After the thrilling conclusion to another terrific Winter Classic in the NHL – Toronto beating Detroit 3-2 in a shootout – the roster selections were unveiled for the United States hockey team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
There were a few interesting selections, to say the least, as well as omissions. I’ve prepared a mock line-up below with the selections to give an idea of where guys are sitting:
By Adam Pyde – @Adam_Pyde
Zach Parise – Joe Pavelski-Patrick Kane
James van Riemsdyk – Ryan Kesler – Phil Kessel
Dustin Brown – David Backes – TJ Oshie
Max Pacioretty – Paul Stastny – Blake Wheeler
Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan
Ryan Suter – John Carlson
Ryan McDonagh – Kevin Shattenkirk
Cam Fowler – Justin Faulk
Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin
Some interesting selections include Stepan, Orpik, Wheeler, Faulk and Fowler. While interesting omissions include Keith Yandle, Dustin Byfuglien, Jack Johnson, Erik Johnson, and Jason Pominville.
Some people have included names such as Ben Bishop and Corey Schneider amongst their notable omissions but with the depth in net that the US has it honestly can’t really be a surprise to anyone that neither of them made the final cut.
The most notable omission has to be that of Bobby Ryan. He currently has 18 goals and 18 assists for 36 points on the season, which ranks him 3rd amongst US-born players.
I likely would have taken Byfuglien and Yandle for Orpik and Faulk on defence. Also I would have taken Bobby Ryan instead of Blake Wheeler.
Now, this isn’t the final roster as injury replacements can still happen before the start of the tournament. However, to me, I think the US selection committee seriously over-thought things.
This roster isn’t quite as strong as the one many people would have expected the US to ice, especially on defense. Maybe the worst thing is that the selection was followed by an ESPN special about the selection process with some behind the scenes footage.
Why is that the worst thing? Because it showed that some decisions were made because of bad dreams the brain trust was having. Seriously. Other decisions involved some, to put it lightly, brain-dead thinking.
It is this kind of exposé of behind the scenes stuff that honestly makes me wonder how some of these management guys got their positions.
Such as Paul Holmgren, General Manager of the mess that is the Philadelphia Flyers, praising a player like Jack Johnson for his defensive acumen? Brian Burke saying that Bobby Ryan doesn’t play with intensity? Dean Lombardi, recent Stanley Cup winning GM of the Los Angeles Kings, bringing up perfectly-reasoned analysis to have Burke, interim GM of the mess that is the Calgary Flames and previously the mess that was the Toronto Maple Leafs, dismiss everything with sarcastic one liners and for that to be enough to make or break a player’s position on the team? Absurd.
I need an emoticon of a guy smacking himself on the head with a hammer.
It reminds me of the discussion I had with some family by the fire after Christmas dinner on how most of the people in the league honestly have no qualifications for their position besides being friends with the right people. The “old boys club” in the NHL runs everything and you can usually ignore it but then that airs on TV and you can’t help but seriously question things. The NHL has to be one of the most incestuous in professional sports when it comes to management level positions.
In conclusion, it seems like a relatively underwhelming roster for the United States, especially on defence. But hey, people said that in 2010 and they took Canada to the limit before taking home a silver medal. Hopefully this team will be able to do the same, because no one is beating Canada.