February 20, 2010
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Americans brought three jerseys to Vancouver for the Winter Olympic hockey tournament, including an alternate white sweater that resembles the one worn during the team's gold medal run during the 1960 Games in Squaw Valley, a.k.a. the first Miracle on Ice.
Team USA general manager Brian Burke confirmed his players will be in white for their hugely anticipated grudge match against Canada on Sunday (7:30 p.m. EST/4:30 p.m. PST). Will they go retro for what some believe would qualify as a miraculous victory over the team Burke calls the tournament favorites?
"That's classified," he said. "I could tell you, but I'd have to kill you."
Burke spoke after the Switzerland win over Norway, reaffirming how difficult the environment will be for the Americans at Hockey Place against the home team.
"We're the enemy tomorrow. It's going to be a hostile, crazy crowd for Canada, and that's the way it ought to be," he said. "It'll be a zoo in here. An important part of being a successful team is for our team to manage that."
"As tough as that might be on our young players, the pressure's not on our team tomorrow. The pressure's on Canada."
Burke also sounded off on Canada's size advantage, the American's militaristic preparation and how he isn't exactly a fan of playing at noon. At all.
Canada's Size Advantage
"We've got some size too, we just have to try and get some line matchups with way we want them," said Burke. "We purposely brought some beef for that reason, so they better earn their keep tomorrow."
Team Canada executive Steve Yzerman and Coach Mike Babcock both complained about the ice conditions at Hockey Place, but Burke has a solution for those concerns:
"The ice has been fine. Maybe they should play at noon like we've been forced to, and they'll find out the ice is fine."
That said, Burke isn't a fan of the early games. The Americans played at noon twice, joining Belarus and Norway at the only teams to do so.
"I think playing at noon sucks," said Burke.
"I think it's very hard for NHL players to play at noon. But we've played two games and you haven't heard a word [from] our team. Our theory is no complains, no excuses. That's our team motto in Toronto. A complaint is a prelude to an excuse, and an excuse is a prelude to losing. Now that we've played two games, I can say it: I don't like playing at noon."
Burke on Patriotism
Burke said the themes of national pride and patriotic perspective that have existed since the team's orientation camps last summer have continued in Vancouver -- including some elements in the American locker room.
He didn't offer any specifics, but said that the military is part of that theme.
"We've had a strong military element in our preparation since training camp, and we might have had something like here too. It's part of what we do. We're very proud of the military in our country, and it's what we do. The real heroes in our country don't wear hockey uniforms," he said.