One of the hottest topics this hockey offseason is the agreement between the NHL and the IIHF that will allow NHL skaters to play for their countries during next year’s Olympic games. Both sides are to meet early next week to lay out the framework and come to an agreement on such an arrangement.
While the agreement is a mere formality, it hasn’t stopped Team USA to start choosing people for important roles in this Olympic cycle. On Thursday night, USA Today reported that Dan Bylsma, head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, has been selected to be the head coach of Team USA in Sochi. Three executive positions have also been announced: David Poile, general manager of the Nashville Predators, has been named general manager; Ray Shero, general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, has been named associate general manager; and Brian Burke, consultant to the Anaheim Ducks, has been named director of player development.
The hiring of Bylsma to be the coach for USA Hockey is a smart move. He’s a well-respected coach throughout the NHL, and his love for not only hockey but for his country is known throughout hockey circles. Upon learning that Bylsma was tapped by USA Hockey for the position, Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review sent out this anecdote on Twitter:
I wore a Team USA hoodie to some random morning skate at Long Island in Feb. Bylsma looked at me proudly. USA hockey means a ton to him.
— Josh Yohe (@JoshYohe_Trib) June 28, 2013
Bringing on Poile as general manager was the move that many people thought USA Hockey would make. While Burke did a great job with the club in the Vancouver Olympics, USA Hockey likes to select a current NHL general manager to be the GM for Team USA. That automatically ruled out Burke for the GM’s position, but USA Hockey still wanted Burke’s input during this Olympic cycle. The trio of Poile, Shero, and Burke will have their hands in every personnel decision for the Americans and will make them one of the favorites for gold in Russia.
The official announcement by USA Hockey will be on Saturday in New York City, which comes on the eve of the NHL Draft.