First and foremost, let's make this very clear: as a citizen of the States, I'm a huge supporter of USA Hockey and root for them in every national tournament. I'm American, of course I do. I grew up idolizing the Miracle On Ice team and everything they stood for. They're still my favorite team of all-time. I truly want to see the USA program get better and succeed. That's why, when I did my Team USA roster for the upcoming Olympics, I was so happy to find that there were actually some tough decisions to make. Depth is a good thing. Ask Canada. After the U.S. announced its roster after the Winter Classic, I, like everyone else had a few questions. Later that day I heard that ESPN's Scott Burnside was one of two media members given full access to Team USA meetings and that he had essentially put together a timeline of events showing the world how the team was picked. ESPN (amazingly, unbelievably, surprisingly) ran with it. "How cool is this?", I thought. Then I read it. I enjoyed it at first, until it all kind of settled in. Then I cringed.
The powers that be in USA Hockey agreed to give two reporters full access to some of the most significant inner-workings of their entire operation. Oddly enough, that wasn't what bothered me. What bothered me is that all of the "behind closed doors" quotes came from very high profile names and those quotes found their way to the public. They came from names such as Predators GM David Poile, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman, Kings GM Dean Lombardi, Panthers GM Dale Tallon, Penguins GM Ray Shero, former Thrashers GM Don Waddell, Penguins Head Coach Dan Bylsma, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren and Flames President of Hockey Operations and Acting GM Brian Burke, among others. The most powerful and influential men in USA Hockey were all put on record throughout the entire process. It's not Burnside's fault. It's not ESPN's fault. What the hell was USA Hockey thinking? Two of the best U.S. born players in the game today weren't just left off the team, they were ripped apart by the men doing the picking. You can debate whether or not Bobby Ryan and Keith Yandle belong in Sochi, but when an unfiltered source sits in the same room, you need to watch what you're saying. This makes more than Ryan and Yandle look bad, it makes USA Hockey look bad. As they make their case to Team USA GM David Poile for their personal selections, the organization members begin to rip certain players and their deficiencies. Jack Johnson went through the ringer, as well. Whether you agree with every word they said, or not, none of it should have been made public. This is all on the Team USA coordinators who allowed it to happen. It's unfortunate that these players now have to respond to the negative portrayal set forth by these arrogant men. One thing is for sure, though, Ryan, Yandle, Kyle Okposo and the others who were bubble players and tossed aside, we will see the best they have for the rest of the season. And something tells me Bobby Ryan can't wait to play Calgary.