SOCHI SCENE: No miracle needed

FILE - In this Feb. 21, 2010, file photo, USA's Patrick Kane (88) and Canada's Sidney Crosby (87) battle for the puck during the second period of a preliminary round men's ice hockey game at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Kane's maturation as a person and player seems to have helped the Chicago Blackhawks win two of the last four Stanley Cups, and improves the Americans' chances to win Olympic gold in hockey since the "Miracle on Ice," in 1980.(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 21, 2010, file photo, USA's Patrick Kane (88) and Canada's Sidney Crosby (87) battle for the puck during the second period of a preliminary round men's ice hockey game at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Kane's maturation as a person and player seems to have helped the Chicago Blackhawks win two of the last four Stanley Cups, and improves the Americans' chances to win Olympic gold in hockey since the "Miracle on Ice," in 1980.(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — The United States men’s hockey team heard plenty about the “Miracle on Ice” in 1980 during this Olympic trip to Russia.

It was hard to resist the storyline, especially when the Americans played the Russians in the preliminary round. But after Team USA lost a chance to go to the gold medal game with a 1-0 defeat to Canada, coach Dan Bylsma said the references to that game and its hold on the program “are a little old and not applicable.”

It wasn’t a shot at the team of amateurs that shocked the world to beat the Russians in the Lake Placid Olympics on their way to their last hockey gold medal. It was an assessment of the changes to Olympic hockey after that. The Americans use professional players now, and they’ve sharpened their developmental program to groom young players up through the ranks as well. So the playing field is much more level than it was in 1980, when a bunch of college kids played the Soviet machine.

“Thirty-four years ago, it was a miracle,” Bylsma said. “But circumstances in our team and our program (are) much, much different now. … It’s not a miracle for us to think about winning a gold medal.

“In 2010, this game between the Canadians and Americans was for a gold medal. Today it’s two of the greatest hockey programs in the world playing for a chance to win a gold medal and we missed that opportunity today,” he said. “And we missed it to a team that is right up there as the best in the world.”

— By Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski

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