6:15 pm, Boston: Brian Burke’s comments from Fenway Park are below. My reaction:
The first thing you realize about Team USA’s decision to pass on Kyle Okposo is that Scott Gordon clearly had no say. For the last 100 games, Gordon has played Okposo in every situation and in just about every position except goal. The Islanders are not world-beaters, but Gordon coaches Okposo like he’s world-class.
I’ll just say what I told several writers on press row after the USA announcement. I’m a big fan of David Backes and Ryan Callahan. However, it is completely impossible to have watched Okposo, Callahan and Backes play this season – as Brian Burke said his committee did dilligently – and determine that Okposo was the player to keep off the team.
On the positive side for the Islanders, this will make Okposo a better and more rested player this season and a better player for years to come.
You can count on Okposo to be extremely polite in his response later tonight. That’s the kind of young man he is, and it’s also smart personal marketing. Although I don’t think he will be the first forward Burke calls if one gets injured, he’s probably in the top three.
Last thought, separate from the Okposo argument. I don’t see Team USA challenging for a medal with this lineup, even if Ryan Miller makes miracles.
5:30 pm, Boston: Brian Burke comments:
- On Kyle Okposo: “I think Kyle Okposo is going to be a very important player for USA Hockey for years to play. He’s a big player, skilled player, very coachable. No minuses. Just not experienced enough at this point.”
Burke cited RW Ryan Callahan for his foot-speed and said he was top-five in the NHL in hits.
- “It’s critical that guys who were left off play hard and stay in the drug-testing program. There will be guys injured and they need to be ready.”
Burke said his committee contacted all players who have been on the Olympic team before or were a part of the evaluation camp were contacted and told to keep their heads up and continue to play their best.
- “Chris Drury was picked because he is Chris Drury.”
Burke added that USA wanted five centers. He called Joe Pavelski “a Swiss Army knife as a hockey player.”
4:20 pm, Boston – Chris Drury is a center and he has scored plenty of huge goals in his career, so don’t make this about him. I have some thoughts and will share them after I get through all this Winter Classic stuff.