If player inductions into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame are a proper measuring stick of an Olympic team’s success, then the 2002 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team is setting the bar extremely high.
In two years, six players from the team have been tabbed for enshrinement. In 2008 it was Brett Hull, Brian Leetch and Mike Richter. The Class of 2009, which was announced Tuesday, will include Tony Amonte, Tom Barrasso and John LeClair, in addition to the 1998 U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team and Frank Zamboni.
“That team just had so many characters on it and so many great personalities,” Amonte said. “You knew something special was going to happen.”
Barrasso said joining the U.S Hockey Hall of Fame with so many teammates is an honor and said just being on the team was a highlight in his very decorated career.
“I was fortunate to be on two Stanley Cup teams, but I put just being at the Olympics in 2002 at a similar level. That’s how honored I was to be a part of that club,” he said.
LeClair said the entire team, from head coach Herb Brooks down, worked so well together that the success in Salt Lake fed off the team bond.
“Everybody got along off the ice so well and it was just such a great mix of guys that you didn’t want to let anyone down,” he said. “It really fueled the fire to the performance we had out there.”
Barrasso said the number of players entering the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame from the 2002 team is an indication of the growth of hockey in America and the ability to produce elite players who wear the Team USA jersey.
“It’s not just great American hockey players, it’s some of the greatest players who have played,” he said. “It’s a testament to what USA Hockey has been able to do over the last 30 years.”