Team USA roster winners and losers
January, 2, 2014
By Craig Custance | ESPN Insider
Dave Sandford/NHLI/Getty ImagesPhil Kessel and Jimmy Howard are on opposing NHL clubs, but will be Olympic teammates.As Team USA Olympic GM David Poile went down the list of players he hated to leave off his Olympic roster, he worked in so many names that it started to sound a bit like an Oscar acceptance speech where the winner tried to cram in everyone they could. (Tim Thomas. Cory Schneider. Jack Johnson. Bobby Ryan. Jason Pominville. Ben Bishop. Keith Yandle. Jacob Trouba. Kyle Okposo. Dustin Byfuglien. Erik Johnson. Justin Abdelkader.
On and on, he went.
"I'm sure I'm going to leave off some guys," he said, as he worked through each position. "It could have been a short answer. There is no short answer."
Poile helped Brian Burke assemble the 2010 American team that finished second to Team Canada in Vancouver. The decisions then, he said, didn’t compare to what the Team USA braintrust had to deal with this time around, debates documented so well by colleague Scott Burnside, who was given full access to the process.
Now he knows exactly how Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman is feeling right now.
"If I can say this the right way, this is the first time we're having to make similar decisions that Canada has had to make for years, where we're leaving off top, top players," Poile said.
Here’s a look at winners and losers from the big unveil at the Big House on Wednesday:
Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings. He is the classic case of a body of work winning over performance this season, although it’d be easy to see a strong performance in the Winter Classic mixed with the Olympic announcement leading to a rebirth of his season. "This is really surreal," Howard said Wednesday. "The last 24 hours -- participating here in the Winter Classic, being named to Team USA -- it's been a great 24 hours. Very memorable for my family and myself as well."
Howard hasn't been particularly good this season, with a mediocre .907 save percentage that puts him below a number of American goalies in that category. If we were just looking at recent play, you probably could make a better case for Al Montoya (.934) than Howard. But this is about familiarity and experience. Poile knows Howard well from competing against him in the Central Division for years.