USA Hockey Assistant Executive Director Jim Johannson announced Thursday that Los Angeles Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi will serve as the GM for the United States’ team at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which will take part in Toronto between September 17 and October 1, 2016.
Philadelphia Flyers President Paul Holmgren will serve as the Assistant General Manager, Calgary Flames President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke will serve as Senior Advisor, and Johannson will serve as Director of Hockey Operations.
Because we’re about to convene for a meeting at the Kings business offices, this story will be posted now and updated throughout the afternoon. Several quotes directed to Dean Lombardi are below; more will be added shortly.
Dean Lombardi’s opening statement:
Thank you. First of all, I’d like to thank USA Hockey, Gavin Regan, Dave Ogrean and Jim Johannson for granting me the privilege of serving as General Manager of the U.S. World Cup team. To be trusted with this responsibility, in this role of serving my country, is one of the highest honors of my career. I can assure you that myself and my staff will do everything in our power to make this country proud. This team will be constructed on a basis of two overriding themes. One, is the complete emphasis upon team, and team will be defined as burying your ego and its nefarious agents: power, fame and fortune. The team will be defined as accepting your role, and team will be defined as the pursuit of a higher cause. Fortunately, this country is blessed from its inception with one of the greatest world models for this definition of team. Until the late 1800’s, every military commander that achieved significant success on the battlefield, that saved or established the country, went on to be King or Emperor. All of them fell prey to ego in fame, in fortune, in power, regardless of the consequences, all except two – the great Roman General Cincinnatus and our founding father George Washington. Washington could have easily made himself King and fell prey to his ego, but he said ‘no.’ He recognized that there was a higher cause, accepted a lesser role, and pursued a republic which became a foundation of this great country. It is safe to say that Washington might in fact be this country’s first great teammate, and if our players can learn a small percentage of his definition of the word ‘team,’ then we cannot help but be successful. The second theme closer to home will be the importance of understanding your legacy and your obligation to maintain and build upon that legacy. It is only fitting that this announcement takes place in Lake Placid, New York, the site of the greatest spiritual victory in the sport of ice hockey for this country. It is an illustrious example of the power of team, the example of power of burying your ego, the power of accepting roles, and the power of the pursuit of a higher cause. It was powerful enough at that time to galvanize an entire country in what were dangerous times in this country’s history, and it was powerful enough to transcend generations, and it lives today and must continue to in the future. For I will submit that Johnson, Broten, Ramsey, Morrow, Craig, Pavelich, are the founding fathers of the greatest American team ever assembled. They were instrumental in inspiring a generation of impressionable youths that became the 1996 World Cup team – the team with the talent and the will that knocked off all the great hockey powers. The 1996 World Cup team, oh my God. The grace of Leech, Modano, and Weight; the toughness of Guerin, Tkachuk, Deadmarsh, Hatcher; the goal-scoring prowess of Hull and Leclair; the speed of LaFontaine and Amonte; the relentlessness of Chelios; the timeliness of Richter. This group of athletes compiled a startling collective resume. Six Hall-of-Famers, 23 Stanley Cups, 87 All-Star Games, 13 first All-Star team selections, 16 second All-Star team selections, five Norris Trophies, one Hart Trophy, a Vezina Trophy, seven players with over 1,000 points in the National Hockey League, and in lest people think that team was soft, seven players with over 1,000 minutes in penalties, and you could probably say eight because Chelios did enough for two people with 2,000. Despite this startling record of individual accomplishments like their forefathers in 1980, they buried their egos, they accepted their roles, and they pursued a higher cause. And you can rest assured, that in the last five minutes of that deciding game in a hostile environment, when Tony Amonte scored that game-winning goal, somewhere, somewhere in that building was the spirit of Mike Eruzione. Now it is up to this generation of great players. It is up to the Parises, the Suters, the McDonaughs, and the Quicks to understand their legacy, and to build upon that legacy and inspire the next generation of great American players.
BRB, picking up my musket and fife to volunteer for Dean Lombardi's militia.
— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) August 6, 2015
Q: Obviously to be two-plus years out from the 2014 Games, plus we’re going to play on a different ice surface, with those two factors, Dean, not specifically, but in general, do you expect to have a fair number of changes from what we saw in 2014?
A: I think it’s a little early to tell. We’ve had some lengthy meetings a couple of weeks ago, but what I would say is we could certainly foresee a number of changes. You still have to let some things lay out, obviously, in this coming season, so I think in a sense you kind of have your three templates, what we played with the last time, what would be a stable team but also looking for the possibilities of those players that could supplant those, so that’s what’s kind of on the board right now. It’s still too early to tell, but I can tell you that we’re certainly prepared for that.
Q: Sort of in the same vein … with respect not to the roster but to the style of play – going from European ice, 2014 to NHL ice surface in 2016 – the template, the style of play that you initiated in 2014, how much of a change would you anticipate there?
A: Well, I probably tipped you off by the two people I hired that are closest to me in Paul Holmgren and Brian Burke. I think one of the reasons – obviously there’s a lot of qualified people – but for sure, I know the type of teams they believe in, and has been mentioned on the small ice surface, so that’s probably all you need to know. Look at the two people I hired next to me. How’s that? We all [come] from the same handbook.
Q: What’s your timeline on naming a coach? When will that occur?
A: coach? I think we’d like to do it – if we find the right guy, I have no problem with naming it as soon as possible. We’ve kind of started the process. Other than when JJ’s comfortable with the timing, I think we’re going to try and move on that sooner than later. I think it’s important to get that person on board because of some of the things that we have to be in lockstep and the type of players we want in the system we want to play. And the sooner we can get at that, the better.
Q: About teamwork – is that a representation of something you want to have, or something you feel that USA teams have lacked in recent years?
A: No, I think the purpose of that was to continue that legacy. I think those teams were incredibly versed in those three things I talked about – role, higher cause and ego. I just think that has to be constantly reinforced. I think the challenges for young players today, it gets harder and harder to teach and have those values recognized, even though they are the hallmark of sport, and I just have such admiration for the history of this program and US Hockey that I think it transcends hockey, and I just think it’s very important that we learn from that history and continue that on. I don’t think it’s good if I ask a player, a top player right now, does he know who Paul Holmgren is, or Mark Johnson, or Gary Suter. I think that’s important. I think it’s more just making sure we don’t lose what we stood for and the things that happened in this building, because that’s what makes us special.