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USA Hockey preps for '06

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — If the U.S hockey team skates off with a gold medal in the Turin Olympics, no one will call it a miracle or rush to make a major motion picture.

Truth is, it might not be all that surprising.

This is not 1980 and these players aren't unknown college kids like the ones who shocked the world by beating what was thought to be an invincible Soviet team during the height of the Cold War.

Starting Tuesday, 39 Olympic hopefuls from 21 NHL teams will gather for a three-day orientation camp at the home of USA Hockey. Many of the invited players are familiar because most have spent time in the NHL and a bunch have starred.

Some from this group won't make it to Italy in February for the 2006 games. And some who weren't asked to this camp will likely make the trek to the Olympics, the third time NHL players will be used.

Brett Hull and John LeClair, the top two scorers for the U.S. team that won a silver medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, aren't in attendance. They will have plenty of time with their new NHL teams — Hull with Phoenix and LeClair in Pittsburgh — to prove they still have the offensive punch coach Peter Laviolette will want in Turin. Past performance for national squads will only count so much.