Team USA Opens Camp

Woodridge, IL – The United States’ quest for 2010 Olympic hockey gold began as some of the NHL’s best American-born players gathered in Woodridge, IL for the first day of the United States Olympic hockey orientation camp.

Many fans camped out the night before to be assured of a seat for the first practice. It was like waiting to buy tickets for a rock concert…but, without any stars. As U.S. Olympic hockey team GM, Brian Burke put it, “We don’t have any stars in this camp. We’re going to play an up-tempo game. Our job is to find the “specific skills” in players to fit the puzzle”.

The new U.S. Olympic hockey team jerseys were unveiled prior to practice. But as Brian Burke mentioned, it’s not the design of the jersey that’s important. “The make-up of each player is what really counts. I met with U.S. Olympic basketball Dream Team mastermind, Jerry Colangelo weeks prior. He told me his number one goal was to foster leadership. Not from one person…but, from a group of leaders”.

Prior to today’s orientation camp, each player was required to read “Survivor”. Burke is especially happy to have a proven leader like Chris Drury on the team. The leadership “mindset” is also important to U.S. Olympics hockey head coach, Ron Wilson, “Tonight the players will be introduced to ‘real heroes’. U.S. Army veterans and Navy Seals will be paying a visit.” The team also expects future visits from U.S. Olympic “Miracle on Ice” players, Mike Eruzione and Jack O’Callahan.

Having leadership is one thing. Stopping the biscuit and/or putting it in the net will ultimately determine whether the 2010 U.S. Olympic hockey team makes it to the awards podium in Vancouver. Next to leadership, Brian Burke is placing great importance on finding a goaltending tandem that can stop some of the best scoring snipers in the world.

Bruin’s goaler and Flint, Michigan native, Tim Thomas has the most goaltending experience on the squad. Can the team find balanced scoring out of the twenty plus forwards at orientation camp? Look for Patrick Kane, Mike Modano and Chris Drury to get long looks. A mix of youth and experience will be key. The U.S. Olympic hockey team won’t have the luxury of practicing together in the lengthy manner of the European teams.

1980 was the year of the “Miracle on Ice” U.S. Olympic hockey team gold-winning victory. That same year, Brian Burke was enrolled at the Harvard School of Law. If the upcoming Olympic hockey competition resembled a court case, Brian Burke’s “summation” would include a wish for a team with heart and talent.

U.S. Olympic Hockey Orientation Camp Notes

Look for the final squad to be named in December 2009… The Patrick Kane / Buffalo “cab issue” was not a major story at today’s camp… Over 1,200 hockey fans packed the Seven Bridges Ice Arena. Hundreds of fans were turned away.

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