My biggest takeaway from Scott Burnside’s Team USA feature last week on the selection of the team where Burnside was granted access to all meetings, ect, is how significantly involved the coaching staff was on the selection of the team.
The coaches, especially Dan Bylsma appeared to have a lot of weight (maybe too much) on which players made it, especially bubble players.
There’s even an instance where Brian Burke states he didn’t let his coaches have as much input in picking the 2010 team as David Poile let the current coaching staff have.
Burnside writes: Burke points out that Poile has included the coaches more than he did when he occupied the GM position in Vancouver four years before. It’s good, but, he adds, “I think coaches see snapshots, and I think GMs watch the whole movie,” Burke says.
It’s an interesting point and an accurate one from the standpoint that the coaches only see snapshots.
Dan Bylsma watches a lot of film and is a very hard worker behind the scenes but there’s only so much scouting he can do. When it comes to players they passed on like Keith Yandle who it’s revealed in the piece that Bylsma felt was too risky, would he have a different opinion on Yandle if he saw Yandle on a regular basis like he does with Eastern Conference players?
The Penguins last season never played the West due to the lockout and in person Bylsma has rarely seen Western Conference players over the last couple years.
In the criticism about Yandle, Burnside included a quote from Peter Laviolette about Bylsma feeling Yandle was too risky. “The risk in his game seems to be more than Dan’s willing to take or wants to take with that type of player,” Laviolette says referring to head coach Dan Bylsma.
If Team USA struggles in the Olympics and fails to medal, criticism could emerge that the coaching staff was too involved in the selection of the team.
For instance, based on his play this season, should Brooks Orpik have been looked at as a lock for months by Team USA brass heading into the roster announcement? Expected to play a prominent role, Burnside pointed out the coaches strongly pushed for Orpik and you never get the sense members of the management team questioned that.
Burnside writes on Team USA’s defense taking shape early into the article. “The locks are identified; Ryan Suter, Paul Martin, Ryan McDonagh and Brooks Orpik, whom the coaches are emphatic they want on the team,” Burnside says.
Canada’s toughest competition to winning Gold could very well be Sweden not Russia or the United States. Sweden is loaded upfront with the likes of Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Daniel Alfredsson Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Steen, Johan Franzen, Carl Hagelin, Gabriel Landeskog and Loui Eriksson. Sweden is also deep on the blueline and the key is going to be whether Henrik Lundqvist regains his old form.

Really like the look of their team.
As for the Russians, they will obviously be a major wildcard. Playing on their home soil and talk of major bonuses to players from the government if they win gold, who knows how things play out with them but the motivation should be there.
The blueline is a concern but the goaltending and top tier talent they have upfront make them an obvious dangerous team but Sweden, Canada and even the Americans are more complete teams.
Forwards: Daniel Alfredsson, Nicklas Backstrom, Patrik Berglund, Jimmie Ericsson, Loui Eriksson, Johan Franzen, Carl Hagelin, Marcus Kruger, Gabriel Landeskog, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Jakob Silfverberg, Alexander Steen, Henrik Zetterberg.
Defensemen: Alexander Edler, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Jonathan Ericsson, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Erik Karlsson, Niklas Kronwall, Johnny Oduya, Henrik Tallinder.
Goaltenders: Jhonas Enroth, Jonas Gustavsson, Henrik Lundqvist.
Forwards: Artem Anisimov, Pavel Datsyuk, Denis Kokarev, Ilya Kovalchuk, Nikolai Kulemin, Evgeni Malkin, Valeri Nichushkin, Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Popov, Alexander Radulov, Sergei Soin, Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexei Tereshenko, Viktor Tikhonov.
Defensemen: Anton Belov, Alexei Emelin, Andrei Markov, Evgeny Medvedev, Nikita Nikitin, Ilya Nikulin, Fedor Tyutin, Slava Voynov.
Goaltenders: Sergei Bobrovsky, Semyon Varlamov, Alexander Yeryomenko.