On Wednesday after the National Hockey League Winter Classic, the brain-trust of Team USA led by General Manager David Poile announced the players that would represent USA Hockey at the 2014 Sochhi Olypmics. Scott Burnside of ESPN published an article last night that gave an exclusive look at the selection process. It is a long read but it was well worth it. We as fans are always asking for more behind the scenes access and this went above and beyond anything we could have asked for.
Brian Burke on the other hand, may think that it was too much access now that the article is out for public consumption. Burke is the director of player personnel for Team USA who has never been known to mince words. Throughout the entire process there were discussions on what players would be in and what players would be out. One of the most talked about players was forward and 2010 Olympic team representative Bobby Ryan. The group that picked the final roster left Bobby Ryan off the roster. In the article Burke is quoted as saying:
“He’s a passive guy…He is not intense. That word is not in his vocabulary, It’s never going to be in his vocabulary. He can’t spell intense. If he’s not going to be put in a role in which he can score an important goal, use his skills as a sniper, he shouldn’t go.
Bobby Ryan did not appreciate the words from the man who drafted him back in 2005 to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Ryan spoke with the Ottawa Sun and had these words for Burke and the rest of Team USA:
gutless…They were direct quotes and it’s unfortunate they feel that way…That’s their opinions and they’ve got to form a team. I guess to a certain degree you have to respect it. You don’t have to agree with it, right? But you could have just cut me. You didn’t have to … Actually I almost feel degraded when it comes out like that. It is what it is. That’s their decision. That’s how they feel about it. I will remember it and use it as motivation
The decision to pick an Olympic team is not an easy task and this year was probably one of the hardest for Team USA. The talent pool that Poile had to pick from is larger than ever. It was inevitable that there would be players left off that would feel snubbed. In order to pick a team that they thought would be the best to bring home gold, the group in charge had to be honest. They had to fully critique every player and especially the players that were on the bubble. The words that Burke said were behind closed doors and ones he probably thought would stay there. Unfortunately, the decision made to grant Burnside and also Kevin Allen of the USA Today full access, those words did come out and the player discussed was able to read them.
The possible challenge going forward will be if there are injuries to the current players selected to the roster. What if they have to go turn to Bobby Ryan to fill a position? What will his reaction be? I would assume that playing for your country will trump all and Ryan would have no issue joining the team, but you can be sure, these words are something that Ryan will not soon forget.
What’s your take? Let us know…