HOF Induction A Fitting End To Amonte's 'Miraculous' Career
/ Chicago Blackhawks
Like so many U.S.-born hockey players growing up in the 80s, Tony Amonte idolized the achievements of the 1980 U.S. Men’s Olympics Team and their “Miracle on Ice.” But it wasn’t until years later that he ever dreamed he could accomplish everything that team did in Lake Placid.
“I remember sitting at home watching the 1980 Olympics and it was the most unbelievable thing I had ever seen,” says Amonte. “I remember a few years later I saw the 1988 Olympic team when they were traveling around the country. I really started to get into it when I saw it live. Guys like that make you think it’s possible; without the guys who come before you, you don’t think that you can get there.”
Not only did Amonte eventually get his chance to participate in international competition, but the two-time Olympian is now set to join the 1980 team and many other notable hockey figures as a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. The former Blackhawks captain and five-time NHL All-Star will be inducted this year with fellow 2002 Olympians Tom Barasso and John LeClair, USA Hockey announced Tuesday.
“This is just a thrill that you never expect growing up; you just go out there and play for the love of the game,” Amonte said in a media conference call. “This is truly and honor and something my family and I will treasure for a long time.”
Through his career, Amonte competed for the USA in international play eight times, winning a Silver Medal in 2002 and scoring the championship-winning goal in the 1996 World Cup.
“That was a pinnacle of my career,” says Amonte of the ’96 World Cup win. “I scored 40 goal three consecutive years after that. Being able to be a part of that game was just unbelievable. It definitely took my career to a different level that it had never seen.”
Former teammates say that Amonte’s passion for the game always showed when he played, and that his effort night in and night out was consistently great.
“I had the honor of playing with Tony as a teammate [in Philadelphia and on the 1998 and 2002 Olympic teams] and he was always a terrific teammate,” says LeClair. “He played hard and had drive like nobody I have ever seen. He really loved playing the game.”
Hearing Amonte reflect on his long career, it becomes apparent that he loved playing with the legendary U.S.-born figures around him as much as they respected and enjoyed playing with him.
“Those teams just had so many characters on it and so many personalities,” Amonte recalls. “Being around guys like Chris Chelios, Brett Hull and Brian Leetch, you knew every time you stepped on the ice that you’re playing with the best U.S.-born players. You knew something special was going to happen.”