Team USA Embracing Underdog Status
1. Saying "This isn't manufacturing underdog status," Burke is embracing the role for the young Americans. He cited his club's lack of size and inexperience. The general manager -- also of the underdog big-market Toronto Maple Leafs (sorry, couldn't resist) -- said the teams to beat are Canada, Russia and Sweden. "Go to Vegas a week before the Olympics," said Burke, "and there won't be a penny bet on us."
2. Wilson is relying on input from his players in the selection of captains. The coach, also the head coach of the Maple Leafs, will canvass several U.S. Olympians on their choice of leaders. One name that came up on the conference call: New Jersey Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner.
3. Asked about the goalie rotation, Wilson picked up Boss Burke's mantra. "We're not preparing anyone for Sochi," Wilson said, alluding to the 2014 Winter Olympics. "We're going to Vancouver to try and win a gold medal." Wilson pointed out how most gold medal teams rode one goaltender and the coach revealed that's how he is leaning. Buffalo Sabres stud Ryan Miller, who happened to be on the conference call, is the overwhelming favorite to be Wilson's one and only.
4. We even got a possible forward pairing out of the press briefing: New Jersey's Zack Parise and Colorado's Paul Statsny. Parise, on the call, responded, "Oh, I didn't know that."
5. Wilson named his top faceoff man: San Jose pivot Joe Pavelski, who's at 60 percent this season. Pavelski wasn't on the call, so someone should break the good news from his old coach to him.
6. Burke said one of the hardest parts of the roster process was excluding American hockey legends like Bill Guerin, Mike Modano and Keith Tkachuk. He once again called their group "the greatest generation" for USA Hockey. "They answered the bell every time they were asked," said Burke. To illustrate, Burke recalled Doug Weight joining the U.S. team on short notice in 1993 at the World Championships in Italy. "They came when it was important," said Burke. "They came when it wasn't important."
7. Players such as forward Kyle Okposo of the Islanders, defenseman Ryan Whitney of Anaheim and plenty others are still being watched in case there is a need for injury fill-ins. "If we lose a top-six forward, we'll look for a top-six forward," said Burke. "If we lose a pick and shovel guy, we'll look for someone who can play that role."
Told that New York Post columnist Larry Brooks wrote that of all Burke's selections only Parise was good enough to make Team Canada, the GM said, "Hey, make sure you send me a copy so I can hang it up in our locker room."