Saturday, 13 August 2016

One Of The Best

As a fan of Canada on the international scene, it's always a little bittersweet when you find out that a major player on another international team has stepped away from the big stage to focus on life, happiness, and family. American goaltender Jessie Vetter has indicated that she is making that transition, and this writer has nothing but the utmost respect for a woman who routinely was a thorn in the side of Canadian players. Her retirement announcement was low-key in that she told Mark Tauscher and Michael Popke on August 11, but the highly-decorated 30 year-old netminder seems to be done with the game.

In their article for the Madison, Wisconsin-centric, Vetter tells Tauscher and Popke,
"I think as I've gotten older — and I just got married — the idea of training and competing and going to the rink as much as I did just doesn’t seem as appealing as it used to. So I’ve been asking myself, 'If I don't want to put my hockey gear on, how am I going to be able to stay at the high level I expect of myself?' I've had a long career playing hockey and enjoyed every second, and if it's time, it's time."
And with that statement, Jessie Vetter steps back from the competitivie hockey life and off any stage that involves professional hockey or international hockey.

Vetter's resumé is littered with achievements from her NCAA and international playing days. She is a three-time NCAA champion with the Wisconsin Badgers, a two-time Olympian, and appeared multiple times for USA at IIHF World Championships. While she brought home two silver medals from the Olympics, she was always seen as one of best, if not THE best, netminder at each tournament. Vetter wasn't flashy nor did she possess a look-at-me personality, and you always knew you were going to see her best when she wore the pads for Team USA.

Personally, it's a bit of a relief that Vetter is no longer going to be standing in the blue paint for Team USA. She was always up for the big games and she made Canada earn everything they achieved. There was no give-up in Vetter, and I think she made the Canadians better with her effort, poise, and determination in defending the American net. As the saying goes, to be the best you must beat the best, and there is no denying that Vetter lived up to the word "best" each and every time she stood between the pipes.

On the other hand, I'm sad to see a competitor like Vetter hang up the skates because she was so good. She was always humble and quick to defer success to the entire team in her interviews, but there was no denying that she played a large role in Team USA's successes. As I stated above, she forced Canada to b better, but her presence on the ice for the Americans also ensured that USA's goaltending was being pushed to new levels thanks to her play. For as much as she pushed the team to new heights, she pushed her colleagues to be that much better in carrying the torch forward.

Jessie will continue to be busy in the Madison area as she volunteers one day a week at the Children's Hospital as well as participating in a number of charitable organizations and events. She's an avid golfer, and there's a good chance that she'll be driving the greens around the Madison area.

Vetter's career may have been shorter than some already inducted, but there may not be a better Hockey Hall of Fame choice from the American game when it comes to netminders. She certainly has earned the respect of her teammates, peers, and competition, and I'm going to miss her glowing smile and flowing locks of hair from behind the cage after making a game-saving stop.

Enjoy the next steps of your life, Jessie. You're one of the best I've ever watched play despite breaking many hearts in Canada!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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