If there was doubt that USA Hockey was ready to hand things over to its next generation of talent, it officially ended with today’s announcement of the roster for the Olympics in Vancouver.
Veteran former standard bearers like Mike Modano and Scott Gomez, who were both at Team USA’ orientation camp last August in Chicago, were predictably kept off the roster, leaving the leadership roles to be handled by previous Olympians Chris Drury, Jamie Langenbrunner and defenseman Brian Rafalski all slated to make the trip.
Among them, Drury, whose season with the New York Rangers has been less than auspicious, was one of the few surprises on a team that had for all intents and purposes been put together in Chicago. The selection of St. Louis Blues forward David Backes will probably raise some eyebrows as well because he has struggled most of the season, but apparently not enough to dissuade the American brain trust from bringing along. Same thing goes for New Jersey defenseman Paul Martin, who has been injured for much of the season and isn’t sure if he’ll be ready in time for Vancouver.
No doubt Team USA will go in to the Games as decided underdogs, but the Americans won’t be soft touches by any stretch. Team USA has some high end scoring power on the top two lines, with Zach Parise, Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel, Paul Stastny and Bobby Ryan, two-way grit and tenacity with forwards like Langenbrunner, Ryan Kessler, Ryan Callahan and Dustin Brown, and a quick and mobile defense unit that has shut down types like Mike Komisarek and Brooks Orpik.
“The goaltending position was probably the easiest one for us to get through," Burke said. "It's one where we've got some depth.
“We’re excited about our chances.”
For now certainly, and definitely for the future.