I burst out laughing when I read Mark Spector's article in the National Post about Ron Wilson, the new coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The article (which you can find here http://www.nationalpost.com/sports/story.html?id=575459) recounts how, in trying to motivate Tony Amonte in the 1996 World Cup, Ron Wilson exhorted him to be Team U.S.A.'s "Paul Henderson." And Amonte's response? "Who the hell is Paul Henderson?"
The article goes on to decry an apparent lack of appreciation for hockey history among Americans. I'm not sure that I agree with this premise. Americans do appreciate hockey history, they just define it narrowly to mean U.S. hockey history.
I learned this first hand when my wife and I first visited the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto four years ago. My wife was keen to see the display dedicated to the U.S. victory over the Soviets in the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid. She was apoplectic over the relatively few items--a Team U.S.A. jersey and a couple of other baubles--on display. "But. but, but it was the Miracle on Ice!" she stammered indignantly. "They have a whole movie theater built around that stupid Canada/Soviet series from 1972 and all the Miracle on Ice gets is this? This is ridiculous," she fumed.
My wife didn't buy my argument that the 1980 Olympic victory was really no big deal because Canada didn't send professionals to the Olympics back then. The Canadian team was made up of fourth-rate scrubs. Basically, the U.S. gold was a minor victory at best. My wife remains unconvinced. She still thinks that the U.S. victory over the Soviets in the 1980 Olympics is one of the greatest moments in hockey history. My response? "Miracle on Ice," my ass.