Winter Olympics 2014: Peter Laviolette named assistant coach for USA, five Flyers invited to orientation camps
With Friday's announcement that NHL players will be cleared to play in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, more and more countries have been releasing their preliminary Olympic camp rosters. But arguably the biggest news for the Flyers came on Tuesday morning, when it was announced by USA Hockey that Peter Laviolette was named one of the three assistant coaches for Team USA.
Laviolette's coming off of a bit of a rough year in 2013, complete with speculation on his job security, and he's entering what's quite obviously going to be a make-or-break year for him as head coach of the Flyers. But he's still a good coach, he has experience at this stage -- having coached Team USA in the 2006 Olympics -- and the reports out there had him as one of the final candidates for the head coaching position right up until Penguins coach Dan Bylsma was given the title. So his being named to this position isn't that surprising.
But yes, he'll be sharing a bench with noted friend Dan Bylsma. And also other noted friend and Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato, who was named a Team USA assistant on Tuesday as well. Hey, anything ever happen between those guys?
Oh, right. That. Well, let's hope that's all blown over. (But in seriousness, Laviolette and Granato are good friends and should be fine together on the bench.)
Laviolette will also be joined on the bench by Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards.
In terms of Flyers players who may be headed to the games, several countries released their preliminary lists on Monday, and a few familiar faces were present:
* Claude Giroux was the lone Flyer in the 47 players invited to Team Canada's camp. Given Giroux's ascent over the last three seasons into one of the best forwards in the league, it's incredibly difficult to imagine him being kept off of the Canadian roster barring some sort of injury next season. He'll be one of many very talented forwards in what will surely be an incredible group of skaters undone by questionable goaltending. Let's hope, at least.
* Kimmo Timonen was one of 54 players on Team Finland's roster. He's one of only five NHL defensemen among those ranks, and almost certainly the best one out of them, so it's highly likely that he'll make the final cut there. (Though on the offchance that someone in Finland feels differently, I think we'd all secretly be OK with Kimmo getting a three-week break in the middle of the season.)
* Erik Gustafsson and Nicklas Grossmann were both among the 35 players (31 NHLers) invited to Sweden's camp. Both of them, given Sweden's depth at the blue line, are definitely long shots to make the final roster, barring some sort of unconscious tear for Gustafsson at the beginning of next season, but they'll be at camp at the meantime.
* Apparently Slovakia already had some sort of camp in early July, and per the KHL's HC Slovan Bratislava the invitees were announced in June (s/t @BoltProspects), but Andrej Meszaros was one of 36 Slovaks invited to their camp. Who knows if he'll even be a Flyer by then, but as one of only five NHL defensemen on the list, he's a pretty safe bet to make that squad.
We're still waiting on a few other countries, but we can think of two other Flyers that have good chances to play for their countries in Sochi:
* Jakub Voracek will definitely be on the Czech Republic team's preliminary roster, and I'd imagine he's pretty close to a lock to make the final cut there as well. There are a lot of good Czech forwards out there, but given that Jake's coming off a year where he topped all of them in scoring he's probably one of the favorites to make that team and get good minutes for them.
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