There was a bit of nostalgia in Ryan Suter's voice at the USA Hockey's Olympic orientation session Tuesday, as he talked about how close his team came to a Gold medal in Vancouver.
Suter is no stranger to international competition, having already represented America in Vancouver. He also was a member of the first U.S. World Junior National Team to take home the Gold at the 2004 World Junior Championships. Having tasted international Gold and disappointment in Vancouver, Suter’s goal is to stand on the top podium in Sochi.
"It could be your last chance to represent your country on the world stage,” the Wild blueliner said about the significance of the upcoming Olympics events. “It could also be the last time you get to play with these guys (from other NHL teams) and so you want to make the most of it."
Suter and fellow Team USA orientation camp invitees, including Wild teammate Zach Parise, were part of the unveiling ceremony of the country’s new Olympic hockey uniform. The jerseys are dark, navy blue, with an enlarged USA Hockey crest on the front, and feature vertical red and white stripes below the USA logo on the crest. The alternate uniform is dark navy blue at the top, with the lower two-thirds white, separated by a horizontal thick red stripe. On the inside back of the jerseys, where the label would normally be found, is the inscription " Land of the Free, Home of the Brave." The NHL Network's Kathryn Tappen emceed the ceremony.
For his part, Team USA Head Coach Dan Bylsma said, "(This is) the highest honor of my career.” He added, “as I grew yup playing hockey, before I ever thought about winning, or coaching a Stanley Cup-winning team, I thought about winning the Hockey Gold Medal at the Olympics.”
Bylsma will be concentrating on coaching the Pittsburgh Penguins during the regular season, while paying special attention to the U.S.-born players invited to the Olympic team who are playing against the Pens. He said all the assistant coaches and Olympic team General Manager Dave Poile, of the Nashville Predators, would be watching each one of the 48 players selected in order to make the best possible choices for the Olympic squad.
Although the selection process is still in its infancy, Suter and Parise should be shoe-ins to make the team and represent America for the second-straight Olympics.
Special to Wild.com from Andrew Guthrie