It’s the Fourth of July in the United States, which means, if you’re like me, you’re celebrating America today. Sure, you might grill a few hot dogs, drink something cold, wear shorts, maybe toss the ball around the yard or shoot off some of those fireworks that guy in the van said were totally legit.
Here at United States of Hockey, I decided to celebrate America a little differently.
What if some of the great (and some not so great) icons of American history played hockey? What position would they play? What would their role on the team be?
These are the things that keep me awake at night. So I decided to form America’s Ultimate Hockey Team.
Without further ado, I present to you the greatest hockey team ever assembled… in my brain… just now.
George Washington (First President, first-line center) — At the center of the American Revolution and the heart of America’s team, General Washington is the team’s captain, of course. He leads the forecheck with steadfast courage, like the lead boat crossing the Delaware. He doesn’t have the best feet or hands, but the heart of the lion. “Washy” also has the false teeth thing going, too. Hockey player’s hockey player.
Abraham Lincoln (16th President, right wing enforcer) — Despite a somewhat bony physique, Lincoln towers over most opponents at 6-foot-4 and has deceptive strength from years of chopping wood. He’s tough to move from the crease and when the gloves come off, he always keeps ’em honest. Fans have taken to calling him The Liberator. When he’s done with his fellow combatant, the gentleman is liberated from the ice… on a stretcher. Lincoln’s dressing room speeches are legendary.
Mike Eruzione (Olympian, left wing) — Despite his vast international experience and on-ice success, Eruzione is one of the least accomplished individuals on the team. He won over teammates when he halted a late-night bag skate… by faking a seizure. From then on, they decided to deal with Rizzo and his stories about that one time he beat the “Cawmmies.”
Paul Revere (silversmith, two-way forward) — A strong player with a solid work ethic and speed, he’s renowned for his great vision, even in the dark. His skating is almost like a horse’s gallop. “Paulie” is also one of the best back-checkers on the team, often shouting to his defense to be at the ready. “The forwards are coming!”
John F. Kennedy (35th President, LW playmaker) — JFK, or Fitzy as he’s known in the room, is cool under pressure. There’s a smoothness to his game and his puck skills are off the charts. Coaches have worried about his focus with his penchant for puck bunnies, but damn can this guy play. He’s been pressing the team administration to get his brother a spot on the team, often saying, “We’re like the Sedins, but American, and not twins and less creepy.”
MacGyver (Be-mulletted brainiaction hero, third-line center) — He always seems to skate himself into trouble, but thanks to his hockey sense kicking in at just the right time, he always finds a way out of it. Also, this. And this:
Although I’m not sure why Mac keeps calling himself “Richard Dean Anderson.”
Sarah Palin (former governor, agitating right wing) — It’s a good thing she doesn’t read the papers, because they’d be all over her for her decision-making on the ice. Often frenetic with or without the puck, Palin struggles to play well with others. She’s one of those players the other team hates to play against, but… well, she’s also not well liked in her dressing room either. Wears lipstick to differentiate herself from a pitbull. However, if there’s nothing between her and the goal, she zeroes in on the top corner like it’s the heart of a moose through a scope from 100 feet up in a helicopter.
Mr. Rogers (neighborhood icon, sniper) — Though he can float around the perimeter and can be a little light on his feet, he’s a gifted scorer. “Freddy” can put the puck in the net from just about anywhere on the ice and any distance, like he’s had a lot of experience in the heat of battle or something. There are rumors out there, at least. He spends a lot of time watching video, which coaches love, but his teammates aren’t really sure about the whole talking to puppets thing.
Thomas Jefferson (Third President, all-around forward) — Fluent in French, which makes trash talking the Quebecois a little easier. And he wrote the Declaration of Independence, which is why this holiday exists. Good enough for me.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (32nd President, D) — Though polio limited his mobility, he finds a way to stick, much like a John Scott. He tries to make sure everyone on the ice is taken care of. The one thing FDR needs to work on is hogging the ice. I mean, the guy never gets off, often triple-shifting. The coaching staff may amend Rosey’s ice time upon further examination.
Dwight D. Eisenhower (famed general, 34th President, stay-at-home D) — Along with Roosevelt, makes up the famed “D Squad.” Ikes, as the boys call him, is often three steps ahead of his opponents. He likes to direct the forwards to forecheck in waves and storm the creases while he sits back and surveys.
John Wayne (actor, physical D) — With his steely gaze, he casts fear in the hearts of opposing forwards. “The Sheriff” as he’s known league wide only fights when he has to. His punches have been known to kill lesser men, which may be why he finds so few willing sparring partners. His quiet confidence and true grit puts forecheckers at bay. Wayne also has some of the most hockey experience on the club as he played a chicken farmer-turned NHL star in the 1937 film, “Idol of the Crowds.”
Chris Chelios (NHL veteran, all-around D) — He just kind of kept showing up and asking if he could play. One night, George and the boys decided to throw the kid a bone and let him hit the ice. He never left and he still won’t.
Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (pilot hero, puck-moving D) — No matter how bad things get or how much pressure he’s under, Sully always makes the safe play. With his sure, steady hands, he finds the openings and glides the puck gently to his nearest teammate. Boasts the team’s best mustache and always diverts credit to his teammates, with that “aw, shucks” demeanor hockey media just eats up.
Elvis Presley (singer/actor, offensive defenseman) — With some of the best moves this side of Bobby Orr, Presley effortlessly floats through opposing teams with his patented hip fake that makes opponents pass out. He’s a bit moody and tends to take a while in the bathroom. He also struggles to keep the weight off in the off-season, but as one of the most exciting players on the team, nobody seems to mind. The King sells tickets, plain and simple.
Hulk Hogan (pro wrestler, starting goalie) — At 6-foot-7, 280 pounds and with 26-inch “pythons” good luck getting anything past this guy. He goes post-to-post better than anybody and when he really wants to crush a team’s spirits, he makes his trademarked “Atomic Kick Save (and a beauty).” As an added bonus, he chose the team’s entrance music.
William Howard Taft (Fat President, second-string goalie) — He just stands there, wedged between the pipes. His five-hole is a little lacking and if he tries to move, he usually gets stuck in a bad spot. At 340 pounds, the team knows he should probably lose weight, but then they’d have to cut him.
Benjamin Franklin (inventor/patriot, third-string goalie) — Described primarily as “good in the room,” Benny is more of a social director than goaltender. The whole bifocals thing doesn’t really bode well for a guy who’s supposed to stop a puck. Also, for a guy who “discovered” electricity and may have frequented ladies of the night, he sure hates red lights.
George S. Patton (general, head coach): A strict disciplinarian, Patton always gets the most out of his guys even though Washington insists he could be a player-coach. He manages egos well and on this team, that’s a must. Patton sure knows how to get the lads riled up, too.
Herb Brooks (hockey coach, assistant coach): How can you have a U.S. hockey team and not have Brooks? Well, you can’t.
Lee Greenwood (singer, athletic trainer): Just an excuse to close with this.
Happy Fourth of July, everyone. America.