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Worth the Wait in Gold

By John King, 02/27/18, 10:15PM CST


Twenty years is a long time, so let’s take ten victory laps.

U-S-A! U-S-A!

If one week ago today you were shouting at a television screen at approximately 2 a.m., this article is for you. Consider this your own personal U.S. Women’s Gold Medal Hockey victory lap, or more precisely, ten victory laps. Remember when the Vikings gave us the “Minnesota Miracle,” and it seemed the entire week following was designed for the sole purpose of providing us with the discovery of one joyous piece of content after another, reminding us of the victory? Well, we hope this column can do something similar, allowing us all to bask fully in the golden glow of female hockey supremacy.   

Twenty years. Ten wonderful things:

1. The Golden Child

How many times did you hear the announcers say that U.S. goaltender Maddie Rooney was just eight months old when the U.S. team last won gold at the 1998 games in Nagano? At first, I thought it was just sort of cute, but the more I thought about it—does this mean Maddie Rooney was sent to us just for this moment? Was Maddie Rooney discovered as a mysterious child in an Andover cornfield? Were the locals shocked and awed when Maddie Rooney, at the tender age of six, lifted up the back end of a Zamboni by herself to help change a flat tire? Is this some elite goaltender version of the Butterfly Effect? Did Dominic Hasek have a DeLorean that went 88 miles-per-hour? Are there cornfields in Andover? So many questions, but it’s okay—because Maddie Rooney is always the answer.

2. The “Oops, I did it Again”

While technically Britney Spears’ single didn’t come out until a few years after Nagano, apparently Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson’s absolutely filthy shootout winner was named after the singer’s 2000 single. Based on a drill where Lamoureux would stickhandle around a tire with coach Peter Elander, “Oops, I did it again” was something Lamoureux had been perfecting for the better part of six years. The result was glorious! Have you ever seen a goalie get shaken out of her skates more? That move was nuclear; all that was left on the ice after that goal was the goalie’s shadow, small intestine, and spinal column.  And it also taught us a valuable lesson on honing your craft with this beauty of a quote from old coach Elander: “In this generation, young people who don’t know how to do things correctly, they don’t want to do it. If it takes a long time to perfect something, they don’t have the patience to do it. The Lamoureux sisters are outliers in that group. If they see something hard, they see it as a challenge to improve it. To be able to be not good at something, then work yourself into perfection at it, is almost a lost quality in today’s society.” The best part of that quote . . .Elander gets to sound like the grumpy old man instead of me!

3. Twinsies!

I must say it’s not getting nearly enough coverage that the equalizer goal for the U.S. was also scored by a Lamoureux sister, Jocelyne’s twin Monique Lamoureux-Morando. That’s right—the United States has two identical twin sisters from North Dakota who helped us bully our way back to gold. These girls are like the female version of Dally and Darry in The Outsiders—a pair of dominating twin sisters who shave their legs with bowie knives. How cool is that? What do we need to do to get some totally busted vintage early ‘90s posters made of these two? The posters could be titled the predictable “Twin Towers,” the beautifully blasphemous “Lams of God,” or even the regionally appealing  “Dakota Duo.” Regardless, every girl age 3 to 12 should have a poster of the Lamoureux sisters hanging above her bed as she falls asleep. Like for real, this needs to happen.  

Lamoureux + Lamoureux = Gold

4. First-Class Delivery   

While we’re on the topic of nostalgia, @USPS, please expedite the creation of the “Oops, I did it Again” shootout winner postage stamp. If Peter Forsberg has a postage stamp in Sweden for his “dead-arm” shootout winner in 1994, and even our own Mikael Granlund has a postage stamp for his lacrosse-style tally from the world championships, it’s an absolute must that Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson’s heroics be forever commemorated in a postage stamp. I need this stamp for my Christmas cards next year.  

First Class Deke!

5. #BeBoldForChange

In a year with so many social and cultural forces being buoyed by strong women, what a storybook ending for a team that only a year ago nearly boycotted the World Championships to secure wage equality for their sport.  While the gold medal was an amazing moment, what this team did for young women all around the world will go down in history as far more important. This team has not only demonstrated that drive and determination can get you atop the podium every four years; they’ve shown that they can help you be the change in the world you seek. The 2018 U.S. Women’s Olympic hockey team is a powerful group both on and off the ice. A group that I believe will inspire another generation of fierce competitors and change makers. I had to laugh thinking of these world-changing women when a hockey dad sent me a text the day after they won gold that simply read, “USED TO BE YOU TELL YOUR DAUGHTER TO MARRY A GOOD HOCKEY PLAYER. NOW I’M TELLING MY SON TO LATCH ONTO A GOOD U-12.”

Group text gold!

6. Group Text Glory

Those of us old enough can remember the arrival of email. I recall I had to visit the Boston College library to use it because email was only available on a couple of designated machines. You waited in line for it. And I graduated in 1996! Then came social media and smart phones, and the rest is history. Well, ironically the greatest technological gift to modern sports is actually a fairly analog invention: the group text. If you haven’t established a rock-solid group text for all of your favorite teams and events, you are not living your best life as a sports fan. For the USA v. Canada instant classic, my group text was called “20 Years til Gold,” with the gold medal emoji. If hockey players have the sanctity and solidarity of “The Room,” hockey fans have something similar with the group text. Consider on gold-medal Wednesday just a few nuggets from my own legendary group text:

  • Early in the game, I may or may not have mentioned that I thought Maddie Rooney was the “weak link” of our team. It is unlikely I will ever live this ice-cold-take and ill-advised heat-of-the-moment comment down. In fact, it’s quite likely the next time I look at my group text, it will have been renamed JOHN KING IS THE WEAKEST LINK. I should expect at least four years of ridicule.

  • Roll call. Another great Group Text tradition is just to randomly request roll call, which requires every member of the thread to show his or her face or risk losing status. A timely roll call can also reveal who is still awake at the end of a critical gold-medal game.

  • A long debate about how women should: a) be allowed to check; b) wear visors; and c) go helmets-off for the shootout.  

Roll Call!

7. The Last of the Power Forwards

How enjoyable is it to watch Hilary Knight and to know your team has the biggest and strongest player? Am I the only one who starts making video game noises when I see Knight play? She sticks out like the power forwards of the Derian Hatcher-era NHL. She is bigger, stronger and better than everyone else on the ice. If Team USA put Hilary Knight on waivers, Brian Burke would claim her for the Flames. She’s dark-alley tough, and completely high skilled. Knight is cut from the Tkachuk, Lindros, Neely, Getzlaf, and Benn mold. She’s an absolute beast, and I couldn’t be happier she’s on our team.  

8. I Can’t See Kendall Coyne

While we’re on the topic of the X-Men mutants on Team USA, we have to mention our own personal Dash from the Incredibles, little Kendall Coyne. I’d like to personally thank Kendall for reintroducing me to the rocket emoji. Kendall Coyne is so fast that watching her play has made me more impatient in the rest of my life. I’ve started listening to podcasts at 1.5x speed, and I am considering buying a pair of those Heelys shoes with the wheels in them, if they make a size 12.

So much propaganda, so little time.

9. Bald Eagles and Stuff

Another benefit Olympic hockey has over NHL, college, or high school is the plethora of U.S. propaganda that’s just a cut-and-paste away. This is also quite useful for the aforementioned group text. The math is quite simple. USA does something good = send USA stuff. USA wins = send USA stuff. Remembering the historic gold-medal victory a week later = send USA stuff. Know a Canadian = send USA stuff.  And there is so much glorious USA propaganda to choose from. Trump running a 40-yard dash in the combine. Check! Kerri Strug sticking the landing. Check! Bald Eagle flying with an apple pie in its mouth. Check! U-S-A. U-S-A. U-S-A.

10. Stand for the Anthem

Lastly, a really underrated aspect of winning Olympic Gold (even at close to 3 a.m. on the East Coast) is sticking it out the extra 20 minutes, and no matter where you are, standing up and putting your hand over your heart to belt out the anthem. This, my friends, is a sports moment unparalleled. So, thank you, ladies, for that opportunity. See you in four years! Or, I hope, sooner—on a postage stamp on my Christmas cards, Wheaties box in my pantry, and poster on the walls of my two kids and five nieces and nephews. It’s your world; we’re all just living in it.

Coming Soon

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