Pacioretty an overlooked weapon for USA

Max Pacioretty can emerge as an vital weapon for Team USA, as they set their sights on gold in Sochi. G Fiume/Getty Images

From the moment the Olympic teams opened their orientation camps to the moment they officially announced the rosters, the hockey world was gathering clues as to who might make each team. You’d ask Steve Yzerman about P.K. Subban and he’d deftly broaden the subject out to generic comments about style of play. You’d try to pry information from David Poile and he’d politely answer the question without ever painting himself into a corner.

Looking back, only once in my conversations with Poile did he tip his hand. It came following the USA Hockey Hall of Fame celebration in early December, when we were talking goaltending. I asked specifically whether or not Craig Anderson could overcome a slow start, get hot and still make the team. At the time, he had slipped to a distant fifth or sixth on the American depth chart.

Poile changed the subject completely.

“Rather than answer that,” Poile said, “you could say, somebody like Max Pacioretty, who probably was a guy right there in a group of guys who had a good chance to make the team. He didn’t play particularly well at the beginning of the year, then he got hurt. Now, he’s playing well. Can his last two or three weeks get him on the team?”

Looking back, he was already starting to build his case for Pacioretty, a guy there wasn’t much buzz about. Now we know the answer to Poile’s rhetorical question.

Pacioretty is not only on the team, he may quietly be one of the most important players for Team USA.