USA Hockey Announces Management Team for 2014 Olympics
JUNE 29, 2013- -Heading into the 2014 Olympics in Sochi the US Men’s Hockey team’s only goal is winning a gold medal, according to USA Hockey President Ron DeGregrio.
“Hockey in our country has come to the point where winning the gold medal is not a miracle, it’s an expectation,” DeGregorio said Saturday.
Team USA took its first step toward that goal today when it formally announced both the upper management and head coach of the men’s team that will be going to the 2014 Olympics.
Management will be led by Nashville Predators GM David Poile, who will also serve as general manager of Team USA, Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero as associate general manager and Brian Burke as director of player personnel. They will be helped by an advisory board made up of Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman, Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon, Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi, Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren, and Pittsburgh Penguins scout Don Wadell. This is a group of some of the best and most tenured hockey executives in the world as USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean pointed out when he said,”"This is a remarkable group we’ve assembled, with over 150 years of GM experience and six Stanley Cup titles.”
In addition to this group, the man leading the troops on the ice will be Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma, who was introduced as head coach of the Olympic team today. Bylsma has had a wonderful career as a head coach with the Penguins where he has posted a 201-93-25 record and won one Stanley Cup. During this time he has had to deal with many high profile players, of which nearly the entire USA roster will be comprised. This experience will help him in his handling of the Team USA.
“You draw upon having dealt with star players,” Bylsma said, “(We) will use that experience when trying to assemble a team.”
Bylsma never participated as either a player or coach but will surely be helped by upper management, including Brian Burke, who was GM when USA came in second in 2010, and what will likely be an experienced group of assistant coaches. Assistant coaches with experience will be especially crucial as the team will be playing on the bigger international-size ice surface and on European soil, where Team USA has historically performed very poorly.
“We’ll draw on other people’s experience in international competition in our search for [assistant] coaches,” Bylsma offered.
The upper management group will be tasked with helping the coaching staff to decide which players will ultimately will make the trip over to Sochi. It will be important to find a mix of players both equally talented and cohesive as a unit. Talent both on the puck and in skating ability will be especially crucial on the big ice that many of the European teams-who have also have many European based players-are used to and will force team USA to play a different style than they are used to in the NHL. What will help the team adapt will be a leadership core that makes sure the team never gets frustrated because in a short tournament such as the Olympics, one game off track could lead to the team going home early.
“The players that we’re choosing have really responsible leadership roles on their teams,” said GM David Poile. ”We’ll have skill, leaders and team players.”
The first opportunity for team coaches and management evaluate these players will be between August 25-29.
“We do have plans for an orientation camp, the dates of it right now are August 25-29 in Washington D.C. at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex,” according to Assistant Executive of Hockey Operations for USA Hockey Jim Johansson. ”I would plan on August 26th and 27th being the main days of the camp.”
This camp will be the first time and likely only time USA Hockey is able to get the main group of players that will go to the Olympics together before they are actually in Sochi and will serve as an important step in the ultimate goal of winning the gold medal. Everyone who spoke today made it clear that winning the gold medal was the only goal this year, a prospect that surely will excite hockey fans around America who are often only given expectations of getting a medal or even making the medal round.
Exciting times lay ahead for USA Hockey.