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It's About the Team...

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins

PLYMOUTH, MA -- Former Bruin and U.S. Olympian Dave Silk is used to answering questions about his on-ice experiences.

Former Bruins Tommy Songin & Dave Silk

However, something tells me that even a player from the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" squad never expected those queries would come from the children of children who watched his team's improbable journey from would-be also-rans to a now legendary gold medal in Lake Placid.

But for Silk, who was Wednesday's guest instructor at Boston Bruins Summer Camp at Armstrong Arena in Plymouth, MA, those questions always give him an opportunity to talk about the most important lessons to be garnered from USA hockey's watershed moment.

"I think that the beauty of hockey is that whether you’re Sidney Crosby or, you know, a fourth line player or a spare goalie -- you’re still valuable to the team," said Silk, who played 64 games for the Black & Gold (with 20-22-42 totals) during the 1983-84 and 1984-85 seasons. "I think that the teamwork and the cohesion and the will to support one another and be a good teammate often time gets discounted as opposed to just being a good player or a great player.

"Great teams win championships great players don’t," he said. "So I think [if there's] a message that if I could deliver to young kids, young hockey players it would be that."

As such, it's team achievements -- far from any ice -- that Silk, who was also a standout forward at Thayer Academy and Boston University, focused on as he talked about relating to the current games being held in London, England.

"You know, when there’s more than one individual athlete; when it’s a group of athletes that win and seeing their camaraderie, and the joy, and the gratitude that they have for one another I think that brings back a lot of fond recollections because what we did was so team-oriented as opposed to individual," he said. "I think that strikes a common cord."

But for Silk, the present day Summer Olympic Games with its wall-to-wall coverage from one of the world's most well known cities seems light years away from what he and his teammates encountered in the hamlet of Lake Placid along the back roads of upstate New York.

"Really, the scope of the Summer Games is so much larger than the Winter Games now and then," he said. "You can’t compare London as a venue to Lake Placid.

"We had our opening ceremonies at the Lake Placid Equestrian Club," added a smiling Silk in fond recollection. "So, it’s just apples and oranges to compare the two.

"But I think one of the things that made it so much fun back in 1980 was quite simply the fact that it was small and that it was confined and there was a feeling of everyone being in it together, and that was really neat.

"I think, unfortunately, as the games have gotten larger and larger, maybe that feeling of feeling in a small environment has got lost," he said.

They celebrated as a team, too!

However, the lessons of 1980 remain completely relevant, and are not at all lost - even to children whose only reference for Silk and Team USA's victory over the powerful Soviets is the movie Miracle staring Kurt Russell (which is itself now nearly a decade old).

"Well I think clearly the movie sparked a whole level of interest in kids that are young hockey players and young athletes that weren’t aware of what happened a generation ago, and I think that’s been terrific," said Silk as he prepared to field dozens of questions from campers - many of whom cited specific moments from the movie.

"I think that what has come across from the movie is that, you know, we can do it – we as in 'the team' – the underdog can win if everyone pulls together and rows in the same direction at the same time.

"And I think that’s a terrific message to get across nowadays, because as I said sometimes people get more concerned about their individual productivity as opposed to how well the team’s doing."

Silk also stated that many of those same lessons were reiterated while he wore Black & Gold.

"I loved being a Boston Bruin, and as I was growing up, I never really had a goal in mind or dreamed of being an Olympian - I always dreamed of being a Boston Bruin. So to put on that jersey was really a culmination of a childhood dream," said Silk. "The Boston Bruins have always been known as having a very close-knit team and being a part of the Boston sport’s culture. And the Bruins have always kind of reflected Boston as a hardworking community, a hardworking team, guys that get along together and work hard for a common goal. I think that that’s always kind of symbolized Boston.

"So you know, in terms of that and the Olympics, yeah, we pulled together and we had a common goal and had a focus on what we wanted to accomplish and achieve.

"I think the Bruins have always had that passion and that goal in mind, and that’s what made them such a successful organization over the years," he said. 

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