U.S. Olympic Camp: Quote Roundup From Day 1

The U.S. Men’s National Team Orientation Camp is officially underway in Arlington, Va., and while the players aren’t on the ice, there’s some interesting info coming out of the camp.

Logo_USA_hockeySince I couldn’t be there, I’m rounding up some of the most notable notes and quotes as tweeted out by the assembled media with some thoughts on each.

There was an opening press conference from Team USA GM David Poile and many players had media scrums throughout the day. Coming up after the jump, some of the most notable quotes of the day.

Before we get to the quotes, one bit of housekeeping. Poile said the roster is expected to be announced “approximately” on New Year’s Day. That’s when the 2010 team was announced, at the conclusion of the Winter Classic game, actually. USA Hockey usually likes to tie its announcements to big events, so don’t be shocked if they do it at the Big House (though there will be a lot more Canadians in the building this time around, so that could be interesting).

As my colleague from CBSSports.com shares, Poile isn’t downplaying the level of talent. You may recall in 2010 Brian Burke played up the underdog status of Team USA, even though he and a lot of other people knew they had a great chance to be there at the end of the tournament. Poile certainly wants this team to have some bravado on top of the higher skill level compared to four years ago.

Poile stressed the importance of a players’ performance in the first half from the beginning, but this is the first time that he’s said that the body of work will be taken into account. I kind of always figured it would, but Poile was making it sound like nothing would trump those first few months of the season. I think this is a much better method of selection. History counts, especially when you’re looking at international experience and big-ice experience.

Not often you see a GM admit to a mistake right in the middle of a camp. I thought this was one of the most questionable omissions from even just an invite to camp. Seeing as the U.S. brought in so many guys, to leave Pominville off seemed so odd to me. It’s good to know he’ll be watched carefully. I’m sure the same could be said for Brandon Dubinsky.

This is obviously a great problem to have. One Team USA’s North American rivals probably wish they had at this point. I think this is the one position where how a player is playing at that time is going to be weighed most heavily. That said, it’s hard to see anyone other than Jonathan Quick as the starting goalie, but I have a feeling Ryan Miller is going to get a much longer look than I figured he might. There’s a lot of respect for what he did in 2010. Still feels like this should be a younger man’s crease this time around.

My how things have changed. Looking back, there were so many guys who were inspired by the Miracle on Ice team that have played in the last few Olympics. Now that era is done. These guys probably can relate more to the theatrical version than the actual 1980 team, or maybe even more closely to the 1996 World Cup of Hockey team. Of course the Miracle was 33 years ago and in camp, almost all of the guys are under 30.

This was the most notable nugget of info that came out this morning to me. Team USA’s leadership group was something Poile had talked about, but it was never identified. I don’t think anyone can argue with this group of players. You expect each to be on the roster and at least three of them to wear letters. If I had to guess coming into camp, these would be the exact guys I’d expect to see in the group. So which of these players will be captain? Smart money suggests Parise at this point, but I wouldn’t be stunned to see Callahan and Brown more firmly in the mix for that role. Unquestionably, this is a good group to lean on. All have Olympic experience, and all except for Suter have worn a C, either now or once in their NHL career.

More from Brian, who you should be following for live updates, by the way. I agree with Poile. I think there are players who can get overwhelmed at times by it, but in reality, the game is won and lost between the dots, like on any sized ice surface. I wrote about this at length a while back. The big ice is a factor, but it isn’t going to be the determining factor in who wins or loses, unless someone gets lost out there at the wrong time. There is certainly more of an emphasis on speed and transition, but defensively, a lot of the stuff stays the same.

There’s no on-ice practice for the players, but some of the guys got out there for an American Development Model session with a bunch of local youth hockey players. It’s great for the kids, but a lot of these players really enjoy getting out there with the kids. Looks like John Carlson and Phil Kessel are having a good time. At least I think that’s a smile from Kessel. It’s hard to tell.

Also, note the practice jerseys. Could this be a preview of tomorrow’s big jersey unveiling?If so, I think I like the direction they’re going. That USA crest on the front is on all of the gear the players have been given from T-shirts to warmups to obviously practice jerseys. That jersey gets revealed Tuesday.

Brian Stubits also filed a great recap of some of the comments shared by players and staff Monday in Arlington here.

Among the highlights from Stubits’ piece:

Former U.S. Olympian Bill Guerin spoke with the team twice Monday, offering some inspirational words. Patrick Kane shared some of his thoughts on Guerin and the team USA Hockey can assemble.

“[Guerin] gave two speeches so far and they’ve been pretty moving so far,” Patrick Kanesaid. When he’s talking everyone’s focused and listening.

“People have said they feel this is maybe the most talented team put together in US history. You hear that stuff and it’s something you want to make true and make believable and live up to those expectations.”

Via Stubits, Dany Bylsma on the selection process

“I think there are certainly a couple of aspects that are unique to this selection process,” Bylsma said. “There has to be a body of work that you look at when evaluating players. There’s no trial, there’s no on-the ice time here, there is a body of work from each player here. Having said that the next three, four months is the key time to establish that. How you’re playing for the 3-4 months will be important.”

Lastly, Ryan Kesler is seeking some redemption in Sochi after a disappointing loss in the final in 2010:

“That will never leave. A lot of guys are returning and we all know that feeling,” Ryan Keslersaid. “Our goal is to win gold. That’s what we’re going there for.”

More from the good folks on the ground in Virginia.

This is bound to be a hot topic in the lead-up to the Olympics. van Riemsdyk has recorded a You Can Play PSA. If you’ve noticed, a lot of players, including those from Canada on Sunday have chosen their words carefully, but many have shown displeasure with the law.

David Backes went into great detail on this topic with Mike Russo of the Star Tribune:

The position of USA Hockey is hockey is for everyone. As an American who believes in the freedoms that we have and the way we run our society and culture, everyone has their right to participate in sports or live their lifestyle the way they want. I’m supportive of anyone. We had our first gay basketball professional athlete come out this year and my stance was then and is now that anyone is welcome in my locker room with the St. Louis Blues that lives that lifestyle. I don’t care if you’re black, white, green, purple, gold, what you think, as long as your committed to the team aspect and the way that we’re playing, you’re always welcome on my team. I think the guys on this team would all agree that we’re going over there to play a great sport, but we don’t have to agree with everything they do and they don’t have to agree with everything we do. We have our views. You’d like to think that the Olympics are apolitical, but I think you’ve seen in history, they’re not. There’s always some underlying themes that seem to come up. That being said, it’s sport at its purest. It’s always been. The political stuff kind of gets dragged in there. Unfortunately, it does, but we’re there to participate in hopefully what’s going to be a phenomenal Olympic games put on by the Russian Federation.

Interesting stuff from Backes and some thoughtful commentary as well. The big thing that I think most people have said is that they’re going there to compete. While there’s a big demand for activism among athletes, I think it’s difficult to expect any grandiose gestures. Comments like Backes’ however are important. They’re supportive of teammates and fellow Olympians and sends a message to the public that as athletes, they believe in equality. I would love to see someone with a formal protest of Russia’s laws of some kind given the platform, but I also don’t expect athletes to sacrifice what they’ve worked for in the process unless that’s a cross they’re both willing to and capable of bearing.

Sean Leahy of Puck Daddy focused in on Jonathan Quick and his desire to be the starter. Quick shared the value of being the third stringer in 2010:

“I was pretty young in the league at that point in my career,” Quick said at U.S. Olympic camp on Monday in Arlington, Va.

“I didn’t know many guys, especially guys around the team. It gave me an opportunity to meet a bunch of the guys and also watching [Ryan Miller] and how he prepared for games of that magnitude. It’s little things here and there that you pick up on.”

Quick’s inclusion on the 2010 team really could pay some dividends if he’s given the nod in Sochi.

One guy who may have a lot to say about it, Ryan Miller, the 2010 starter. He still wants this job, or so it seems. Here he is in those slick USA warm-up jackets. Again, there’s that USA shield. Increasingly sure that will be the primary logo on the jerseys unveiled Tuesday.

USA Hockey formally announced it will unveil its official Olympic jersey Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. ET in Arlington. The unveiling with stream live on USAHockey.com and will be hosted by NHL Network’s Kathryn Tappen. David Poile, Dan Bylsma and select players are also expected to speak at the event.

STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING RIGHT NOW AND HEAD OVER TO THE SLEEPING GIANT for what is one of my favorite things from the brain of Ryan  Lambert and Chemmy of Pension Plan Puppets. They are creating a T-shirt for the upcoming Olympics and they’re asking the public to vote on one. I really can’t decide. Also, a significant portion of the proceeds will go to the USA Hockey Foundation. What great American fellows they are.

That should do it for today. More coverage coming on Day 2, as well.


About Chris Peters

Editor of The United States of Hockey. Contributor to CBSSports.com, USA Hockey Magazine and more. Former USA Hockey PR guy. Current Iowan.
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