With the absence of NHL players heading to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea this coming February, Team USA had to dig deeply into the college hockey, prospect, and, unsurprisingly, former NHL-er pools to scrap together a medal-worthy team decent enough to represent the United States of America.
You may have glazed over the fact that four former Penguins and one former coach made the final cuts. They include right winger Mark Arcobello, defenseman Noah Welch, left winger Chris Bourque, and named Head Coach Tony Granato.
** Update: Former Wilkes-Barre Scranton right winger Chad Kolarik is also a past Pittsburgh player.
To be fair, and to put it, um, lightly, a couple of guys off that list didn’t have much success in Pittsburgh, but it’s still fun to note they came through its system.
Noah Welch was traded for Gary Roberts in 2007, and has had a long, winding career. The fact that he made this final roster is interesting solely for Welch’s sticktoitiveness in playing in a lot of leagues after not being able to hack the NHL.
Chris Bourque is known mainly for being Ray Bourque’s son, but his talent as an AHL-calibre forward, especially in scoring, with the Hershey Bears hasn’t gone unnoticed. He was even voted as the winner of the Les Cunningham Award, the AHL MVP title, in 2016.
Bourque also resembles Vanilla Ice, which is neat.
Former coach Tony Granato has seemingly been everywhere, yet nowhere notable since his departure from the Penguins. However, he’s currently in the second year of his head coaching gig with the Wisconsin Badgers men’s team with a record of 20-15-1 so far.
The Winter Olympics kick off February 8, and the ice hockey tournaments are slated to commence February 14-25. The United States is in Group B and will face Slovenia for its first matchup in the 2018 Games.