They don't shave with their razor blades, they skate on them, and their good, solid Northern and Midwestern names are not recognizable, unless you have spent a great deal of time in Cloqet, Minn., or Lansing, Mich.
There are 80 baby-faced teen-agers and college underclassmen in the ice hockey competition at the National Sports Festival and none is an Olympian. But more 1988 stars might come out of this adolescent gathering than any other of the 34 sports here.
"This is the first phase," said Art Berglund, director of international activities for the Amateur Hockey Association of the United States (AHAUS). "These are the ones who will be top Olympic prospects."
National Hockey League scouts, coaches and AHAUS officials fill the stands at the Baton Rouge Centroplex, where the hockey tournament opened yesterday with the players divided into four regional teams. The field is acknowledged to be one of the deepest in years, including 1979, when the players who went on to become the stunning 1980 Olympic gold medal team were first selected.
There is perhaps more of an air of anticipation in the hockey competition than any other sport here. The 1984 team's failure in Sarajevo was understandable, but there is nevertheless a sense of failure remaining that has made the Festival loom larger in importance this year.
"The actual Games were a disappointment," said 1984 Olympian Chris Chelios, now with the Montreal Canadiens, who is working with the North team as an assistant. "We had talent, we proved we could play with good teams. But we had a lot of bad luck. It's not the best team that always wins . . . Maybe that's a little bit of a motivation."
The 80 players were carefully selected by the AHAUS. Because college seniors are considered unlikely prospects in 1988, when they will either be too old or already professional, none were invited. Dave Peterson, an assistant to Olympic coach Lou Vairo in 1984, is now the National team coach and in charge of player evaluation here. He is also a strong candidate for the 1988 Olympic job, and his attitude is typical of the determination to put 1984 behind.
"Maybe 1984 was a little disappointing, but every Olympics is a distinct thing," he said. "It has no relation to the one before. They have little to do with each other."
The NHL is the AHAUS's biggest enemy right now. Over the last three years, the NHL has drafted a total of 52 skaters here.
"We have to face the reality of the structure," Berglund said. "We're always going to lose players who want to turn pro. The positive side is that we've got more world class talent. We'll have more to choose from in 1988 than ever before, and that includes 1980 and 1984."
Some names to watch over the next three years:
Steve Leach, a 19-year-old from Lexington, Mass., was drafted in the second round by the Washington Capitals in 1984, the 34th pick overall. He was named one of the three best players for Team USA at last winter's Junior World Championship tournament in Finland with two goals, and also was a member of the 1984 National Junior Team. As a freshman last season at the University of New Hampshire, he was named to the Hockey East all-rookie team.
Tim Thomas, a 22-year-old defenseman from Richfield, Minn., was the last player cut from the 1984 team. He has one more season left as a first-team all-Western Collegiate Hockey Association player at the University of Wisconsin.
Forward Clark Donatelli, 19, of Providence, R.I., had three goals and one assist for Team USA at the World Championship tournament last spring. The sophomore at Boston University was a fifth-round choice of the New York Rangers in 1984.
Center Craig Janney, 17, of Enfield, Conn., was a national junior team member last year. He led Team USA with six points and four goals at the World Junior tournament. Defenseman Brian Leetch, 17, a senior at Cheshire (Conn.) High, was a member of the 1985 National Junior Team that competed in Finland, and goalie Mick Richter, 18, of Burnsville, Minn., was the 28th pick in the second round by the N.Y. Rangers in the 1985 NHL entry draft.