2014 US Olympic Camp: Zach Parise & Ryan Suter Lead, Take The High Road

The hockey fix we are all looking for is almost here.

Monday kicked off the United States National Team Orientation Camp. Forty-eight players, including 14 Minnesotans (plus former Wild head coach and Minnesota native Todd Richards, who is serving as an assistant), are near the nation's capitol in Arlington, VA taking part in the two day event.

However, it isn't a full hockey fix. The United States Olympic hopefuls, like their Canadian counterparts, are not getting on the ice due to insurance reasons. There was some on-ice coaching of the next generation of American hockey greats, but today was spent talking to the media, doing interviews and taking care of the little stuff. The things that need to get done. They make you better in the long run.

It's kind of like when in D2: The Mighty Ducks the US Junior Goodwill team did not go on the ice and instead ventured into a South Central LA street hockey game.

(On a side note, who was in charge of watching those junior high-aged kids? Sure, it paid off with new lessons in both life and hockey along with a new player in Russ "Knucklepuck" Tyler, but who lets an entire team go unsupervised after taking the word of a single hater child? I hope they were fired. Not even in the 90s is that cool. And today? Imagine how much of a scandal that would be with Facebook and Twitter.

Actually seeing tweets like "Bombay has his team chasing a beach ball. Team Iceland just walked in. More on this later," would be awesome.)

Despite the lack of an on-ice practice, there still was plenty of news Monday. It was also positive.

Both Minnesota Wild camp attendees - forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter - were named as members of the United States leadership group by American GM David Poile. Both players were members of the 2010 team which won a silver medal in Vancouver and look to make a return appearance in Sochi, Russia this February.

The other three as reported by Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune are former Minnesota State and St. Louis forward David Backes, New York Rangers captain Ryan Callahan and Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown.

Yep, Dustin Brown. The same Dustin Brown who was suspended for three games for concussing Minnesota forward Jason Pominville. Not the most loved player in Wild country, the appointment of Brown alongside Suter and Parise points out the strange bedfellows of country coming first. Everyone is American and that means you're going to make some odd choices.

Like rooming with a young player or taking the high road when asked about something concerning a former team.

Poile, whose day job is the Nashville Predators GM, has Suter rooming with Predators rookie defenseman Seth Jones during Orientation Camp. Credit to the United States personnel head given his history with Suter. The 28 year-old defenseman learned his trade with the Predators before famously leaving Nashville for Minnesota in free agency; a point which is still sore and open in the Music City. Just last week Predators head coach Barry Trotz stuck out his neck by saying that he'd like to kick Minnesota's butt for doing so.


Although a lesser man might steal another Nashville player (Jones offer sheet in 2016?) because apparently that's what Ryan Suter does if you're around him long enough, in this case the move makes more sense than holding onto a grudge.

Who better for a young defenseman to learn the ropes from than an American veteran? Suter knows how to adjust from the expectations of being a top ten pick to playing in Nashville. Just being around Suter and being able to both ask questions and witness how he goes about his day is beneficial for Jones.

Parise, meanwhile, faced questions about former New Jersey teammate Ilya Kovalchuk bolting for Russia three years into a 15 year, $100 million contract.

That deal made it easier for the Bloomington, MN native to sign with his hometown team (remember that day last year?) and it would have been easy for Parise to take a little pleasure in what happened. Or even just pull a "no comment." He didn't, telling Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski, "It’s too bad for the (Devils) organization, because (Kovalchuk's) a star player. And it’s too bad for the League because he’s a star player."

Translation: we all lose. Instead of being the team's fault, the onus is on the player even if it's uncharacteristic of previous behavior.

“When someone signs a long-term deal like that, you assume he’s going to be there," Parise said. "I didn’t expect he’d leave at all.

“I was surprised. I didn’t see that coming. At all. Because I never got any inkling of that when I played with him, while I was there. Everything was fine."

That's the type of player who you want to lead. Someone who takes the high road, honoring their commitment.

Then again, it isn't like Dustin Brown is missing that too despite the awkwardness. Plus in true Mighty Ducks fashion, everything works out in the end for Jason Pominville. Russo, who is in DC covering the United States' camp,  revealed that the Wild forward and duel Canadian/US citizen is being reconsidered by Poile after his Orientation Camp snub.

Other Notes:
-Tomorrow (August 27th, 2013) at 10:30 a.m. CT is the unveiling of Team USA's 2014 Olympic jersey. While we should cover it as a moonlighting fashion blog, there's enough on our plate here. Proud American/former USA Hockey PR guy Chris Peters believes this is the crest the team is using

You can watch the unveiling at USAHockey.com.

-The USA roster announcement is scheduled around New Year's Day. That makes sense as the 2010 team was announced like an NBA team following the Winter Classic in Boston.

-Ryan Suter with kids? Ryan Suter with kids.

Follow First Round Bust on Twitter @FRBHockey. You can also follow Nate on Twitter @gopherstate.

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