After the Winter Classic between Detroit and Toronto, the roster for Team USA hockey at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia was revealed in front of 100,000+ fans.
Before you read, we may as well link you to the only story that seemingly matters in its wake: the comprehensive, insider back story from ESPN's Scott Burnside. It is one of the best hockey articles in terms of access and quotables that you will read for quite some time, and it's impossible to look at David Poile and company's selections for the roster without them.
Zach Parise, Patrick Kane, Dustin Brown, David Backes, Paul Stastny, Phil Kessel and I suppose Ryan Callahan (even though he'd been injured) are the non-surprises here based on reputation. Joe Pavelski has turned into one of the most exciting American forwards going. James van Riemsdyk most certainly played his way on in the last couple of years in Toronto, as did Derek Stepan in New York. Max Pacioretty and TJ Oshie are a bit surprising, but hard to debate as far as credentials
It is the selection of Blake Wheeler that has and will draw the ire and question of many. A fine player with size, for sure, with 15 goals and 31 points on the season… but as somewhat of an extra player over, say, Bobby Ryan? Ryan gets lambasted unlike any player aside from defenseman Jack Johnson in the Burnside piece, and it's hard not to feel for the New Jersey native. Kyle Okposo, who despite playing at the Olympic-sized rink of the University of Minnesota, was deemed not suitable for the big ice in the Burnside piece.
Boy, oh boy is this gonna be interesting when we get to Sochi. Ryan Suter, Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Shattenkirk… no brainers, absolutely fine, and they're gonna end up logging a lot of minutes in the fortnight. Cam Fowler and Justin Faulk are intriguing youngsters playing at an elite level, and John Carlson has been around awhile, but many believe has only brought himself to the team through his play this season.
Then there's Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin, who… I don't know. Does anyone else just get the sense that we can do better than that? Keith Yandle being left off the team is something else, but there's also Erik Johnson, Dustin Byfuglien, Andy Greene… even Seth Jones. I guess there's no argument until we see it in action, but those are real iffy choices for me.
Quick, Miller, Howard. Fine. Money in the bank. Cory Schneider was worthy of consideration, and probably had a better first half than Howard, but I accept his demotion for the more experienced Howard.
The full rosters for the U.S. men's and women's hockey teams in Sochi are as follows.
U.S. Men's Olympic hockey roster
Ryan Kesler, Vancouver; Dustin Brown, Los Angeles; Patrick Kane, Chicago; David Backes and T.J. Oshie, St. Louis; Zach Parise, Minnesota; Joe Pavelski, San Jose; Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk, Toronto; Derek Stepan and Ryan Callahan, NY Rangers; Paul Stastny, Colorado; Max Pacioretty, Montreal; Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg.
Ryan Suter, Minnesota; Ryan McDonagh, NY Rangers; Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik, Pittsburgh; Justin Faulk, Carolina; John Carlson, Washington; Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis; Cam Fowler, Anaheim
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles; Ryan Miller, Buffalo; Jimmy Howard, Detroit
U.S. Women's Olympic hockey roster
Alex Carptenter, Kendall Coyne, Julie Chu, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan, Lyndsey Fry, Amanda Kessel, Hilary Knight, Jocelyne Lamoureux, Monique Lamoureux, Kelli Stack
Kacey Bellamy, Megan Bozek, Gigi Marvin, Michelle Picard, Josephine Pucci, Anne Schleper, Lee Stecklein
Brianne McLaughlin, Molly Schaus, Jessie Vetter