Kudos to Callahan Team USA made another late roster addition on Thursday. New York Rangers right wing Ryan Callahan was whisked to Russia to add depth to the Team USA roster.
A fourth-round draft choice (127th overall) of the New York Rangers in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Callahan is a 22-year-old native of Rochester, N.Y. The addition of Callahan to Team USA caps off a storybook first pro season for the 5-foot-11, 185-pound winger. He began the season with Hartford of the AHL, where he potted 35 goals and totaled 55 points in just 60 games.
Those gaudy numbers earned him a promotion to Broadway, and he supplied four goals and six points in an energy role during his 14 regular season games with the Rangers. Callahan added two goals and three points in 10 NHL playoff games this spring.
“Callahan has real good speed and real good talent,” says Ray Shero, advisory council GM for Team USA. “He likes to make contact. He played two series with the Rangers, and I saw a big development in him from the start of the year in Hartford through the end with New York.”
Shero should know. As the Pittsburgh Penguins’ GM, he sees the Rangers eight times a year.
The Right Stuff Although it did not come away with hardware at this tournament, Team USA acquitted itself well. The first World Championship was held in 1910, and the Americans have won gold only twice: in 1933 and in 1960.
Team USA did earn a bronze medal in the 2004 Worlds and with the program on the upswing and under the direction of some of the brightest hockey minds in the U.S., more medals may be on the horizon for the Americans.
Architect of the Alps In our first ever encounter with Team Switzerland head coach Ralph Krueger, we came away impressed. His team doesn’t have the talent level of some of the others in the tournament, but the Swiss bunch is always well prepared and we enjoyed watching them play.
One reporter noted that the Swiss seem to get up for the games with the giants of the world – they downed Canada 2-0 in the 2006 Torino Olympics – but Switzerland sometimes has difficulty with the lesser teams. His response was so compelling that we feel compelled to share it.
“The reality is with the puck we’re not better than all those countries,” says Krueger. “Most of them are better than us: Latvia, Belarus, Denmark with those young forwards. With the puck we are the same as all those countries. Why we’re eighth in the world is we’re better without the puck. We play harder and we play better as a group and it’s really the team concept that the guys have bought into, and that willingness to work without the puck that never shows up in any statistics and is difficult even for media to pick up. In North America, it took a long time before somebody like Bob Gainey got respect.
“When I came to Switzerland, the national team was built only on offensive players. Every single player was a good offensive player in the league. It was the hardest sell I had the first four or five years was that we were taking a lot of players who weren’t showing up in statistics, that weren’t top 10 even on their teams in scoring. We’ve got players who are fourth line players from the Swiss League on our team. It’s a hard sell and I’m forever getting executed because of our selections. But I don’t care about that; I care about building a team that has a chance here. Realistically offensively we’re 8-16 [in the] world, but it’s our game defensively without the puck that gives us a chance every day.
We have skilled guys here. We have very skilled guys, but we don’t have all the skilled guys. Because then we wouldn’t even be here. We wouldn’t be playing anymore. Eight teams have gone home and we’re still here, and it’s not because we do it pretty. We don’t ever do it pretty.
Swiss Mystery When the Swiss took on Team Canada in Thursday’s semifinal contest, they had a mystery man on their bench. Team Switzerland featured a defenseman wearing uniform No. 77 who logged a lot of ice time in all situations, and acquitted himself quite well.
For all we know, he may have been Ray Bourque. (Likely not, because he was much taller and didn’t have Bourque’s trademark caboose.) This No. 77 is not listed on the Swiss roster. When he was in the penalty box in the second period, the space for his name on the scoreboard next to the penalty time was left blank. There is no No. 77 listed anywhere on the postgame summary sheet either.
Maybe we never even saw any of this?
Pregame Practice An interesting pregame routine takes place here prior to each of the games. When the players come onto the ice for the start of the contest, the two captains approach the referee’s window. They remove their gloves and exchange what look to be small replica flags or something of that nature. Then they shake hands with each other, and the on-ice officials. As soon as that ritual is complete, they skate deep into their own end of the ice where they huddle football-style with all 21 of their teammates around their own net and goaltender.
On This Date in Hockey History We never let this one pass without a mention. On this date (May 10) in 1970, Boston Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr scored 40 seconds into overtime to give the Bruins a 4-3 win over the St. Louis Blues and their first Stanley Cup championship in 29 years. Orr took a pass from Derek Sanderson in the corner, skated toward the net and tucked the puck past Blues goalie Glenn Hall just as he was upended by St. Louis rearguard Noel Picard.
The goal also produced what is arguably the best hockey photo ever, one of a gleeful Orr suspended in mid-flight with arms outstretched over his head, while Picard looks over his shoulder in disgust.