Tag: USA Hockey

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PHT Morning Skate: Team USA orientation camp kicks off today


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Team USA takes their first step in preparing for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Virginia today with the start of orientation camp. There won’t be any work on the ice (thanks, insurance costs) but there’s bound to be plenty of news from there. We’ll keep you posted. (USA Hockey)

Roberto Luongo is eager to get back to hockey now that he’s said his piece about his ongoing drama in Vancouver. (Canadian Press)

Is it going to be tough for the Oilers’ Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle to make Team Canada’s roster? Just how stiff is the competition? (Edmonton Journal)

Andrew Shaw’s stitches went for $6,500 on Ebay for charity. That’s… Really something else. (CSNChicago.com)

The Blues are hoping for Chris Stewart to step up his game after cashing in on a new deal with them. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Hockey Day in America: USA Hockey’s growth taking off in unexpected places

John Gaudreau, Jacob Trouba, Seth Jones

Today is Hockey Day in America, an all-day celebration of the sport throughout the United States. NBC will air nine hours of live coverage across its networks; here at PHT, we’re taking a look at stories of hockey’s impact across the country.

The U.S. hasn’t always been a world force when it comes to hockey, but these days it very much is.

Following Team USA’s second World Junior Championship win in four years, hockey is becoming a big deal in the States, thanks in large part to youngsters taking a shine to the game.

Over the past few years, USA Hockey has seen the growth of hockey in the country grow dramatically. Enrollment numbers have more than doubled since 1991-92, from just over 230,000 in that year to over 550,000 in 2011-12. When you factor in rising numbers of coaches and officials, the number of people actively participating in hockey is huge.

USA Hockey has come a long way in a short period of time, and we’re seeing that at the NHL level. When you turn back the clock to 1987-88 season, there were only 118 Americans having played at least one game in the league.

Now that number has more than doubled to 237 players.

Add in the fact that there are more NHL teams playing in the U.S. now than back then, and you’ve got a good explanation as to why the United States has become a force at the senior international level.

Much of it started at USA Hockey headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo. and Ann Arbor, Mich. As Mike Modano tells Mike Morreale of NHL.com, changing the world’s view of American hockey has been going on since the 80s.

“That perception they had about us … we were so young at the time that we wanted to change that perception. It was almost like the Europeans didn’t think we belonged on their level. We always wanted to prove to other countries that we could play with anyone.”

When it comes to the USA, you usually think of colder climate areas as the hockey hotbeds. But in recent years, non-traditional markets have become booming places for the game. As Chris Peters of United States of Hockey shared, growth in the Sun Belt states has been substantial.

California, for example, has seen enrollment rise 322 percent between 1990-91 and 2010-11. You only need to look at guys like California native Emerson Etem, a first-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks in 2011, to see how well things are working. In 2010, Beau Bennett became the highest-drafted California-born player ever when Pittsburgh selected him 20th overall.

The same can be said of Florida (804 percent growth) and Atlanta, GA (478 percent). Sure the Thrashers are gone, but the Lightning and Panthers are still going strong and helping spur interest in the game.

Those benefits are paying off with prospects coming from all corners of the country.

As an example, look where many players from this year’s gold medal-winning WJC team came from. Seth Jones, who could possibly be the No. 1 overall pick in 2013, is from Texas. Rocco Grimaldi is from California, and Shayne Gostisbehere is from Florida.

It speaks to how wide-ranging the game has become, which can only mean good things for the United States heading into the future.

Phil Housley to coach Team USA at 2013 World Juniors

Phil Housley USA Hockey

One of the greatest American players has been handed one of USA Hockey’s most prolific jobs.

Phil Housley, a seven-time NHL All-Star, has been named the head coach of the Team USA squad for the 2013 World Junior tournament in Ufa, Russia.

More, from NHL.com:

Housley, who was an assistant coach of the U.S. National Junior Team that won bronze in 2007 and 2011, guided the boys’ hockey team at Stillwater High School in Minnesota to a 12-11-2 regular-season record in 2011-12.

He was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004, the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame in 2007, and became only the 20th American inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame in May.

He’s currently eligible for enshrinement into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

This will be a significant tournament for USA Hockey. The 2012 team crashed out of the group stage, landed in the relegation round and finished in seventh place, the worst American placing since 1999.

As such, Housley is a significant hire. He’ll be expected to return Team USA to the glory that saw them win two golds and two bronzes from 2004-11, finishing no lower than fifth in any of the competitions.

Columnist: In deep U.S. goalie class, Quick is No. 1

Jonathan Quick

Interesting piece from USA Today’s Kevin Allen on the current state of American goaltending:

In 2010, Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller was the darling of the silver-medal winning U.S Olympic team. Eighteen months from now, when 2014 U.S. roster spots are being decided, Miller will have a fight on his hands just to make the team.

Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick’s stellar play this season, coupled with the continued improvement of Vancouver’s Cory Schneider and Detroit’s Jimmy Howard, gives rise to the notion that American goaltending might be the strongest it has ever been…

…You can be sure is that if the Americans were playing an Olympic gold medal game tomorrow, Quick would be the U.S. goalie. He has been spectacular enough this season that he has earned the title of the best American goalie right now.

Some thoughts on U.S. netminding:

— There’s a big difference between the current state and how it projects for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Put it this way: If the Olympic started tomorrow and I had to put a team together today, I’d make Quick the No. 1 with Miller and Thomas in reserve, solely for their playoff/big game experience.

But in 2014, the landscape will be entirely different. Thomas will be 40, Miller 34 and there’s a chance both could be supplanted by Schneider (who has already bumped Canada’s 2010 gold-medal winner, Roberto Luongo, out of a job in Vancouver) and Howard.

— I find it wild that a guy as decorated as Tim Thomas might never star internationally for the U.S. He wasn’t selected at the U-18 or Junior levels, played just seven games over the course of four World Championships and backed up Miller (playing just 12 minutes) at the Vancouver Olympics.

— Don’t discount a young guy stepping up and joining the fold in 2014 in a “learning experience” role (much like what the 24-year-old Quick did in 2010.) Dallas prospect Jack Campbell drew rave reviews in the AHL and has starred for the U.S. at both the U-18 and World Junior tournaments.

Who will coach Team USA at the 2014 Sochi Olympics?

Dan Bylsma

Yesterday’s announcement that Steve Yzerman will again GM Team Canada at the Winter Olympics got people thinking about the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia — that meant projecting rosters, lineups, management teams and of course, head coaches.

Over at ESPN, Craig Custance has compiled a list of potential American bench bosses.

[Note: Sounds like Brian Burke is likely to retain his role as GM. The architect of the silver medal-winning team in Vancouver, Burke was called “the front-runner,” by advisory committee member Dale Tallon.]

[Note 2: Of course, all 2014 Olympic posts should come with a disclaimer that NHL involvement is not guaranteed at this time.]

Currently, there are six American NHL head coaches: Joe Sacco (Colorado), Todd Richards (Columbus), Jack Capuano (New York Islanders), John Tortorella (New York Rangers), Peter Laviolette (Philadelphia) and Dan Bylsma (Pittsburgh). Custance lists Bylsma and Tortorella as two of the favorites — in the last three years Bylsma has won a Stanley Cup and Jack Adams while Tortorella has the Rangers atop the East and was an assistant coach in 2010.

Custance also counts recently-fired Leafs coach Ron Wilson as a legit contender as well. Yes, even though things could be incredibly awkward with Burke as the GM.

As for the others…Laviolette gets mentioned in “the field” of candidates. He’s coached the Americans twice at the World Championships but, unfortunately, was at the helm of the disappointing U.S. team at the 2006 games in Torino (one win in six games.)

Sacco, Gordon and Richards seem like longshots, though all three have international experience. Sacco played on eight different national teams and Gordon has coached the last two World Championship squads. Richards assisted Gordon at the 2011 WHC.

As for other names to keep an eye on? If Bylsma gets the nod, Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato could be joining him — Granato has head coach experience from his time in Colorado, making the playoffs in two of his three seasons. (Of note: Granato’s brother, Don, was named head coach of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program in Aug. 2011.)

Doug Weight could be one to watch as well. He’s currently assisting Caupano with the Islanders and represented his country on numerous occasions during his career, including a silver medal-winning performance at the 2002 Salt Lake games. He could bridge the gap between the new generation of American players, given he’s recently removed from his playing days.