Monday, February 23, 2009

Do You Still Believe in Miracles?

Anyone who took a few minutes to watch Ron MacLean and CBC's coverage of Hockey Day in Canada this weekend could not have helped but notice how a game and a network can unite a nation.

Broadcasting from the "headwaters of hockey" on the Restigouche River in Campbellton, New Brunswick, the personable MacLean flawlessly captured the essence of hockey in the Canadian soul. Coinciding with the World Pond Hockey championship in nearby Plaster Rock, this was New Brunswick's weekend on the hockey map as Campbellton pulled out all the stops to make the weekend of February 20-21 something that will be frozen forever in a treasure chest of memories.

On a very basic level, hockey allows Canadians to gather at a local arena and just be Canadian. On a more profound level, in a geographically enormous, but thinly populated country, hockey has been one of the few common threads in the tapestry of a nation. It doesn’t matter if you grew up in British Columbia or Newfoundland, hockey has touched us in some way.

And for decades, MacLean and those who have come before him at the CBC have played a significant role in seamlessly knitting Canadians together.

Have you ever noticed you can just mention a year to most Canadians and it becomes synonymous with a great moment in hockey.


Last time the Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup, ousting Montreal in six games.


Team Canada comes back to knock off the Soviet Union as Paul Henderson scores with 34 seconds left in Moscow.

And ironically enough, this is the day after the night before in 1980, when a team of amateur and collegiate players pulled off what may have been THE monumental sports upset of all time.

Sports Illustrated voted it the greatest sports moment of the twentieth century.

February 22, 1980.

Lake Placid, New York.

The United States Olympic team derails a juggernaut known as Soviet Red Army.

"You've got ten seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow, up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”

There is hardly a Canadian around at the time who didn't share in the pride of the U.S. accomplishment as coach Herb Brooks led his team to Olympic glory. The Soviets entered the Olympic tournament as heavy favorites, having won every ice hockey gold medal since 1964, and all but one gold medal since 1956. Though classed as amateurs, the USSR skaters were paid professionals and featured international stars such as Boris Mikhailov, Valeri Kharlamov,Viacheslav Fetisov and the best goaltender in the world at the time, the incomparable Vladislav Tretiak.

However, it was Brooks who demanded his team of amateur unknowns forge steely resolve on the anvil of discipline, developing a code of accountability and a "team before self" spirit that ultimately made the difference.

On a personal and professional level, how many lessons can be drawn from this game played by kids of all ages?

And if a game and a network can bring nations and continents together, are there commonalities from these resources that can seamlessly link other teams and families - both at work and at home?

How will you make miracles happen on your team?

"We are the coldest country on earth. And everyone except the children want to deny it.Thousands of us froze our hands, our feet and our ears every day just walking to school. And where we went after school was to a cold rink to put on frozen skates to play hockey on ice. The children know what the game means. There is a time in every child’s life when he or she wants us to regain the game, to be recognized by everyone as the greatest hockey nation in the world" DAVID ADAMS RICHARDS

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