Ryan Omission Represents Breakdown in Philosophy Amongst American Execs.

12:22 PM

By Chris Doud

In a  two week tournament of best on best winner takes all for world supremacy, the intensity of each match will sure to garner the same respect and accolades lauded toward the NHL each spring for their grueling post season campaign.  An entire about for Gold crunched into the frame that would roughly be the span of a single playoff series, there is little room for error in constructing the squad which will represent our nation proudly.  Heaven knows the Canadians and ultra-motivated Russians will shuffle constant waves of lines built to keep puck and attack at will, as each of their potential forward lines likely will consist of top-line NHL talent.  Which is why not selecting Cherry Hill New Jersey native Bobby Ryan, currently leading the Ottawa Senators in goals with 18 and 2 points behind Erik Karlsson for the team lead (38/36 respectively at the time of this publication) could likely haunt the squad.

 "We did not pick the 25 best players," general manager David Poile said. "We picked the 25 players we thought gave us a chance to win the gold medal." A mentality akin to the legendary Herb Broks in his philosopy of not necessarily picking all the most talented players but the right players needed for that 1980 squad you may have heard a thing or two about.  As illustrated by Scott Burnside for ESPN, the issue came up in regards to Ryan as such:

The issue is where he fits. If he's not a top-six forward, his skating doesn't really lend itself to him being a third-line checker. He cannot kill penalties, and while in Anaheim, he was not on the team's top power-play unit.

What this shows is an NHL mentality on forming a team which may not be appropriate for an Olympic tournament to be played on the larger ice surface.  Selecting someone such as Ryan Callahan or Derek Stepan to do what they do well playing a third line checking role along the boards and in front of the net has its merits in smaller surface where board play can be key.  However they could very well find themselves out of position while a quick transition team makes its way up ice through the neutral zone.  In addition, the option to throw at least three offensive lines over the boards at any moment keeps enemy defensive efforts on their toes and can be much for most teams to handle.  Instead the Americans will watch in awe as their neighbors to the north do just that.

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