WASHINGTON -- Two things stood out from Team USA general manager David Poile's introductory news conference at U.S. orientation camp Monday morning. One, he said he expects Team USA to go to Sochi as one of the favorites to win the gold medal, a departure from the underdog label Brian Burke put on the 2010 team. And two, he said the pool of players to choose from is deeper now than it's ever been.
"We have way more depth and way more quality than in 2010," Poile said.
And that team was one goal from gold.
That depth is especially impressive in goal, where incumbent starter Ryan Miller is far from a lock to earn a roster spot in 2014 despite his impressive résumé. Poile made it clear that history matters, but it's not the only factor.
"Your body of work, what you've done in your career, is very important," he said. "Having said that, equally, if not more important, is what you're going to do in October, November and December."
Here's an early handicap of how the American goalies line up heading into the season:
Back in 2010, when Quick was in Vancouver as the third Team USA goalie (essentially to gain international experience at the highest level), I asked him what it was like to have the label of USA Hockey's goalie of the future. Even being at the Olympics in the flesh didn't make it any easier for the expectations that he'd be starting in goal for the Americans down the road.
"That's too hard to even think about," he said. He's accomplished so much since then that's it's almost hard to envision anybody else in Sochi as the American No. 1 goalie. He'll return to the Olympics, not as a kid gaining experience, but as an experienced goalie with a Stanley Cup ring, a Conn Smythe Trophy and a career playoff save percentage of .929, including .946 and .934 the past two seasons. He starts the season as the favorite.