The US men’s Olympic hockey team comes from all over the country, but five of them have one city in common: Pittsburgh.
USA Hockey announced today that Todd Reirden has been named one of Mike Sullivan’s four assistant coaches for the 2022 Winter Olympics, while Andy Saucier becomes Team USA’s video coach.
John Hynes (assistant coach Wilkes-Barre / Scranton, 2009-10; head coach, 10-15) is also one of Team USA’s assistant coaches, while Bill Guerin (player, 2009-10; development coach, 11-14; assistant general manager , ’14 -19) is the Assistant General Manager.
“Certainly a few other situations, be it Billy as general manager, Andy Saucier as video coach and then with me and John and Sully. These are exciting times,” said Reirden.
“It says a lot about the Pittsburgh Penguins and how they choose their people and the importance of doing your due diligence and finding people who you think will bring your team to success and eventually develop in this league can.”
It also says a lot about WBS, Pittsburgh’s subsidiary of the American Hockey League. Sullivan, Reirden and Hynes were once head coaches there, while Saucier started there too.
“I think it speaks volumes for how important Wilkes-Barre is to the organization as a whole,” said Sullivan. “I think it’s one of the best run teams in the American Hockey League and based on my experience there is a great tour there with (CEO) Jeff Barrett, (CFO / Executive Vice President) Greg Petorak and the guys that day for Day in and day this operation is performed. I think there is a lot of support from our ownership, financially and otherwise. I think the penguins appreciate the development process and the importance of it, not just from the players. “
Reirden said it was great for the Pittsburgh crew to reconnect with Hynes, now head coach in Nashville, and Guerin, now general manager in Minnesota, last week. The staff had gathered for a few days to begin preparations for the other big announcement that came today: NHL players will officially travel to Beijing after failing to attend PyeongChang in 2018.
“I think it’s a great decision and I’m glad everyone involved made it,” said Reirden. “I think the bottom line is really about building our game. And I think the National Hockey League has done a great job and the players have done a great job of doing it and making what I think is the best game. ” in the world.”
The last Olympic Games for NHL players took place in Sochi in 2014, where Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz helped Canada defeat Sweden in the Gold Medal Game.
That year, Team USA’s team also consisted of five members with Pittsburgh / WBS ties, starting with head coach Dan Bylsma – meaning the Penguins head coach was responsible for each of the last two NHL-included Olympics. The group also included assistant coaches Tony Granato and Todd Richards; associate GM Ray Shero; and Saucier, who acted as the video coordinator.
“It’s a great honor for what has happened in the past few years and it all starts here with the Pittsburgh management group and senior management people making the decisions from top to bottom,” Reirden said. “They did a phenomenal job attracting different kinds of people – people they knew could lead and teach the culture we expect here in Pittsburgh – and it’s great.”
Looking back even further, three of the U.S. Olympic head coaches have had Penguins ties over the past 20 years, with Sullivan, Bylsma, and Herb Brooks – who was a Boy Scout in Pittsburgh in 2002 when he led the Americans to a silver medal in Salt Lake City .
Of course, Brooks also sat behind the bench at the legendary Miracle on Ice in 1980, before that Badger Bob Johnson coached Team USA in 1976.
“I think the Penguins have such a long history in hockey, both in the NHL with what they did and by winning the Stanley Cup and having some of the best players of all time playing for them,” said Sullivan. “But also with what they have achieved on the international stage, especially when it comes to the American coaches. Herb Brooks, Badger Bob, Danny Bylsma – these guys are elite coaches for years. And I couldn’t be more humble to be part of this conversation. It is a proud moment for me to be part of this brotherhood. “
“Proud” was the same word Reirden used when describing his reaction to today’s news. It is his first time representing the United States at any level internationally.
“It has always been a dream, and definitely a big blow on my bucket list, to get an opportunity like this one day,” said Reirden. “Just feel so honored to have this opportunity. Every chance you have to represent your country is one that you don’t take lightly and of course it’s a very special moment.”
While the penguins are certainly well represented on the staff side, it remains to be seen whether this will be extended to the player side. But names like Jake Güntzel and Bryan Rust were certainly under discussion.
“I think we’re going to try to literally build a team and then the challenge will be to get together as a team in a short amount of time,” said Sullivan. “It’s going to be our challenge. I’m excited for the opportunity. When I look at some of the players we have to choose from, there will be some very, very difficult decisions to make. We have some really good American players.” our Pittsburgh Penguins list that will be part of that process, I’m sure. “