There are many awards you can win playing professional hockey, but perhaps the two most cherished are a Stanley Cup and Olympic gold medal. They both are team accomplishments and are arguably the two hardest for an individual to win. Unlike awards such as the Maurice Richard Trophy or the Art Ross Trophy, winning a Stanley Cup or Olympic gold medal takes effort and chemistry from every member of the team. Both are such exciting things to win and are cherished by players forever, but which one would you rather win?
Every kid who grows up wanting to play hockey dreams about winning the Stanley Cup and holding it over their head. When vying for the Stanley Cup in today's game, you are competing against 29 other teams. After working your way through a punishing 82-game season (or in some cases a shortened lockout season), teams then head to the playoffs, where they must win 16 more games to be the last team standing. In the playoffs, teams compete in best-of-seven series and it becomes exhausting to the point that they are basically only running on adrenaline.
Some players go their whole career without winning a Stanley Cup and others have the luxury of winning several. No matter how good you are, it is all about how well your team performs and how well you stay focused throughout a long, draining season.
Representing your Country in the Olympics is a great honor. You're not just playing for your team and your fan base, you are playing for a whole entire nation. Unlike the Stanley Cup where you have an opportunity to win it each year, you can only win an Olympic gold medal every four years.
The quest for an Olympic gold medal in hockey is only 17 days long and only consists of 12 teams. The journey is not nearly as intense, but with there being single elimination later in the tournament, anything could happen and teams could be surprisingly knocked out.
To be the last team standing and hear your National Anthem play while receiving a gold medal must be an incredible feeling. It makes you feel honored and that you did everything you could to represent your Country.
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