Ryan was one of the biggest surprises among the omissions from the team. Articles written by Scott Burnside of ESPN.com and Kevin Allen of USA Today, who were embedded with the management team during the selection process, revealed criticism of Ryan, particularly from the player’s former general manager Brian Burke. Burke, the president of hockey operations for the Calgary Flames, serves as the director of player personnel for the Olympic team.
“Unfortunately the comments were a little harsh,” Poile said. “The problem, and the communication breakdown that we had, was we thought this was similar to HBO ‘24/7’ situation where we had editorial review on what was going to be said. It caught all of us off guard. That’s on us. It’s a little bit of a breakdown.”
Like defensemen Erik Johnson and Jack Johnson, Ryan was a member of the silver-medal winning team from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics who was considered a strong candidate to go to Russia. Like both Johnsons, Ryan did not make the team.
The articles from Burnside and Allen revealed Ryan was just outside the roster, not making the cut along with Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad in favor of forwards Blake Wheeler of the Winnipeg Jets and T.J. Oshie of the St. Louis Blues.
Poile has said on multiple occasions in the past that the U.S. management team would take the bigger ice surface into consideration. Ryan’s perceived lack of elite skating ability was reported as a factor in leaving him off the team, but Burke also criticized Ryan’s demeanor and said he lacked intensity.
“I am trying to apologize if I can to Bobby Ryan,” said Poile, who noted that he called Ottawa GM Bryan Murray and Burke reached out to Ryan. “If that was said about me or one of my players, or I was Bryan Murray or Bobby or his agent, I would be very upset with this. I've apologized as much as I can.”
Poile pointed out on the conference call that when each member of his management group submitted a final roster, Ryan was on Burke’s team.
“As far as denigrating any player, none of us signed up for that,” Poile said. “Unfortunately this was too much. I totally apologize to Bobby Ryan and on behalf of Brian Burke, who was absolutely [Ryan's] biggest supporter on our staff.”