One year ago, Sean McVay became the youngest head coach in the NFL when he was hired by the Los Angeles Rams. At only 32 years old, he proved to the NFL that age is just a number, winning the 2017 NFL Coach of the Year Award in just his first season.
He wasn’t expected to bring the young Rams back to relevancy so soon after five straight losing seasons under Jeff Fisher. But McVay led the Rams to an 11-5 record and an NFC West crown, the franchise’s first division championship since the 2003 season.
The worst part about that 3-2 shootout loss to the Czechs was that the game never should have reached a shootout. Vojtech Mozik took an ill-advised slashing penalty with 1:20 left in regulation and the game tied 2-2. The U.S. power play was clicking at over 20 percent for the tournament. The Americans not only finished the third period on the power play — they also started overtime with a 4-on-3 man advantage for 40 seconds.
“They are fearless. They are just kids having fun. A lot of guys are 12-13 years older than them, and when you see the fun and the attitude they play with, it rubs off on a lot of us,” goalie Ryan Zapolski told ESPN.
It was a calculated decision by the late Jim Johannson, GM of Team USA, and his brain trust. They felt a team made up of veteran players — ex-NHLers and AHLers who played overseas and were familiar with the larger ice surface — would be the safest play. They trusted them more. Yet the kids were the only bright spot on this team offensively.