At right around the mid-point of the 2009-2010 NHL season, the league will shut down (calm down, it's not another lockout) so that its best players can don the uniforms of their home country and compete in the Winter Olympics. And hockey being the sport that it is, this means that the talent is pretty evenly spread out among the U.S., Canada, Russia, Sweden...um, Kerblecchistan (that's where Anze Kopitar is from, right?) - ensuring that almost every game will feature some highlight-worthy moments. In honor of the upcoming Games, here are some classic Olympic (and other international tournament) moments from the ice.
6. Peter Forsberg - 1994 Winter Olympics
Often imitated, never duplicated. Young buck Forsberg (yes, there was a time when he had a functioning spleen and two organic knees) upsets mighty Canada with one of the slickest shoot-out goals ever. Sweden even immortalized this moment on a national postage stamp.
5. Evgeni Malkin - 2006 World Championships
Before his MVP performance helped snagged the Pittsburgh Penguins a Stanley Cup, Malkin was basically humiliating the rest of the world's players with moves like this.
4. Tommy Salo - 2002 Winter Olympics
Now, stay with us: Goalies are suppose to...wait for it...get in the way of pucks. That's their sole responsibility. It's why they wear couch cushions and slasher masks. So it came as a shock to Team Sweden when their man in net, Tommy Salo, thought it wise to duck. What's the worst that could happen, right? Losing to Belarus, that's what.
3. Tony Amonte - 1996 World Cup
Despite a certain miraculous moment in their long history, U.S.A. Hockey was still seen as a third or even fourth string source of potential NHL talent when compared to the rest of the world. That changed in '96, when an underdog team of U.S.-born NHLers upset the heavily-favored Canucks. Amonte, a product of Boston University, capped it off...
2. Gretzky to Lemieux - 1987 Canada Cup
First of all, when you name a trophy after yourself, you'd better fucking win it. But Canada got pushed to the brink by the Russians, who were still the dreaded world-beating Red Army Team at this time. Luckily, the Great White North just happened to have two of the greatest hockey players in the history of the world - Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux - in their primes...and on the same line. Really, Russia should have seen this coming.
1. The U.S. Men's Hockey Team - 1980 Winter Olympics
Right, like this wasn't going to be #1.