Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Return of the Big Red Machine

The science people say things at rest like to stay at rest, and the things in motion like to stay in motion.  Before the Cincinnati Reds of the 1970s became the Big Red Machine of Major League Baseball there was another Big Red Machine from a place that most Americans feared in the 1960s, mother Russia.  If I was to write this article say 50 years ago, I would probably be arrest and tried for treason.  This Big Red Machine, ruled the world of hockey from the 1950s to the early 1990s, the question is, are they retooled and headed back to unstoppable?

If you are not familiar with the success, no success is not the word, domination of what was the C.C.C.P. men's hockey team, you are not familiar with world hockey at all.  This article might better explain to you why the American's upset at Lake Placid in 1980 was the biggest hockey, no the biggest upset of all time, in any sport.  While, Russia did not invent hockey, they took hockey to a level that had not been seen before in world competition.

The reign of the Big Red Machine began with their first goal medal in the Olympic Games of 1954.  They had won the World Championships of 1952 but there is nothing like getting the first goal medal for your country.  They would take bronze in 1960 but that would be the lowest medal they would receive for the next 34 years, with the failure at Lillehammer in 1994.  Outside of the silver at Lake Placid in 1980, the Russians won gold every Winter Olympics up until 1994 (In 1992, they become the Unified Team after the fall of communism).

The Big Red Machine was not only an Olympic Dynasty, they own 22 World Championships from 1954 to 1990.  They only lost 6 times in the Olympics from 1954 to 1992.  Their record overall was 738-110-65, which is rather unbelievable.  Like all great things, things had to come to an end at some point, the end of the Big Red Machine can be tied to the end of communism, and the freeing of Russian states such as the Ukraine.

Like I said earlier, the team now referred to as Russia in 1994 did not medal at the Olympics, they also did not medal at the World Championships.  The frustration for Russia would continue as they did not medal in the World Championship again until 2002.  This included an embarrassing 11th place showing when the World Championships were held in St. Petersburg, Russia.  The Olympic team also failed to capture the gold, settling for a silver in 1998, and a bronze in 2002.  They have failed to medal in the last two Winter Games in 2006, and 2010.

Things are starting to look up though for the Russian team.  In 2008, and 2009, they won the World Championships.  Just within the last week they won the 2012 World Championship, going 10-0 and just destroying the Slovakian in the final.  They had so much offense that the Slovakian were holding on for dear life.  This returned their IIHF international ranking back to number one.  Probably returning the ranking to #1 for the first time since the early 1990s.  They are starting to play like the Big Red Machine of the C.C.C.P.

The Russians have a wealth of young talent, much of it plays in the KHL (Russian Professional Hockey) but the big names are in the NHL.  They have Malkin from the Pen-goons which we have talked about in great length, in the blog entitled Mr. Malkin's Penguins.  They also have Alexander the Great, #8, one of the greatest offensive players in the NHL.  They also have Pavel Datsyuk from the Red Wongs.  As much as it pains my very bones to say it, he is a great player.

So, they have the leading points getter in the NHL in Malkin, they have one of the greatest set of hands in hockey, Datsyuk, and they have one of the most electric players in Alexander the Great; how can you compete with this?  If they are on their game, there is no beating the Russians.  Watch because the next Winter Olympics are in Sochi, that's mother Russia if you did not know.  This could be the beginning to getting the Big Red Machine rolling again.  Watch out Canada! hahaha.

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