Ryan Miller, the most valuable player at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, and Stanley Cup MVP Patrick Kane will head to Sochi looking for gold after being named to the U.S. Olympic men’s ice hockey team on Wednesday.
The U.S. roster includes 13 Olympians, who lost to Canada in the gold medal final four years ago on Sidney Crosby’s overtime winner, and U.S. general manager David Poile says the team heads to Russia targeting top spot on the podium.
Certainly the U.S. will enjoy a huge bump in experience in Sochi with Buffalo Sabres netminder Miller, Chicago Blackhawks sniper Kane and Minnesota Wild defenceman Ryan Suter, a Norris trophy finalist last season, anchoring the squad.
Goaltending will be a strength for the U.S. with the Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Quick, the 2012 Conn Smythe trophy winner, battling Miller for the starting assignment.
In Vancouver, the American team featured just three players with Olympic experience.
“We went through a very thorough process to get to today and could not be happier with the team we’ve selected,” Poile, general manager of the Nashville Predators, told reporters. “We’re fortunate to have probably the deepest talent pool we’ve ever had in our country and that made for some very difficult decisions.
“In the end, however, we’re confident we’ve selected a group of players that puts us in the best position to have success in Sochi.”
The announcement was made following the NHL’s outdoor Winter Classic between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings with kids called out onto the ice in front of over 100,000 roaring fans wearing a Team USA sweater bearing the name of each member of the squad.
The Americans will be grouped with Russia, Slovakia and Slovenia in the preliminary round of the Games in Sochi. Their first game will be February 13 against Slovakia.
Netminders: Jimmy Howard (Detroit Red Wings); Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres); Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings)
Defence: John Carlson (Washington Capitals); Justin Faulk (Carolina Hurricanes); Cam Fowler (Anaheim Ducks); Paul Martin (Pittsburgh Penguins); Ryan McDonagh (New York Rangers); Brooks Orpik (Pittsburgh Penguins); Kevin Shattenkirk (St. Louis Blues); Ryan Suter (Minnesota Wild)
Forwards: David Backes (St. Louis Blues); Dustin Brown (Los Angeles Kings); Ryan Callahan (New York Rangers); Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks); Ryan Kesler (Vancouver Canucks); Phil Kessel (Toronto Maple Leafs); T.J. Oshie (St. Louis Blues); Max Pacioretty (Montreal Canadiens); Zach Parise (Minnesota Wild); Joe Pavelski (San Jose Sharks); Paul Stastny (Colorado Avalanche); Derek Stepan (New York Rangers); James van Riemsdyk (Toronto Maple Leafs); Blake Wheeler (Winnipeg Jets)
(Writing by Steve Keating in Ann Arbor, editing by Gene Cherry)