So often do we forget how the bar was set for the team at Lake Placid. Twenty years and five Games earlier, the boys of the Red, White, and Blue (not to be confused with the slightly more contemporary bleu, blanc, et rouge) made a mark that was talked about for quite some time. Led by the talents of forwards Bill Cleary, John Mayasich, brothers Bill and Roger Christian (the former being the father of 1980 Gold medalist Dave), and goaltenders Jack McCartan and Malden, MA native son and West Point cadet Lawrence “Larry” Palmer, the US did not disappoint as the hosts of the Games and festivities, beating out the Soviets and Canadians in close contests to bring home the bacon, despite some shadows of doubt when trailing the Soviets 2-1 after a closely contested first period. But to quote one of my favorite movies as a child, Chicken Run (by the creators of Wallace and Gromit),
‘You see, flying takes three things. Hard work, perseverance and… hard work!’ ‘You said hard work TWICE!’ ‘That’s because it takes twice as much work as perseverance.’
For you see, success at a high level and at a ubitquitous stage is much like taking flight – You must be determined and spread your wings while other forces are trying to hold you down. The USA simply wanted it more and loudly declared their status as top dogs for the whole world to hear.
Mr. Palmer recently wrote a letter to my father Jay in recognition of his fantastic high school hockey memoir, Ice Time: A Tale of Fathers, Sons, and Hometown Heroes. Palmer, who now lives in Switzerland after a very lucrative banking career, said that the stories within the pages truly filled him with emotion and brought back great memories of the days playing shinny on the ponds just north of Boston. I’ve expressed my firm belief that this sport unifies better than any other about a million times, but this just further shows the sort of universal connection all its participants have with one another. For such a violent activity, there is quite the harmony within, and that’s something that very few on the outside can comprehend. I’m thankful that Mr. Palmer reminded me of that and I hope the kids that will pick up the game in the future have the same understanding, enjoying the winters of their youths.