of this sport, will be mortally upset if they fail to see how the Canadian Sidney Crosby gets a chance to win a third consecutive gold medal, or as the brilliant Californian Auston Matthews, regularly scoring goals for the Toronto Maple Leafs team (Toronto Maple Leafs), stands for the US team. These games will especially upset Russian Alexander Ovechkin, the best hockey player of his generation, who will not get a chance to fix a bad performance in his native land of Sochi,
But the decision of the NHL probably destroyed the chances of Americans to gold. Such hockey countries such as Russia and Canada, as well as Scandinavian powers Sweden and Finland, do not lack a talented player: This is not inscribed in the DNA of their citizens. However, this is not the case in the US, whose worn-out list of players is full of veterans of the NHL, whose time has long, failed players who failed to meet expectations, and young players who had not yet shown themselves. Team captain Brian Gionta was a star at Boston College, where he once scored five goals in one period before playing 15 seasons in the NHL. Defender Matt Gilroy led the University of Boston to the National Championship in 2009 and won the Hobey Baker Prize - as a prize Heisman, but in university hockey.
In the list of players, there are talented and experienced, and they are just fewer than in past years. That the best goalkeeper was never on the NHL list, and he had to be invited from the team in Russia eloquently testified about the deplorable state of the team and its chances of gold. Just think: some countries collect their national teams and spend several months coordinating training and developing potential tactics on the ice. When the Americans oppose Slovenia, their joint training will be about six hours. Some countries collect their national teams and spend several months coordinating training and developing potential tactics on the ice. When the Americans oppose Slovenia, their joint training will be about six hours.
While America makes mistake after mistake, the Russians - or, more precisely, the "Olympic athletes from Russia" as they were technically called because of IOC punishments in response to accusations of mass doping - are gaining ground. They have the highest chances of gold, and any other achievements will be the next link in a chain of discouraging disappointments. But even without hacking hacks of the GPS devices of their opponents, the Russians will not have any problems paving the way to gold.
If it is possible to compare the current geopolitical affairs, we know how everything will turn out. The Russians will use cause means to demonstrate their superiority over all rivals, placing their stakes on their talent and determination in their struggle against competitors. The Americans will compete in each competition with confidence in their historical pedigree but lag in actual performance by a couple of steps. Then, I will be surprised at what point it all went wrong. The most revealing test can occur on Saturday when the United States and Russia converge on ice. The US team will likely have at least a draw to go to the next round, so it must fully demonstrate all the preserved belief in exclusivity. The full title hope of the US may be that Olympic hockey, in its best form, is better than its version in the NHL. There is a larger ice rink and minor but important rule discrepancies. Watching international hockey is a pleasure; it's a reckless exercise in precise passes and teamwork. But a little luck will not hurt, of course.
In Pyeongchang, the most controversial - and, as the Americans hope, the most unpredictable - games for the whole generation must take place. The US, among other things, knows what it takes to show miracles on the ice when required.