"To be trusted with this responsibility, in this role of serving my country, is one of the highest honors of my career," Lombardi said Thursday. "I can assure you that myself and my staff will do everything in our power to make this country proud."
During his opening remarks, Lombardi, the president and GM of the Los Angeles Kings, trotted out mileposts of the growth of USA Hockey, framed by the program's twin peaks of excellence: the 1980 Olympic gold-medal winners and the 1996 World Cup championship team.
Lombardi also provided a bit of a history lesson, pointing out that many of the world's great leaders were eventually felled by their egos or the lure of fame and fortune.
The exceptions, he said, were Roman general Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus and George Washington, the Revolutionary War hero and America's first president.
"Washington could have easily made himself king and fell prey to his ego, but he said no. He recognized that there was a higher cause, accepted a lesser role, and pursued a Republic which became a foundation of this great country," Lombardi said. "It is safe to say that Washington might in fact be this country's first great teammate, and if our players can learn a small percentage of his definition of the word 'team,' then we cannot help but be successful."
USA Hockey also announced the rest of the management team for the World Cup on Thursday, tabbing Paul Holmgren of the Philadelphia Flyers as assistant general manager, Brian Burke of the Calgary Flames as senior adviser and Jim Johannson of USA Hockey as director of hockey operations.
Lombardi says his vision of the U.S. team is one in which the players bury their egos for the good of the whole and embrace the legacy that has been formed by those who came before them.
Lombardi drew a direct line from the 1980 Olympic team, which shocked the world by upsetting the heavily favored Russians and eventually winning a wholly unexpected gold medal, to the 1996 World Cup team that again shocked the hockey world by beating the heavily favored Canadians on their own soil.
Now, that legacy must be embraced by the players selected to represent America in the 2016 World Cup, Lombardi said.
"Now it is up to this generation of great players. It is up to the [Zach] Parises, the [Ryan] Suters, the [Ryan] McDonaghs and the [Jonathan] Quicks to understand their legacy, and to build upon that legacy and inspire the next generation of great American players," he said.
But Lombardi brings more than just a burning passion to the position; he brings a history of winning in the NHL.
Lombardi's Kings have won the Stanley Cup twice in the past four years and have been in the postseason in every season but one since 2009. He has been involved in NHL management for four decades, serving in various roles with the Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, San Jose Sharks and Minnesota North Stars.
Lombardi has also been part of the U.S. Men's National Advisory Board since 2009.
Lombardi and his staff will be responsible for picking the 23-player roster to represent the United States in the 2016 World Cup, an eight-team tournament that will run Sept. 17-Oct. 1 in Toronto.
The first 16 players of the roster must be named by March 1, 2016, and the final roster must be submitted by June 1, 2016.
Lombardi is not sure what form his team will take, but he said that the management group is busy identifying the core players and the rest of the team will be formed around those players. He did not deny that there could be some significant turnover from the team that struggled at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
"We've had some lengthy meetings a couple of weeks ago, but what I would say is we could certainly foresee a number of changes," Lombardi said. "You still have to let some things lay out, obviously, in this coming season, so I think in a sense you kind of have your three templates, what we played with the last time, what would be a stable team but also looking for the possibilities of those players that could supplant those.
"So that's what's kind of on the board right now. It's still too early to tell, but I can tell you that we're certainly prepared for that."
He also said the U.S. will be a physical, north-south team, a reflection of the NHL teams iced by the men on the management staff.
Lombardi does not know who will coach the team, but he clearly has some candidates at the forefront of his mind.
"If we find the right guy, I have no problem with naming [the coach] as soon as possible," he said. "We've kind of started the process. Other than when [Johannson is] comfortable with the timing, I think we're going to try and move on that sooner than later. I think it's important to get that person on board because of some of the things that we have to be in lockstep and the type of players we want in the system we want to play. And the sooner we can get at that, the better."
Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden, Team Europe and the North American Youngstars are the other teams in the tournament.
Team Europe will be comprised of European players outside of those from the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden. The North American Youngstars roster will feature under-23 players from Canada and the United States. Those teams will be picked by management teams named jointly by the League and the NHL Players' Association.
Author: Shawn Roarke | Director, Editorial
AMERICAN FLAMES PLAYERS/PROSPECTS: Brandon Bollig, Johnny Gaudreau, Bill Arnold, Drew Shore, Kenny Agostino, Tim Harrison, Garnet Hathaway, Patrick Sieloff, Jon Gillies.