When I first started this company, I knew there was going to be a World Cup of Hockey in 2016; and the very first shirt idea I had was a Team U.S.A. shirt. I didn't know how I was going to get there, but I knew I was going to put out a shirt that celebrated the glory of Team U.S.A.
Team U.S.A. was my first time. I didn't grow up a hockey fan. I grew up on Football and Baseball. I got into hockey in high school thanks to some friends of mine and Team U.S.A. Most people get into a sport by watching their local pro team but not me. Although I came to love the Los Angeles Kings soon enough, it was Team U.S.A. that grabbed me. You might be thinking, well this guy got hooked by the national team in 1980, just like everyone else in America. But no, I'm not quite that old yet.
The year was 1992 and America sent a scrappy bunch of amateurs to Albertville, France to compete as Team U.S.A. This was the second to last year that N.H.L. players did not compete in the Olympics for America. This was the first hockey team I would ever cheer on. I didn't know much about hockey or hockey history at the time, so these guys became my first hockey idols. Ray LeBlanc was the first goalie I sat in awe of and Shawn McEachern was the first speedster that got me out of my seat. Out of all the players on that team, only Keith Tkachuk would become an N.H.L. superstar. A handful of others would got on to have respectable careers in the big show: Joe Sacco, Bret Hedican, Scott Lachance, Ted Donato, Steve Heinze and Mike Dunham. I followed all of their careers after the Olympics, continuing to cheer them on in their after Olympic lives.
It was a decent showing for our boys in Albertville. They cruised through the first 6 games with the only hiccup being a tie against Sweden. They made it to the Semi-Finals, where things took a turn south, losing to Russia; and then getting trounced in the Bronze Medal Game by the Czechs. That was a brutal ending for my first hockey love.
I'm really proud to present out Team U.S.A. shirt to you and I hope it shows all the pluck and spunk of that first Team U.S.A. that captured my heart and made it a hockey heart.
Wolf and Crown
Stories of Legendary Characters.