It has been greater than 40 years since Group USA gained a gold medal in males’s hockey on the Olympics and as cherished because the Miracle on Ice is, the Individuals would love so as to add gold to their trophy cabinets. With that in thoughts, USA Hockey has introduced Stan Bowman as GM of the 2022 staff, with Invoice Guerin because the assistant GM.
Bowman was six years previous when the Miracle on Ice occurred and the Chicago Blackhawks GM has a definite reminiscence of watching these Olympics on TV, perched on his grandmother’s lap. Whereas that well-known group of underdogs was made up of faculty gamers led by legendary coach Herb Brooks, the 2022 model of the lads’s squad will probably be all NHLers – lots of whom are from the highest echelon of the league’s expertise pool.
“Right here we’re 40 some-odd years later and we have seen the great progress of our sport,” Bowman stated. “That is thrilling for me to see and to be part of.”
Whereas Bowman sees an amazing alternative quite than strain, there isn’t a doubt that externally there will probably be a white-hot highlight on Group USA.
This would be the first Olympics the place marquee names resembling Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, Connor Hellebuyck, Quinn Hughes and Adam Fox (to call just some) will probably be obtainable to the Individuals, whereas veteran Patrick Kane continues to be piling up factors within the NHL. Hellebuyck is the one one from that group who didn’t lower his tooth with USA Hockey’s Nationwide Group Improvement Program and the success of the NTDP, notably up to now 15 years, is one thing to shout about for the nationwide program.
“It’s a must to tip your cap to the way in which we have been capable of take these gamers as youngsters and actually do our greatest to work on their growth, get them to the purpose the place they are often elite NHL gamers,” Bowman stated. “Right here we’re at this time in 2021 and we have American gamers in every single place doing particular issues each night time. There’s an unimaginable depth of influence gamers.”
The problem for Bowman and Guerin now will probably be becoming all these items collectively. Sure, the Individuals have one of the best depth they’ve ever had, however that additionally means selections – and the unsuitable combine can doom a potential gold-medal staff. As somebody who performed within the Olympics himself, Guerin, the Minnesota Wild GM, is aware of all concerning the heightened ambiance of the worldwide event.
“I performed in three and all three had been totally different experiences,” he stated. “I can deliver these particular person experiences to the desk in how gamers assume and what they are going by. There undoubtedly needs to be a buy-in issue and the one tough factor is that everyone who’s going to be on this staff goes to be a star on their NHL staff and it’s important to assume roles. It is our job and the coach’s job to maintain all people completely happy and ensure there may be nice buy-in.”
That is one thing the archrival Canadians have been excellent at lately and as soon as once more, Group Canada would be the favourite in China – boasting choices resembling Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon up entrance, to not point out unparalleled depth in all places (besides in web – which can undoubtedly be a storyline in Canada from right here on out).
However the Individuals cannot get caught up in constructing an anti-Canada squad, as a result of that is the way you lose the plot and find yourself spilling in opposition to Finland or Sweden. Bowman and Guerin merely need to put collectively one of the best roster potential.
In response to USA Hockey government director Pat Kelleher, the staff is hoping to carry an orientation camp in the summertime, with a roster named round Jan. 1. Bowman stated there is no rush on the coach, however it goes with out saying that will probably be one other large information story.
Group USA has its braintrust, now it is time to construct.