Greetings from the University of Nebraska Medical Center where I have just been released after undergoing a minor surgery to replace my pacemaker this afternoon. As such, I’m tired, sore and this is going to be short and sweet.
Prior to today’s announcement, both Minnesota Wild alternate captains Zach Parise and Ryan Suter were said to be in the front running for the honor of captaining the United States’ Men’s Olympic Hockey Team in this year’s Winter Olympics. Unfortunately, there’s only one “C”, but it’ll be worn by Parise while Suter will back him up as an alternate. Three other NHL captains were also in the running, including St. Louis’ David Backes, Los Angeles’ Dustin Brown and the New York Rangers‘ Ryan Callahan. Brown rounds own USA’s team leadership as the second alternate.
Per the Minnesota Wild’s official team website, here’s the full info:
Two of the Minnesota Wild’s leaders will guide Team USA at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Forward Zach Parise has been named captain of Team USA, while defenseman Ryan Suter is one of the team’s alternate captains.
“Number one, to be named to the team is awesome,” Parise said. “But it’s a special thing to be named captain.”
This will be the second time Parise and Suter have represented the United States at the Olympics. In 2010 in Vancouver, both Parise and Suter served as alternate captains, where Parise scored the game-tying goal with seconds remaining in the Gold Medal Game. The Americans would lose to Canada in overtime to capture the Silver Medal.
With the National Hockey League players participating in Sochi, players from different clubs around the League will come together in the hunt for gold.
“I know a majority of the guys wear a letter with their own team and there are going to be plenty of guys capable of doing it,” Parise said. “I’m pretty humbled to be named the captain.”
Parise and Suter were both part of a leadership group that met during the summer. He said the summit was to get on the same page and open the lines of communication with the team early.
There was a lot of speculation in the past few weeks about who would wear the ‘C’ for the United States. Parise received the call on Tuesday and then went out and scored a goal and added two assists. He followed that up on Thursday in Colorado with two goals and two assists.
“I found out before our game in Anaheim,” Parise said. “(Pittsburgh Head Coach Dan) Bylsma (Team USA’s Head Coach in Sochi) gave me a call and told me who was going to be the assistants. It was a pretty nice phone call to get.”
As two Wild members will wear letters, Parise is glad to have Suter there to anchor the blue line and provide his own kind of leadership. The pair looks to improve on its second-place finish in Vancouver.
“He’s very capable of being the captain, too,” Parise said about Suter. “Ryan does a really good job here, leading the D and leading this team. We communicate well and we’re on the same page about a lot of things. It’s nice to have someone who thinks the game the same way and pulls the rope the same way you do.”
Minnesota’s own captain, Mikko Koivu, is expected to wear the “C” for Finland in the upcoming tournament. That, of course, depends on his health as he slowly yet surely continues to come closer to making his return to the Wild lineup after having surgery to repair a broken ankle. He’ll be joined by current Wild top line center Mikael Granlund, who played a huge role along with Koivu in leading Finland to World Championship gold in the 2011 tournament.