World Cup Preview: Team U.S.A.
August 12, 2004
For the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, most countries will go with a mix of young and old, but no country will go with as much "old" as Team
The last World Cup was back in 1996 - some eight years ago - and this year's
Returning from the '96 team are some of the best players the United States have ever produced including Mike Modano, Bill Guerin, Doug Weight, Keith Tkachuk, Brett Hull, Tony Amonte, Bryan Smolinski, Steve Konawalchuk and Brian Rolston.
|Brett Hull is back on the US squad.
Hull led all players in goals with seven, and points with 11 and, while he may be eight years older now, he is still one of the best pure goal scorers in the game today.
Doug Weight finished tied for third in tournament scoring with seven points, while Keith Tkachuk was second only to Hull in goals with five and Mike Modano and Tony Amonte each finished with six points in seven games. Each will again be heavily leaned on for this year's edition of the tournament.
On defence, the
Brian Leetch, Chris Chelios and Derian Hatcher are all returnees from the '96 team and have proven that if you work at it, age is not an issue. At 42, Chelios played 69 games for the Red Wings this season and collected 21 points, 61 penalty minutes and was a +12.
Chelios' teammate Mathieu Schneider was also named to the team, but pulled out because of his uncertain contract status. His 14 goals and 46 points from the back end this past season will be missed, but what they lose in offence, they gain in muscle with his replacement; Hal Gill. At 6-7, and 250 lbs, Gill is an imposing figure and played all 82 games for the Bruins this past season, scoring twice and finishing with a +16 rating.
Also on the point is another Red Wing D-man; Derian Hatcher. Despite missing most of the year recovering from knee surgery, he picked up four points in 15 games and was a +8 when he returned.
| Brian Leetch is back on the blueline for Team USA.
(Dave Sandford/Getty Images/NHLI)
Brian Leetch meanwhile donned a jersey other than that of the New York Rangers for the first time in his career when he was traded to the Maple Leafs at the deadline. Leetch finished the year with 15 goals and 51 points while playing 72 games.
The biggest change for the '04
Mike Richter; who was perhaps the biggest reason the US won eight years ago, retired after suffering another concussion. Guy Hebert hasn't been heard from in almost four years, while Jim Carey hasn't played in the NHL since he played four games for the Blues in the '98-'99 season.
This year's trio of goalies is made up of Robert Esche, Ty Conklin, and Rick Dipietro. Esche was a big part of the Flyers run to the Eastern Conference Finals, but will be recovering from offseason hip surgery. Conklin established himself as the No. 1 guy in
Dipietro meanwhile has been the "next great" goalie for a few years now, and until this past season hadn't really shown it. He finished the '03-'04 season with a 23-18-and-5 record in a career high 50 games.
Rounding out the roster will be most of the
On defence, the newcomers include Ken Klee, Aaron Miller, Jordan Leopold, and Brian Rafalski.
With 17 of the 23 American skaters 30 or older, you can look at this team as old ... or experienced. Either way, the