Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 11/30/12 at 06:45 PM ET
from Chris Stevenson at the Toronto Sun,
Inside a door just before the main entrance to the Ice Cube, behind a USA Hockey logo, there's evidence of another strong athletic legacy growing in the shadow of the Wolverines.
This is the home of USA Hockey's under-17 and under-18 teams ... and a lot of trophies.
It's like the basement of the Gretzky household in Brantford, Ont.
Right inside the door is a reception counter, with gleaming trophies from USA Hockey's victories at the last four world under-18 championships inside glass cases. Photos of the teams celebrating their victories are on the walls.
To the left, there's a hallway filled with framed USA Hockey sweaters from world junior championships and other international competitions along one wall, the medals won in those competitions in the corner of the frame. On the other, photos of the former members of the program who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League are displayed.
It's a long hallway.
Since USA Hockey's National Team Development Program was started in 1996, more than 200 of its players have been drafted by the NHL, including 45 first-round picks and three first overall (Patrick Kane by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2007; Erik Johnson by the St. Louis Blues in 2006 and Rick DiPietro by the New York Islanders in 2000).
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