Sochi

Sid the Kid Seeks Back to Back Gold

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Whether you watch hockey or not, you’ve probably heard the name Sidney Crosby and you probably know it belongs to the NHL’s poster child. Sidney Crosby is just about as good as it gets when it comes to hockey players these days. He’s been considered by many to be the next Wayne Gretzky and for the last eight years he has gotten as close to meeting to those expectations as anyone could when compared to “The Great One”. It’s no wonder that Team Canada selected the hero of the 2010 Games to be their captain at this year’s Olympics.

Crosby’s goal is to lead Team Canada to back to back Gold Medals, something that has not been accomplished in the Olympics since Russia captured the Gold in 1984 and 1988. “Sid the Kid” is used to coming through in the clutch. He emerged as a top notch prospect at 15 when he skated for Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Fairbault, Minnesota. In one season alone, Crosby scored 72 goals and led the school to a U18 AAA national championship. From there on, he only got better.

The 26-year old was drafted first overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2005 and quickly became the face of the franchise. In his first six seasons in the NHL, Crosby won the Stanley Cup (2009), the Hart Trophy for league MVP, the Art Ross Trophy for points leader (first teenager since Gretzky in 1980), and twice garnered the Ted Lindsay Award for most outstanding player as voted on by the players’ association. He also captured the Rocket Richard and Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2010.  If not for a concussion that affected parts of two seasons and the strike shortened 2012-2013 campaign, Crosby career numbers would be even greater. (266 goals, 477 assists in 528 games.)

Crosby is no stranger to winning medals in international competition either. He won gold and silver in 2004 representing Canada at the World Junior Championships.1 To say the least, at twenty two years old, Sidney Crosby was already an extremely accomplished hockey player.

Outside of winning the Stanley Cup, Crosby’s finest moment was, arguably, the goal he scored goal in overtime of the 2010 Olympic Gold Medal game vs. the US. With Vancouver, British Columbia playing host to the international contest, there was extra pressure on Team Canada to succeed. Team USA’s Zach Parise sent the game to OT with a late third period goal, but Crosby beat goalie Ryan Miller seven minutes and 40 seconds into the extra session to set off a wild countrywide celebration.3

After being held pointless in the semi- and quarterfinal rounds Crosby, an assistant captain in his first Olympic appearance, scored four goals against Switzerland, Germany, and Team USA. His “Golden Goal” brought the Gold medal back to Canada for the first time since 2004. For most of Canada, the goal was almost too good to be true. For Sidney Crosby, it was just another goal. The always-humble Crosby later commented that “I don’t think about it that much.”4

After his performance in 2010, hockey fans around the world are watching closely to see what Captain Crosby has in store for Sochi in 2014. There’s no doubt that he’ll have an impact as the leader of the Canadian hockey squad; it’s only a matter of how memorable he’ll make the games for his home country and hockey team.

1. Penguins NHL site
2. sports-reference.com
3. Sports Illustrated
4. nbcsports.com

Alli Baker is a hockey fanatic and contributor for Designated for Assignment.  She can be reached at allibaker23@aol.com or followed on Twitter at @allibaker23

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Parise Hopes to Make US Fans Go Wild

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by Alli Baker

When people think of the stars of the National Hockey League, names like Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane come to mind. Nobody ever says “Zach Parise is one of the greatest players in the league”. That’s because Parise is one of the most underrated players in the NHL. Parise may not be a 40-goal scorer or have ridiculously impressive numbers like some of the other guys, but he brings much more to the table than just the ability to score. Parise is a highly intelligent player with the ability to protect the puck and get it in and to the net, regardless of the circumstances. Team USA knows just how much of an impact a player like Parise can have. For the past two years with Minnesota Wild, Parise has demonstrated that he can be a game-changer, and he looks to do the same at this year’s Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

Parise, the recently selected captain of Team USA has shown in the past that he’s very capable of performing on the international level. At the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Parise led Team USA with four goals, including a memorable goal scored with 24 seconds left in regulation that sent the gold medal game into overtime with Team Canada. With international exposure, fans finally realized what an outstanding he player he was. “He’s one of the best forwards in the league … He’s one of the best players in the NHL,” teammate and fellow Team USA member Ryan Suter said about Parise.2

His Minnesota Wild teammates know better than anyone about Parise’s talents. In the second year of a 13-year contract with the Wild, Parise made an instant impact with his new team last season and continues to do this year. Parise quickly became a leader on the team and entered the Olympic break as the second leading scorer on the squad with 19 goals and 36 points3. He recently returned from a broken left foot that kept him out for 14 games and immediately took charge… Without Parise in the lineup, the Wild lost their first four games, but he returned to the lineup with a goal and two assists to take down the conference leading Anaheim Ducks.  Wild coach Mike Yeo had this to say, “We’ve seen it right from the first game that he’s been back with us, how many times we get the puck in the offensive zone, how many turnovers he creates, how much he helps us just to gain zone time in the offensive zone. He’s created chances in every game. He hounds, pressures, and creates turnovers. 2

Whether he’s playing for Team USA or for the Minnesota Wild, Parise makes his presence known wherever he plays. Before becoming an NHL star, Parise spent four years at Shattuck-St.Mary’s, under the watchful eye of his father and hockey legend, J.P. Parise. He then stood out at the University of North Dakota, where he was nominated for the Hobey Baker Award, was named an All-American, and led all rookies in points during the 2002-03 season. Before going pro, Parise also led Team USA to their first-ever gold medal over Canada in the 2004 World Junior Championships. Parise was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament for his performance. 1

Zach Parise has proven he’s capable of winning gold. Now, as captain of Team USA, Parise hopes to lead his fellow Americans to victory at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Regardless of whether Team USA wins gold or not, Captain America, Zach Parise, is bound to make an impact on the outcome.

1 –  NBC Olympics

2 – The Star Tribune

3 – ESPN.com

Alli Baker is a hockey fanatic and contributor for Designated for Assignment.  She can be reached at allibaker23@aol.com or followed on Twitter at @allibaker23

The Olympics Have Lost That Loving Feeling


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As a kid I could not wait for the Olympics to start. Four years seemed like such a long time to see both the winter and summer games played in the same year. I especially loved watching the winter games with ice hockey, ski jumping, downhill races, and speed skating. For the summer games it was the sprints, pole vaulting, long jump and decathlon in track and field, boxing, and basketball.

Things change once you start to get older and the curtain is drawn back, and the wizard is revealed to be nothing more than an ordinary man.  Front and foremost, the corruption of the International Olympic Committee and their laissez-faire attitude towards any mistreatment of the citizens of a host country is exposed. The blatant cheating in sports like figure skating and boxing where medals are based on the score of judges. The completely absurd men’s basketball final in the ’72 games when the Russians manipulated the gold medal right out of the US’ hands in the men’s basketball finale. The final blow was the proliferation of professional athletes in most events.

Some of my favorite Olympic memories as a kid were watching the US beat the big bad Russians or East Germans, or any other team that was already using professional amateurs. The 1980 ice hockey gold medal, better known as the “Miracle on Ice” will never be replicated. It can’t be when teams are loaded with players from the NHL and pro leagues in Europe.

There’s been tragedy as well. The savage murder of 11 Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich summer games in ’72. There was also the bombing at the 1996 summer games in Atlanta that left two people dead.

Let’s not forget the political impact either. The politics that are not supposed to be part of the Olympic experience. Yet Sochi, Russia was chosen for the current games despite a blatant anti-gay policy. Despite pushing people out of their homes to build facilities for the games and the needless slaughter of stray dogs (some of which became stray after the government forced their owner out of their homes), because God forbid one may run into an Olympic venue. Two years the summer games were in China, a country that blatantly abuses their citizens.

There was the US boycott of the 1980 summer games in Moscow due to the Soviet Union’s invasion into Afghanistan and the the Soviets subsequent boycott of the ’84 summer games in Los Angeles as payback. This year, the IOC, in their infinite wisdom, would not allow a tribute to deceased snow boarder Sarah Burke, because that would be political.  Putting a sticker on your helmet with her name is political? Someone should read the dictionary definition for  the word political to IOC head Thomas Bach, who is doing a fine job following in the foot steps of his inept predecessor Juan Antonio Samaranch.

Despite it all, I’ll still be watching the Men’s hockey tournament, but possibly nothing more than that. And if they keep up the slaughter of stray dogs, I may just skip it all together.

Lastly , have you heard this nonsense that there is no such thing as the Easter Bunny?
Drew Sarver is the publisher, managing editor, and a contributor for Designated For Assignment. He can be followed on twitter at @mypinstripes or by email at dsarver@d4assignment.com.