Rob McClanahan said he's always had a special relationship with the city of Buffalo.
One of the stars of the 1980 U.S. men's Olympic hockey team that famously won the gold medal in Lake Placid, McClanahan was a third-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in 1978, and he made his NHL debut with the Sabres following the 1980 Olympics.
McClanahan will return to Buffalo as the coach of Team McClanahan at the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game, to be played Sept. 29 at First Niagara Center, home of the Sabres. The game will feature 40 of the top American-born prospects eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft.
U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer and fellow Sabres alum Phil Housley will oppose him as the coach of Team Housley.
McClanahan currently works for the Craig-Hallum Capital Group, a financial services company based in Minneapolis. He also coaches youth hockey, but not at the level he'll see at the All-American Prospects Game.
"It's fun for me to be part of it," McClanahan told NHL.com. "I have very little impact, and will have very little impact, on this particular game or what these kids end up doing. If I'm able to shed some light, in some respects, to help them cross that threshold [to the NHL], then that's great."
McClanahan had five goals and three assists in seven games in Lake Placid, including the game-winning goal in the final game against Finland that clinched the gold for the U.S. team. After debuting for the Sabres with seven points in 13 games late in the 1979-80 season, McClanahan played parts of four more NHL seasons, with the Sabres, Hartford Whalers and New York Rangers, finishing with 38 goals and 63 assists in 224 games.
While his coaching now consists of working with local boys and girls teams -- among them his daughter's peewee team -- McClanahan said there was no hesitation when USA Hockey Assistant Executive Director of Hockey Operations Jim Johannson asked him about getting involved with the next generation of NHL stars.
"I'm a big supporter of USA Hockey and a believer in it," McClanahan said. "When Jimmy Johannson asked me if I'd be interested, I said sure. That and the fact that I haven't been back to Buffalo in quite some time. That's the team that originally drafted me. There's some interest there as well."
McClanahan said he doesn't know any of the players he'll be coaching -- a group that includes Portland Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones, a candidate to be the first player picked at the 2013 NHL Draft; Oshawa Generals forward Cole Cassels, the son of former NHL player Andrew Cassels; and U.S. National Team Development Program forward Hudson Fasching, ranked as an A player to watch by NHL Central Scouting -- but certainly is excited to see them in action.
"I'm excited to see all of them," McClanahan said. "I haven't focused on any one particular kid. That's not my intention. There are a couple aspects that are of interest for me. They're coming together in a short period of time. They've probably played together on USA [Hockey] teams, but they're playing a one-game deal here. Part of it is trying to make it as much a team-oriented atmosphere as possible, and yet let these kids show their abilities, their capabilities. That's the blend you're trying to mix."
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK