Friday, August 21, 2009

Olympic Team USA - Red, White - and how about some more Blue?

With the Winter Olympics scheduled to split our NHL season into two parts this coming year - it has our attention.

Unlike the Miracle On Ice days, Team USA can field professional players for the NHL. Your New York Rangers, of course, have more than their share of US born players. It would be a shame if none of our American players got to go for the USA Gold - but it could happen.

The Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke is also Team USA's GM and will be picking the squad. In a recent interview at USA Today, Burke spoke about player selection:

"We can't just take the 23 best players. We have to take players who can perform specific tasks at a high level, even if that's a blue-collar task."

Team USA Coach Ron Wilson got a little more specific:

"we will need a (physical) style to wade through that minefield."

What he means is that the USA team will need to have a physical presence - to be aggressive - in order to compete. They want big players who can hit and score. The fact that this time they will be playing on the smaller NHL sized rinks will give an advantage to that style of play. In the past Olympics the games were played on larger European rinks - so the the slow tough players are less of a factor because there is more room for the faster guys to skate around them.

Burke also mentioned that role players will be part of his team. And he mentioned Ranger Chris Drury as one possibility. What he likes about Drury is that he can play a variety of roles - a role player to grind down the opposition or an addition to the scoring lines.

The other Ranger with a chance to make the club is Ryan Callahan. Former Ranger Scot Gomez is a possibility also. But none of these guys are a lock.

So we'll root for a few of our New York Rangers to make Team USA. Otherwise - we won;t know who to root for - especially when the Swedish team has King Henrik in goal.

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