We need to stop the myth-making around the 1980 U.S. Olympic team. It was a good team – there were six players who jumped straight to real roles [in] the NHL right after it was done. 17 players had been drafted either by the NHL or [World Hockey Association] or both. Eleven players had significant NHL careers. Four players – [John] Harrington, [Buzz] Schneider, [captain Mike] Eruzione and [Bob] Suter – had already played professional hockey and had their eligibility re-instated; they were on the roster to provide veteran leadership and we wouldn't have expected them to continue on to NHL careers. These were not the typical US olympians of the era.
To put it another way: they were no Switzerland. [Goalie] Jonas Hiller and [defenseman] Mark Streit are more skilled than anyone on the American roster was at the time of the 1980 Olympics, but will any other Swiss player crack an NHL roster after the games are over? Severin Blindenbacher is one of their top defensemen, and he was a 9th round pick and minor-league journeyman. And yet, the Swiss still have a 17% chance to beat the US today.
Or to put it another way:
USA 1996 > USA 2010 >> USA 1980 > SUI 2010."
I've lived in the US for a long time. I know some people still see the 1980 Olympics as payback for the Russians being first to put a dog in space. But there's nothing wrong with admitting that the US has a good hockey team as opposed to being lucky, is there? The Canadians, Russians, Czechs and Swedes would never pretend that they were underdogs at these Olympics (the Finns and the Slovaks are underdogs), so why should we pretend that an American team that's competitive with this group is an underdog?