With the 2022 Olympics less than a year away, USA Hockey announced updates last Wednesday on both the men's and women's Olympic teams. Stan Bowman and Wild GM Bill Guerin will serve as general manager and assistant general manager of the U.S. men's team, and the women's team will be headquartered at the Super Rink in Blaine.
USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher noted that it isn't yet certain that NHL players will participate in the Beijing Games, which run from Feb. 4-20 next year. Kelleher said he remains "hopeful and optimistic'' that an agreement will be reached with the NHL, and USA Hockey will proceed on the assumption that will happen.
Bowman is president of hockey operations and general manager of the Chicago Blackhawks. Guerin, in his second year as the Wild's general manager, played on three U.S. Olympic teams.
Bowman said an announcement of the men's Olympic coach is "not imminent.'' Asked about a timeline for confirming NHL players' participation, Kelleher said the league "continues to be in conversations,'' and that the International Olympic Committee is currently focused on the upcoming Tokyo Summer Games.
"That makes a challenge,'' Kelleher said. "We've always kept good contact with (NHL Commissioner and deputy commissioner) Gary Bettman and Bill Daly on this, as well as the (International Ice Hockey Federation) internationally. We'll continue our dialogue.''
Kelleher anticipates holding a players' orientation camp this summer, with the Olympic roster to be named on or about Jan. 1.
The women's Olympic roster also will be named around Jan. 1, after several months of preparations in Minnesota. Kelleher said USA Hockey will hold a national team selection camp at the Super Rink this summer, and the group chosen at that camp will train together in Blaine in the months leading to the Olympics.
Kelleher said the women's program will return to the Super Rink because "the setup there is outstanding,'' and because the area offers plenty of potential opponents for games.
The decision returns the U.S. women's program to the place where it held its first-ever residency program, during preparations for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. A locker room and training facility was built for the U.S. women's team at the Super Rink in 2008, and the team trained together in Blaine before the Vancouver Games. But USA Hockey chose the Boston area for the women's home base during the run-up to the 2014 Olympics, and the program moved to Florida to prepare for the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.
USA Hockey recently has been holding many of its major women's camps at the Super Rink, including the selection camp for the team that will play at the world championships May 6-16 in Nova Scotia.