No faith, no miracles

Did Simpson deliver Herb Brooks' speech? Maybe


ZSC Lions coach Sean Simpson on the way to the Victoria Cup - the second huge surprise after having won the Champions Hockey League. Photo: Matthew Manor / HHOF-IIHF Images

According to Ari Sulander, the ZSC Lions goaltender, his biggest worry in the game against the Chicago Blackhawks was that the team might not believe in itself enough.
Because without faith, there’s nothing. No miracles.

Great moments are born from great opportunity.
And that's what you have here tonight, boys.
That's what you've earned here, tonight.
One game.

Those words laid the foundation for the Miracle on Ice in the Lake Placid Olympics, a long time ago. Team USA head coach Herb Brooks delivered a thunderous speech to his players, reading it off of a back of an envelope.

What ZSC Lions head coach Sean Simpson - a one-time Chicago Blachawks draft pick - told his players before the game is not known, and not a part of the hockey lore, at least not yet, but the spirit of his pep talk must have been the same.

If we played 'em ten times, they might win nine.
But not this game. Not tonight.
Tonight, we skate with 'em.
Tonight, we stay with 'em, and we shut them down because we can!
Tonight, we are the greatest hockey team in the world.

The ZSC Lions had earned their spot in the Victoria Cup by winning the Champions Hockey League title last season, beating Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the two-game final. While the Chicago Blackhawks didn’t go all the way in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, they did advance to the Western conference final against the Detroit Red Wings.
Probably, maybe, the Hawks would win a best-of-seven playoff series against the Lions, let alone a ten-game series.

But not tonight.

You were born to be hockey players - every one of ya.
And you were meant to be here tonight.
This is your time.

Majority of the players in this season’s ZSC Lions were in Rapperswil in January when they beat Metallurg to clinch the spot in the Victoria Cup. They’ve taken different paths to Zurich, some born in Switzerland, others in Finland or Canada.

But they all became Lions.

Their time - is done. It's over.
I'm sick and tired of hearin' about what a great hockey team the Soviets have.
Screw 'em!

Of course, if coach Simpson delivered the Brooks speech before tonight’s Victoria Cup, this was the section were he had to make a change. Strike “Soviets” and put in “Hawks”. But that would have been easy to change. Minor detail.

Sulander didn’t need to worry, the Lions did keep the faith, and they left everything in them on the ice. They blocked shots with their backs - “I haven’t seen our guys block as many shots in a long time,” Sulander said - they skated harder than ever, they killed the penalties, and they stuck to the plan. Because they believed.

This is your time!!
Now go out there and take it!

And they did. The Victoria Cup stays in Europe.




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