Nine NHL teams have already resumed playing, the Penguins are about to tonight against Montreal and it’s time once and for all to let go of Sochi.

But that can’t be accomplished in good conscience without one last summation of Team USA:

“It was a good group of guys. I believe they were well coached, well prepared. I think they represented the United States, despite what some people want to say. They played hard and they were a caring group of guys.

“I’m really happy to have been associated with them.”

Pens General Manager Ray Shero uttered those words this week upon returning from Russia, where he had served his country in a general manager’s capacity.

It is not an unbiased assessment given Shero’s close association with Team USA.

But in the wake of the apparent misunderstanding of how Team USA played, the misinterpretation of comments players made after that gut-wrenching, 1-0 loss to Canada and the misguided significance attached to the 5-0 loss to Finland in the meaningless-from-our-perspective Bronze Medal Game, Shero’s comments are worth repeating.

America’s entry into the Winter Olympics was indeed a worthy combatant.

Unfortunately for America, Canada’s collection was more worthy by a goal.

If you’re still determined to assign blame, blame that.

“The message is always about how the U.S. didn’t play,” Shero continued. “Well, I think the credit has to go to Canada. These guys were really, really good and there’s no denying that fact.

“That might be the greatest Olympic hockey team ever.”

I’m not sure if Red Army veterans are buying that last part.

Then again, that wasn’t a bunch of would-be Miracle Workers Canada bested in the semifinals.

That was a great U.S. Team, one that was expertly selected, attacked the Olympics with the most noble of goals and performed in a breathtaking manner.

Right up until it ran into Canada.

“We came in with high expectations,” Shero confirmed. “There’s nothing wrong with setting a high goal. We missed it. If we had lower expectations and hit them, that’s not so good, either.

“We did what we wanted to do the first four games. We played really well as a team and it was exciting.”

For that much I’ll always be appreciative.

And because of that the unhappy ending will be easier to live with … eventually.