Hard to believe, Harry, that Team USA would announce its Sochi Olympics roster at the Winter Classic and a firestorm of controversy would erupt.
Some of it had to do with USA Hockey allowing two reporters to be embedded with them for roughly four months. Their reporting in USA Today and ESPN.com was nothing short of eye-opening and outstanding journalism.
Yet the behind-the-scenes look into the selection process and subsequent comments from Team USA officials angered and offended both fans, and some players -- Bobby Ryan -- in particular.
As did Brian Burke’s comments after the selections were made. His back-and-forth with Ryan was an embarrassment for everyone concerned.
My sense is that the next time Team USA picks a roster, there won’t be any embedded reporters despite the fact the reporting made for compelling reading.
Still, hockey fans were livid at the exclusion of Ryan and to a lesser extent Jack Johnson.
We caught up for Colorado’s Paul Stastny, who made the U.S. squad, this week to get his take.
You surprised Bobby Ryan wasn’t picked?
“Yeah, I am,” Stastny replied. “He’s having an unbelievable year. He’s a pure goal scorer, 30-plus goal scorer since he entered the league. If it weren’t for a shortened season, he would have played a full 80 games.
“So I am. It’s out of our hands. There are probably always a rhyme or reason why certain players or certain teams are picked. You leave it up to management and what they do.”
What about Jack Johnson on defense?
“I don’t know,” Stastny said. “There are so many defensive players. Whether you are chosen or not, there is a lot of depth in USA Hockey and it’s grown over the course of the last six years. Just look at the Under-18 and 20s.
“You get more Americans playing the game. Either way, if someone does get hurt, the next in line is going to be just as good. Probably one through eight for d-men, and one through 14 for the forwards.”
The other side here is what does it say about the enormous growth of American hockey that genuine stars can now be omitted from the roster?
Who would have thought that possible 20 years ago at the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway?
“Yeah it’s a good problem to have,” Stastny said. “It shows that the youth movement is going and that USA Hockey is doing a good job in growing the sport in America. That’s good to see. The more depth you have, the more selections you get.”
Here’s some fan feed from Twitter:
Agreed. Gave USA Hockey a black eye and forced Team USA personnel to issue an apology. Not the best of days for USA Hockey.
@tpanotchCSN Why are the Flyers writers so enamored with Ryan? Bc he is from NJ?— Michael Carney (@carneytruth) January 1, 2014
Name me another current NHL player from our area who is as good as Bobby Ryan.
I keep saying this. The day the Flyers made the trade for Luke Schenn, the Coyotes offered Yandle to them hours before at the draft and GM Paul Holmgren turned them down. Same deal as what Toronto got.
@tpanotchCSN Orpik = Bylsma. I don't get Ryan not fitting. Attitude issue? He is on a whole different level than Wheeler.— Akbar (@AdmiralAnnoyed) January 1, 2014
To be honest, Orpik is terrific on the Pens, but on a big sheet of ice, he is slow. That said, I would take Orpik on the Flyers over a number of Flyers defensemen.
@tpanotchCSN Biggest joke in the world, a goal scorer who doesn't fit.— Peter Stukas (@PJStukas) January 1, 2014
I do “get it” about the team concept. Over the years, we’ve heard that you don’t put an All-Star group together for the Olympics, but a group that you feel can complement each other to becoming a team rather quickly for a short tournament. Bobby Ryan should be on this team.