USA Hockey is making a change at the top nine months before the 2014 Winter Olympics take place in Sochi, Russia. Greg Brady of Toronto’s Sportsnet Fan 590 reported today that Brian Burke will no longer return to the role he had in 2010 when he constructed the silver-medal winning United States squad.
It appears that USA Hockey wants a current NHL GM for the job, and Burke was let go as Toronto’s GM in January. Burke has been through a lot off the ice in recent years (ie. his son’s tragic death a week before the games began) and managed to stay committed to his job with USA Hockey and the Maple Leafs. He was praised in 2010 for passing over nation team staples (such as Modano) and going with a younger squad which many were making their senior team debut in any competition. That team lacked many household names but they managed to make a name for themselves on the ice as they didn’t lose a game until Sidney Crosby won Canada the gold medal on home soil in overtime.
Things are looking up for the Americans, as they are coming off a bronze medal win at the World Championships last week in Sweden. That team featured players whose NHL teams failed to make the playoffs and were led in goal by 19-year-old John Gibson who played last season for the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers and Norfolk Admirals of the AHL. Property of the Anaheim Ducks, he also won gold at the 2013 World Junior Championships. He appears to be long shot to swear the stars and stripes in Sochi due to the depth of goalies in pipeline. Those include Ryan Miller, Jonathan Quick (who was the third goalie in 2010), and Jimmy Howard (who played in last year’s World Championships).
As for who USA Hockey will name as Burke’s successor? Brady reported that Nashville’s David Poile is a strong candidate. Poile served as Burke’s assistant since 2010 and oversaw the World Championship teams in 1998 and 1999. In 1998 they finished 12th and had to play their way into the 1999 tournament via a qualifier. They parlayed that into a sixth place finish.
Other names who can be considered is Pittsburgh’s Ray Shero and Los Angeles’ Dean Lombardi. What is also unknown is if Ron Wilson will be back as head coach and even if NHL players will participate.