The U.S. Men’s Olympic hockey team will have a decidedly Rangers flavor.
Ryan Callahan, Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan were formally named to the U.S. Men’s Olympic hockey for the 2014 Sochi Games following the Maple Leafs’ 2-1 shootout win over the Red Wings in the Winter Classic.
The 2014 Olympics will mark the second time Callahan will participate in the Olympic Games, while McDonagh and Stepan are first timers.
“It’s exciting, it’s a big honor,” Stepan said in a conference call late Wednesday afternoon with Callahan and McDonagh. “It’s a great honor. I wasn’t sure if I was going [to be on the team] or not and it’s something I’m very grateful for.”
Joining Callahan, McDonagh and Stepan on the team are goaltenders Jimmy Howard (Detroit Red Wings), Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres) and Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings); defensemen John Carlson (Washington Capitals), Justin Faulk (Carolina Hurricanes), Cam Fowler (Anaheim Ducks), Paul Martin (Pittsburgh Penguins), Brooks Orpik (Pittsburgh Penguins), Kevin Shattenkirk (St. Louis Blues) and Ryan Suter (Minnesota Wild); forwards David Backes (St. Louis Blues), Dustin Brown (Los Angeles Kings); Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks); Ryan Kesler (Vancouver Canucks), Phil Kessel (Toronto Maple Leafs); T.J. Oshie (St. Louis Blues); Max Pacioretty (Montreal Canadiens); Zach Parise (Minnesota Wild); Joe Pavelski (San Jose Sharks); Paul Stastny (Colorado Avalanche), James van Riemsdyk (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Blake Wheeler (Winnipeg Jets).
Notable omissions from the Olympic team included New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider and New York Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo, both of whom were among 48 players USA Hockey invited to the Aug. 26-27 orientation camp at the Capitals training facility in Arlington, Va.
“To be honest with you I haven’t had a chance to look at [the roster construction] too deeply,” Callahan said. “[I] just [found] out [I made the team] about a half hour ago. From the guys that were named, everyone’s talented. It looks like we’re going to have a fast group [for] the big ice, which I think is good. That many talented players on the team I think we have a good shot.”
Team USA is one of the pre-tournament favorites to medal, due in part to winning silver at the 2010 Vancouver Games, a team Callahan was on. Heading into Russia, he is part of the player leadership committee, along with Backes, Brown, Parise and Suter.
“I think the biggest thing I took out of Vancouver was how fun it was, and how much of an honor it was, how proud I was to represent the USA and our country. You don’t know how many chances you’re going to get at it and now I have another crack at it,” Callahan said. “I think being over there, it’s a weird style tournament, round robin, stuff you’re not used to. But I’m going to try to enjoy the overall experience again and thankful I have another shot.
“It’s an experienced group. I think it’s our role to set the tone of the team and try to create an identity as fast as you can in such a short amount of time. The big thing of our success in 2010 was putting a team together pretty quickly and establish the way we want to play. Our leadership group with that team did that and now it’s passed on to us and we have to do the same going into Russia.”
Prior to Team USA’s first game against Slovakia on Feb. 13, though, there are 17 NHL regular season games to play in order for the Rangers to attempt to develop some positive traction. Stepan acknowledged it could be a challenge to concentrate on the immediate task with the Olympics looming.
“It’s hard not to think about [the Olympics],” Stepan said. “But at the same time you [have to] focus on what you have in front of you that night and that’s going to help you take steps toward the Olympic stage.”
Pyatt on waivers
The Rangers placed left wing Taylor Pyatt on waivers yesterday. Pyatt has not played since Dec. 12, and has one assist in 22 games.
There is speculation the roster move was done to create an opening for Callahan, who is on the road trip with the Rangers and has practiced with the team, as he deals with a sprained knee.
However, when asked for an update on his status, Callahan said, “No real update, nothing’s changed from the last practice.”
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.