The blueprint for Team USA’s success in Olympic play might have been written in 2010’s silver medal-winning effort. (Or “silver-medal settling,” for our Canadian readers.)
Rather than selecting the biggest stars with American birth certificates – no matter their age – general manager Brian Burke and USA Hockey built an actual team, filled with as many role players as there were star players. In front of stellar goaltending from Ryan Miller, some believed they overachieved, and perhaps they did. But the construction of the team gave the Americans a blueprint to follow for subsequent Olympics.
If David Poile is, in fact, the next general manager of Team USA for the 2014 Sochi Games, as reported by Bob McKenzie of TSN, one expects it would extend that philosophy.
(Why no Brian Burke, given the team’s success in Vancouver? Please recall the bizarre edict by USA Hockey that its general manager must be currently employed in the NHL in order to get the national team gig. Which smacks of “let’s get out of the Brian Burke business.”)
The “Team USA way” isn’t all that different from “The Predator Way”: The idea that the fourth liner is just as vital as the top liner; that defense wins championships; and that the parts of a team can be interchangeable if everyone buys into the overall philosophy of the franchise. It’s one of the reasons why the Predators have had postseason appearances in seven of nine seasons.
Does it translate into postseason success? Not all the time. But as Dirk Hoag of On The Forecheck notes: “There's no free agent market available to address the talent gap, so Team USA has little choice but to embrace the ‘hard hat & lunch pail’ mentality that served them well in 2010.”
The conversation will now turn to the coach for Sochi, which means a conversation about Dan Bylsma and Peter Laviolette. Oh, and John Tortorella, as long as he has a job this season.
Your move, Vancouver.
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