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Barrasso Understands the Move to Shootouts

by Mike G. Morreale / Pittsburgh Penguins
BOSTON  -- Tom Barrasso considers the shootout a "necessary evil" in today's game.

The shootout, adopted by the League just prior to the 2005-06 campaign, was created to put an end to ties and undoubtedly provide the fans some fantastic finishes.

"It's great for the fans; they love it," Barrasso told "It diminishes the role of many players on the team, which is unfortunate. I think the goalies have come to accept it so I think it's just another way we've moved forward with our game. People leave the building knowing there's a winner and I think that's what they want."

Barrasso, currently an assistant coach for the Carolina Hurricanes, was one of four individuals inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Tuesday at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel. He was joined by Tony Amonte and John LeClair. Inventor Frank Zamboni was enshrined posthumously while the 1998 Women's Olympic team became the first group enshrined in the Hall since 2003 (1980 Men's Olympic Team).

Barrasso, of course, was the only goalie to make the NHL right out of high school without some form of major-junior or collegiate experience. He can recall his first season in Buffalo as if it were yesterday.

"When I look back now, I don't even know how it was possible to play on that level but that's one of the things I'm most proud of," he said. "It was also some of the most fun I've ever had, playing with grown men like Jerry Korab, Gilbert Perreault and listening to their stories -- things I'll cherish. There was no pressure, no one expected me to be as successful as I was."

Barrasso won the Calder Trophy and Vezina Trophy after finishing 26-12-3 with a 2.84 goals-against average and .893 save percentage as a rookie with the Sabres in 1983-84.

Where was Rocco Amonte? -- Rocco Amonte wasn't at the Bell Centre in Montreal to witness what would be the pinnacle moment of his brother's hockey career during the final game of the 1996 World Cup of Hockey. Fortunately, he didn't miss a single second either.

Rocco was as stunned as anyone else when his brother connected for the eventual game-winner in a 5-2 victory over Team Canada that enabled the United States to celebrate its first world hockey title since the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.

As it turned out, the elder Amonte, who was the head trainer for the ECHL's Tallahassee Tiger Sharks at the time, watched the celebration on a big screen television thousands of miles away.

"I was at a pool hall/sports bar in Tallahassee, Florida," said the elder Amonte, who attended Tuesday's U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame ceremony. "It was the only place in town with a satellite dish showing the game. I was there with a few buddies playing for the ECHL team there at the time. My first reaction was, 'I can't believe I'm not there.' 

"My second reaction was, 'This is a huge moment in USA Hockey.' I was very proud of him. His line with (Bryan) Smolinski and (John) LeClair had been one of the best lines in those games. I found out through my dad (Lewis) and my cousin, Joe Shaggy, a good time was had by all that night in Montreal."

Tony and Rocco were inseparable as youngsters, playing pee-wee and high school hockey together.

"Cell phones weren't invented so I couldn't call Rocco after that third game but we talked a day or two later," Tony Amonte said. "He loved the game and loved to play and winning that World Cup was a satisfying game for all the fans and especially my family."

The Speech  -- It isn't difficult recalling the speech Herb Brooks offered his players just prior to heading onto the ice against the Soviet Union during the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" in Lake Placid.

But are you aware how 1998 women's Olympic coach Ben Smith addressed his team just before they took the ice against Team Canada in the gold-medal game in Nagano, Japan?

"I used an old golf analogy," Smith told "When you're involved in match-play, the guy furthest away from the pin always putts first and when that guy is putting, you would expect someone to say, 'Oh God, I hope he doesn't make it.'

"I would root for him -- you have to want him to make it and then you put yours right in on top of his. So, I told the team that I was going to say a prayer that Canada plays their best, because when we beat them, we're going to know they played their best and it wasn't good enough."

Sounds like the kind of material that would make one heck of a movie.
The impact of Big John  -- Sure, John LeClair will never forget winning a Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens in 1993.

But he'll also look back on the 1996-97 campaign with great pride when he represented his country and starred for the Philadelphia Flyers. It was a season that saw LeClair play a vital role in helping the U.S. win the inaugural World Cup of Hockey behind 6 goals and 10 points in seven games before leading the Flyers into the Stanley Cup Final.

"Yeah, for me it was one my most memorable because we not only reached the Stanley Cup, but won the World Cup, which was a big highlight in my career," LeClair said. "I played with such a great group of guys on the team and everything went down so well. Winning those two games in Montreal the way we did was outstanding."

LeClair would score 50 goals in 1996-97 as a member of the Flyers -- including 17 during a 30-game stretch when Eric Lindros was sidelined by injury. Philadelphia was swept by the Detroit Red Wings that season in the Final, but LeClair did score a pair of goals while playing with a badly bruised left shoulder. Of course, LeClair became the first American-born player to record three consecutive 50-goal seasons while with the Flyers from 1995 through '98.

Zamboni's 'Grasshopper'  -- Frank Zamboni's ice resurfacing machine wasn't his only ingenious creation.

In 1973 and '74, Zamboni received patents for the Astro Zamboni Machine, which would vacuum and pump water off AstroTurf at the rate of approximately 400 gallons per minute. The machine was actually requested by the Monsanto Chemical Co., which manufactured AstroTurf and was having serious issues with water remaining on top of the artificial grass following a heavy rain.

"When he was approached by Monsanto, he told them that his resurfacing machine couldn't do that job but that he would build something that would," Frank's father, Rich Zamboni, told

The machine is actually credited with saving several World Series baseball games from being rained out.

Zamboni would also invent the "Grasshopper," a machine that rolled up and laid down the artificial turf on sports playing fields in domed stadiums -- including the Superdome in New Orleans.

"The Grasshopper was probably the most fun machine to drive," Rich Zamboni said. "It would go this way and that way, it would go sideways and what not. But it would roll up this turf that was 100 feet wide and did a neat job."

Monsanto was so impressed with the Astro Zamboni Machine that the company again reached out to Zamboni to resolve another issue -- removing paint from the AstroTurf after it had been applied to mark stripes for different sports. And, once again, Frank came through, building a machine that used rotary brushes to scrub the turf and then blasted a high pressure spray of water to wash away the loose paint.

"What can I say?," Zamboni said. "My dad just liked to do something new and different and it was a challenge to him. He was comfortable in doing it; put a little roadblock and he'll recover and do something about it."

Contact Mike Morreale at:

Author: Mike G. Morreale | Staff Writer

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