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Penguins' Dan Bylsma selected coach for U.S. Olympic hockey team

In 2010, it was Brian Burke leading the way in assembling Team USA for the Olympics in Vancouver and then-Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson behind the bench.

This time, the tandem at the top for Sochi, Russia, in 2014 will be Nashville President and GM David Poile as general manager of Team USA, and the Penguins’ Dan Bylsma as coach. Burke, who is a consultant with the Anaheim Ducks, will serve as director of player personnel.

The announcements were made official Saturday at a news conference in New York.

“Hockey in our country has come to a point a point where winning gold medals is not a miracle, it’s an expectation,” USA Hockey President Ron DeGregorio told reporters on Saturday morning.

“So we’re ready for that.”

News of Bylsma's selection came two days after NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that his league is nearing an agreement that would allow its players to participate in the Sochi Games in the middle of next season.

The deal must be hammered out between the NHL, the International Olympic Committee and the International Ice Hockey Federation, scheduled to meet next week.

"We actually have scheduled for Monday to hopefully conclude that," Bettman said.

The U.S. bteam’s orientation camp will be Aug. 25-29 at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va. Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi was appointed to an advisory committee, along with a trio of NHL general managers.

Bylsma’s credentials include coaching the Penguins to the Stanley Cup in 2009 and winning the NHL’s coach of the year in 2011. He played for both the Kings and the Ducks, spending parts of five seasons with the Kings.

“Probably on our team in 2014, we’ll have the last two Conn Smythe Trophy winners,” Poile said of Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane and Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick.

“Our coach, in meeting with our committee, we wanted the obvious things. We wanted a winner. Somebody that could handle the star players that will be on this team. We wanted someone  that had the passion for hockey, passion for U.S. hockey, and we found our man.”

Byslma looked ahead to the transition of coaching the Penguins, the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and then going against them on the international stage in short order.

“On Feb. 5 and 6, I’ll be coaching Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to try to win hockey games for the Pittsburgh Penguins, “ he said. “And somewhere around the 9th and 10th, we’ll be dropping the the black and gold and donning the colors of the USA. We’ll be going right up against the players [I was] just coaching in Sidney and Evgeni. I think that could be a benefit.”

Byslma later joked about knowledge working both ways with Crosby, saying: “I’m a little bit concerned that he knows me as a coach and knows my strengths and weaknesses. He’s going to bring that to the Canadian team.”


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