Now that the agreements between the NHL players, NHL owners and IOC/IIHF has all been ironed out to allow NHL player participation at the next Olympics, an eye can be turned towards imagining the rosters of the different countries.
Pittsburgh head coach Mike Sullivan has been tabbed to be the head coach of Team USA, and it looks like USA Hockey is wisely allowing Sullivan to surround his coaching and support staff with a list of names that he is very familiar with.
Five Pittsburgh connections for Team USA:— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) September 3, 2021
1. Mike Sullivan (head coach)
2. Todd Reirden (assistant coach)
3. John Hynes (assistant coach)
4. Andy Saucier (video coach)
5. Bill Guerin (assistant general manager)
This is nothing new, in 2014 for the last time NHL players played in the Olympics, then-Penguin coach Dan Bylsma was the head coach for the Americans with a staff that included assistants Tony Granato and Todd Richards, the associate was GM Ray Shero and Saucier, also served as the video coordinator.
Going back further, Team USA and the Pittsburgh Penguins have often been closely linked with names like Herb Brooks and “Badger” Bob Johnson as key figures for the nation’s hockey team as well as the local NHL franchise.
In addition to Hynes and Reirden, Sullivan’s staff will be rounded out with former Rangers head coach David Quinn, who is a long-time Sullivan friend from their days playing at Boston University. Former NHL goalie Ryan Miller will also be on-hand to help with coach the goalies.
The next and unknown step will be just how many Penguin players will join their coach over in China.
“I believe we’re going to try and build a team in a true sense of the word, and then the challenge is going to be to try to come together as a team in short order,” Sullivan said. “That’s going to be our challenge. I’m excited about the opportunity. When I look at some of the players that we have to choose from, there’s going to be some very, very difficult decisions. We have some real good American players on our Pittsburgh Penguins roster that will be part of that process, I’m sure.”
One player who ought to keep his passport at the ready is Jake Guentzel, who on a fan poll looks incredibly likely to be selected to the Olympics. Fans were less bullish on the prospects for the two Brian/Bryan’s in Dumoulin and Rust, however they figure to be players that Sullivan will certainly introduce to the discussion of the selection process.