...yes, that's right, the Olympics. As someone who always gets caught up wondering why the US can't get over that hump when on foreign soil, last night I took the role of Larry Pleau/Brian Burke and thought about who I'd select to go to a cut-down camp. If anything, I tended to look for good young players who have the speed that could keep up with the European nations.
So, here's Turd Ferguson's Vancouver Games Camp Invitees, with a bit of comment after each group:
Goaltenders - Ryan Miller (Buffalo), Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles), Al Montoya (Phoenix), Tim Thomas (Boston), Scott Clemmensen (New Jersey), Ty Conklin (Fuck Detroit)
Notice that the two goaltenders who always seem to pop up on US national teams, Rick DiPietro and Robert Esche, aren't on here because of the fact that they're some combination of crap, over-the-hill or DiPi. Of my picks, Miller and Thomas are no-brainers, Clemmensen was excellent for the Devils this year when he got thrusted into the starting job after Brodeur's injury, Quick has showed a lot of promise on a very young Kings team, and Montoya/Conklin have international experience.
Defensemen - Jack Johnson (Los Angeles), Ron Hainsey (Atlanta), John-Michael Liles (Colorado), Mike Komisarek (Montreal), Matt Carle (Philadelphia), Rob Scuderi (Pittsburgh), Zach Bogosian (Atlanta), Tom Poti (Washington), Brian Rafalski (Fuck Detroit), Ryan Suter (Nashville), Jordan Leopold (Cal/Gary), Matty Niskanen (Dallas), Matt Greene (Los Angeles), Mark Stuart (Boston), James Wisnewski (Anaheim), Erik Johnson (Blues)
You can really see the youth here: the oldest players on the defensive list are Poti and Rafalski, but many of these defensemen have played a lot of international games on the Junior teams/during the Worlds. Komisarek, Poti, Hainsey or Stuart could easily wear the "A" among this group.
Forwards (*asterisk denotes centerman, ALL CAPS means player is under the age of 26) - DUSTIN BROWN (Los Angeles), DAVID BACKES* (Blues), T.J. OSHIE* (Blues), PHIL KESSEL (Boston), MARK PAVELSKI* (San Jose), Mike Modano* (Dallas), Chris Drury* (New York Rangers), Scott Gomez (New York Rangers), KYLE OKPOSO (New York Islanders), PATRICK KANE (Chicago), Keith Tkachuk (Blues), Brian Gionta (New Jersey), ZACH PARISE (New Jersey), Tim Connolly* (Buffalo), JASON POMINVILLE (Buffalo), DUSTIN BYFUGLIEN (Chicago), RYAN KESLER* (Vancouver), BOBBY RYAN (Anaheim), Erik Cole (Carolina), Chris Clark (Washington), PAUL STATSNY (Colorado)
Out of this group of 21, a full 12 are under 26, and we also have 4 NHL captains (Brown, Clark, Modano, Drury) as well as 4 NHL alts (Walt, Gomez, Pominville, Kesler). You can see that I looked for a lot of fast players who have junior international experience (many of these guys have at least medaled in the U18s or WJC), as well as a few "energy" guys like Byfuglien. I could honestly see a few Blues come out of this hypothetical group to an Olympic team, especially if they want Keith to be a leader.
I'd appreciate your views/suggestions on the list, what you want to see Team USA look like, what kind of photos Rick DiPietro has that keep him as the top goalie, etc. This is all speculating, and honestly I don't know if USA Hockey will pick a team based more around an NHL style of play, especially considering they're playing on a 200x85 rink.