The setting for the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic was not lost on 2010 U.S. Olympic Team General Manager Brian Burke
as he stood in center field just before noon Friday at historic Fenway Park.
But Burke's attention was not on the Philadelphia Flyers
and Boston Bruins
as the puck drop on the third annual NHL Winter Classic approached. Instead, his focus was making sure he was able to be in personal contact with each of his management team's selections for the U.S. squad that will compete in Vancouver next month at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The process had begun a couple of hours earlier in the day and as the clock in right field prepared to strike 12 (noon), Burke had two issues -- a cell phone that was getting sporadic reception and two players that he and his management colleague, Nashville Predators
' GM David Poile, still had not been able to reach.
"You getting reception?" Burke asked NHL PR official Gary Meagher.
"Yah, four bars," Meagher responded.
As Burke paced around the spot that Fred Lynn had patrolled in center field for the Red Sox from 1974 to 80, the communications issue was resolved and the final calls were made.
"Bobby?" Burke said. "On behalf of USA Hockey, we would be honored to have you wear the Stars and Stripes at the Olympics next month."
The recipient of the call, Bobby Ryan
of the Anaheim Ducks
, had the exact same reaction that each of the 21 players who had who received calls earlier in the day.
"They are absolutely thrilled and honored to represent their country in what will be an unbelievable hockey stage," said Burke.
Twenty-two calls down and one still to go. The last player who still had not been contacted, defenseman Mike Komisarek
of Burke's Toronto Maple Leafs
, finally was tracked down as Burke drifted into left center field, steps from the Green Monster.
The 30-second conversation with Komisarek went exactly the same as the others. "We are honored to have you represent your country in Vancouver," Burke said.
A process that began more than four months earlier at the U.S. Olympic orientation camp in Chicago was finally complete. The 13 forwards, seven defenseman and three goaltenders who will represent the U.S. at the Olympic Winter Games were ready to be announced on the ice at Fenway in the area between the pitcher's mound and second base.