Q&A With ... Scott Young
On Induction to the U.S. Hockey Hall and More
Scott Young played at Boston University for two seasons before being selected as part of the U.S. National Team in 1987, leading up to the 1988 Olympics. The United States had a team stacked with college stars, most of whom went on to distinguished — and in some cases Hall of Fame — careers, but finished seventh in that tournament.
Young went on to play 18 NHL seasons, starting in Hartford, and including Stanley Cup championships in 1991 with Pittsburgh and 1996 with Colorado. He participated in more World Cups and Olympics for the United States as well.
This week, he was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, along with former Boston University coach Jack Parker; former Northeastern and Women's National Team coach Ben Smith; and former Providence star, long-time NHL coach and coach of the 1996 World Cup champs, Ron Wilson.
Young was also chosen as part of Team USA's staff for this year's Winter Olympics in South Korea, assuming that all comes to pass without a hitch. There's a lot of geopolitical intrigue swirling around the Games at the moment.
Young: I'm trilled to go. I'm planning like there's none of that (intrigue) going on, but I am fully aware of it. There's nothing we can do.
CHN: How about this U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame selection?
Young: I'm really honored. The group that I'm going in with, to have played for three of them, with Ron, Jack and Ben, and Kevin (Collins) being a Mass. guy and it's in Boston, and I (had) a ton of family (there).
CHN: You couldn't ask for any better.
Young: And USA Hockey ... (I was in Lake Placid last week) and getting all of these memories. Because we trained here in 1987 and '88. You get chills. I just have all the memories from way back. I was 19 years old. USA Hockey has done such a great job. And I feel like myself, and so many — Brian Leetch, Craig Janney —- we were all a big part of it as it was growing. Obviously there are many, many more guys than that. We were a part of it. We were on the team that won the first World Junior medal. And now (the U.S. won its third) gold medal last year. It's come so far, they've done such great job. And they gave us all great opportunities to play in these international tournaments.
CHN: Lake Placid never gets old.
Young: It's awesome. I haven't been here in a while. After '88 we did have traning camp here with the Whalers. I remember, I walked by the hotel across from rink, and I was nervous as hell that my name was on roster and that I wasn't sent down. But all these memories come back.
CHN: You guys were definitely the bridge group between Miracle on Ice and now, where it's not a surprise anymore.
Young: We were able to spend a year together (for the Olympics). Tony Granato was my roommate. Then you get to the World Cup where it wasn't a miracle. We were there, we arrived. And it was a lot of work, lots of ups and downs. But I was part of that group that grew with USA Hockey.
CHN: 1996, things were not as publicized. Hockey still isn't compared to other sports, but it's way better now than it was. In 1996, if you weren't a die hard hockey fan, the World Cup was under the radar. I used to try to tell general sports fans, "Do you realize how big a deal this is?"
Young: The thing I used to think about that, I almost wished, back at the time, that it was still called the Canada Cup. Maybe it would've gained more attention. It was the World Cup — people were confused as to what it was.
CHN: These experiences ... You had a tremendous long NHL career. How do you put the two in perspective? The USA Hockey experiences were brief, relatively speaking, in a long career.
Young: It really helped make me a better player, and enabled me to have the career that I had in the NHL. Playing in three World Juniors ... my first compared to my third, it was night and day. I was so overwhelmed by the first one, and then we win bronze in the second one, then the third, we beat Russia and the Czechs. Then the Olympic team in '88. So getting to play the Olympic tour, playing Russian teams, NHL exhibition schedule — all that made me such a better hockey player. And without those, I would've been in the minors a while. (Young never played in the minors before the NHL.) And I attribute that to playing in the Olympics. ... Then the 2002 Olympics and the World Cup, that was some of the funnest hockey I've ever played in my life. You look around the room, you have some of the best players in the world.
CHN: Can you even compare the international stuff to the Stanley Cup championships? Are the feelings different or the same?
Young: It's different. One, you put on the U.S. jersey and have the pride of your country, which is obviously a huge, huge thing. And the other is such a grind. Compare 2002 to the 1996 Avalanche — we won silver (at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City). It's definitely a different feeling if we won gold, but you're breaking for three weeks, whereas you're with your team all year to win a Stanley Cup. It's just different. I don't think you can compare the two. To put on the U.S. jersey is just incredible pride. And the grind you have to go through to win the Stanley Cup, it's so hard to do. But it's different. I don't feel right comparing them.
CHN: After the last lockout (in 2005), you had a decent year with the Blues (18 goals). How hard was that to retire? Did you consider continuing to play?
Young: I did. I contacted the Bruins, they were local. I would've done it, to be able to play for the local team. But what it came down to, a couple teams wanted to trade for me at the (previous) deadline (and I said no). I was out on my own. My kids were back in my home town. That factored in. We had a tough year in St. Louis. I thought about, do I want to play another? I could've in my mind, absolutely. But I couldn't imagine working out again that summer at the same level I had the last 20 years. I kept waiting, a few weeks, a month; and then I couldn't imagine working out at that intensity level. And I knew if I couldn't prepare, that was it.
CHN: You played for Jack Parker at BU, and surely got to know him even better later. Did you always get along with him at the time?
Young: I got along with Jack fine. There was one time me and Clark Donatelli and Tommy Ryan, we skipped some classes. We got the brunt of him bringing us into the locker room. We were skating in warmups and he pulled us off the ice, and read us the riot act; was kicking around chairs. But I listened to my coaches, worked hard. I loved him as a coach, he was a great motivator. He was the type of guy where you go through the recruiting process, and I knew I wanted to play for him right away.
CHN: He could be tough.
Young: But it was good for us as 18-, 19-year old kids, to have someone who was stern like that. He had great attention to detail and as a coach, he really prepared you to play in the NHL.
CHN: The one year you were in the NCAA tournament was freshman year (1986), you guys lost to Minnesota.
Young: That was a total goals series. We didn't deserve to win it, but it was a weird format.