Disappointing to a hockey nut
Sean McDonald | amsterdam | 10/15/1999
(2 out of 5 stars)
"1st, this is both womens and mens hockey. It is devided nearly in half. While womens hockey is comming along, it cannot match the intensity or the excitment of the mens game which leads to the 2nd problem with this dvd. CBS apparently thought that since the US didnt win a medal, why really bother to do much with the DVD. With many other hockey video's even though we know the outcome the video's will atempt to build up tension and excitement. There is NONE here. It is a poorly conceived and put together DVD and no worth the price tag."
Probably not what Gary Bettman had in mind
Brent A. Anthonisen | Alpharetta, GA, USA | 12/28/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"File THIS one under "The more things change, the more they stay the same."
It didn't take long for Canada to follow the USA's lead when they realized that the only way they could win the Olympic tournament for their own sport (basketball in the USA's case, ice hockey in Canada's) would be to kick the amateur players out and let the seasoned professionals suit up for the love of country to really show those slick-skating Europeans what the game is all about, eh!
Not only that, but maybe the NHL could pat itself on the back and actually manage to cross-market itself in the guise of Olympic competition, give itself a much-needed market boost here in the US as the league's best players bring the Olympic Gold back to North America for the first time since (*ahem*) 1980? After all, Canada may have had the best team, but the USA were defending World Cup of Hockey champs at the time (not that anyone IN the USA knew or cared, a particularly galling fact to most Canadian hockey fans, to be sure).
Because these Olympic games took place in Japan, only the most die-hard hockey fans in North America would be awake to actually see the games played live. In short, the NHL ended up in essence preaching to the choir.
If that wasn't bad enough, the NHL's marquee teams Canada and the USA (ESPECIALLY the USA) woefully underperformed; the USA despite having on paper one of the most talented teams in the tourney finished well out of the medals, and Canada, Silver Medallists during the 1992 and 1994 Olympics, mailed in a Bronze Medal game with Finland to likewise "Finnish" out of the medals after losing a hard-fought game to the Czech Republic in a penalty shoot-out.
Gold: Czech Republic
The Czechs were probably the best story of the tourney, not just because they won as outsiders, but because they had made a concrete (indeed, almost hypernationalistic) effort not to man their roster exclusively with NHL players; about half their roster was taken from the Czech Elite League (similar to the way European -especially the dominant Cold War-era USSR- Olympic teams were put together before NHL involvement). Unfortunately being primarily USA/Canada centered, this DVD doesn't adequately cover this angle of the tournament, nor are the other well-performing teams given much coverage (Pavel Bure of Russia had a particularly devastating tournament, recalling his performance as a junior for the then-USSR, and Jari Kurri was ending his international career as he had begun it almost 20 years prior playing for Finland, winning his last game this time).
CBS to its credit tries to gain USA interest by devoting half of this DVD to the Team USA Women's admittedly shocking upset of Team Canada (who had topped the USA women in every major international tournament they'd contested previously), but that accomplishment, notable as it is (yes, I watched that tournament play out whenever I could), just doesn't capture the imagination in the same way the men's game does.
It would take the NHL and Canada another try at Salt Lake City in 2002 to buy back its past glory, but the Nagano Games tournament in 1998 proved that while there is unquestionable star power in the NHL, it is a well-coached team including star players and role players (along with a superhuman goaltender) that is the championship model to be followed. While the casual hockey fan may believe that the accomplishments of the Czech Republic might not quite rank with Team USA's "Miracle On Ice" win in 1980, the two teams are remarkably similar when compared within their respective scopes; the Czechs are done a disservice in the coverage they get on this DVD, as an upset like this simply doesn't happen every year. Great team, great tournament, LOUSY highlights package."