US Team Names Last Players to Roster
After adding six players to complete the U.S. Olympic roster Saturday, coach Herb Brooks called the process ``painful.″
``All coaches can tell you nobody likes to do this sort of thing,″ he said. ``So we took our time.″
On the last possible day to hand in rosters, Brooks and his staff chose forwards Mike York of the New York Rangers, Adam Deadmarsh of Los Angeles, Brian Rolston of Boston and defensemen Phil Housley of Chicago, Aaron Miller of Los Angeles and Tim Poti of Edmonton.
``We feel we have an even mix of physicalness, speed and finesse players, and enough to play both games if necessary,″ Brooks said.
General manager Craig Patrick called it a ``combination of flat-out All Stars and a very complementary group.″
Poti broke his finger Friday night, but Brooks and Patrick said they aren’t concerned.
``We understand he’ll have some surgery on it and be out 3-to-4 weeks,″ Patrick said.
When Poti was in New York to play the New York Islanders Tuesday he admitted, ``I always wanted to be an Olympian before I wanted to be a professional athlete.″
York, the 23-year-old wing from Michigan, has 37 points _ 15 goals and 22 assists _ this season, fourth-best in the NHL, but tops among U.S.-born players.
``He’s having an outstanding year,″ Patrick said. ``He’s someone who works hard all the time and he sees the ice well. He give you a lot of energy all the time. He’s a great addition, whether it’s even strength or killing penalties or on the power play. He has an awful lot to offer.″
Rolston, also from Michigan, entered Saturday’s game against the Islanders with 17 goals and 13 assists for Boston.
The 28-year-old player led Team USA with seven goals in eight Olympic contests in Lillehammer.
``It feels great,″ Rolston said Saturday. ``But you’re playing so many games you really can’t think about it much. Right now, now it’s just basically sinking in.″
Deadmarsh, who has dual citizenship because of an American mother and Canadian father, has 12 goals and nine assists for the Kings. He had one goal in the Nagano Olympics.
Both Miller and Housley drew high praise from Brooks.
Housley, the lone Minnesotan on the team, will be one of the older players, even though it will be his first Olympics.
``Phil is 38 going on 28,″ Brooks said. ``Age doesn’t seem to have taken its toll on his legs. He’s a free skater with really good mobility.″
Brooks added Miller ``grows on you.″
``He’s not going to blow you out of you seat,″ Brooks said, ``but he has very, very good mobility. He skates very well and he’s smart.″
Mark Parrish of the Islanders, Edmonton’s Craig Conroy and Dallas’ Derian Hatcher were among those seriously considered and could be called as backups in case of injury, though team management wouldn’t reveal a set list of reserves.
``With Parrish, I guarantee you,″ Brooks said, ``he’s highly thought of. We debated about him time and time again. It was a very difficult decision and great players like Mark made it that way.
``If we didn’t have injuries, I’d be surprised,″ Brooks added. ``So we’ll see what will happens.″
Hatcher was left off because Patrick and Brooks felt his skills might not transfer as well as some other players to the larger international ice surface.
But Patrick added Hatcher was ``considered very highly in this process.″
The Islanders released a statement from Parrish, who leads all U.S. players with 18 goals this season.
``More than anything I’m just glad the process is over,″ it said. ``I’m proud of the fact that I battled my way into consideration ... Every one of the guys picked deserves to be on that team, so there is no disappointment. Nobody will be rooting harder for Team USA than me.″
On Wednesday, goalies Mike Richter of the Rangers and Tom Barrasso of Carolina were selected, joining Mike Dunham of Nashville, who had been previously selected.
``We’ll try to find that hot goalkeeper,″ Brooks said. ``We do feel all three are big-time goalies who can play well in the European-type game, which is a lot more East-West. You have to be a little more compact and let the play come to you a little bit _ go post to post and use athletic ability.″
The forwards who were already named are Keith Tkachuk, Doug Weight and Scott Young of St. Louis, John LeClair and Jeremy Roenick of Philadelphia, Tony Amonte of Chicago, Bill Guerin of Boston, Brett Hull of Detroit, Chris Drury of Colorado and Mike Modano of Dallas.
Brian Leetch of the New York Rangers, Brian Rafalski of New Jersey, Gary Suter of San Jose and Chris Chelios of Detroit round out the defensive corps. Chelios is captain.
``We feel we have guys who can do a lot of things and play a lot of different roles,″ Patrick said. ``We have great depth. We feel we have a team that’s capable of winning a medal, hopefully, the gold.″