Whitney, Gleason chosen for US Olympic hockey team
Ryan Whitney of the Anaheim Ducks and Tim Gleason of the
Carolina Hurricanes were chosen Thursday to replace injured
defensemen Paul Martin and Mike Komisarek on the U.S. Olympic
Whitney and Gleason were selected from the pool of players who
participated in the team’s orientation camp last summer. The moves
to replace Martin and Komisarek were made less than two weeks
before the United States’ opening game in Vancouver against
Switzerland on Feb. 16.
Team USA general manager Brian Burke said Whitney and Gleason
have similar styles to the players they are replacing. That and
their previous participation in other international competitions
were key factors in their inclusion to the team.
“If you’re on a job site and you break a hammer, you don’t buy
a drill you buy another hammer,” Burke said during a conference
call. “Ryan is a guy that has size, is reliable defensively but
also moves the puck well, a la Paul Martin. Tim Gleason is a guy
like Mike Komisarek who can kill penalties, block shots, finish
checks and chew up some ice time against big bodies.”
Final rosters are due Feb. 15 when the U.S. team will conduct
its only pre-Olympics practice.
Martin of the New Jersey Devils was already out with a broken
forearm when the Olympic team was announced on Jan. 1. Toronto’s
Komisarek has been out since injuring a shoulder on Jan. 2 and will
have surgery that will sideline him for the season. Both players
withdrew from the team earlier this week.
“We have been prepared and we’re still prepared,” Burke said.
“There is a very good chance we’ll have other conference calls
because we’re going to have additional injuries between now and
when this tournament begins. We’re on our toes now. We actually
talked about the next group of forwards that we would tap if we
have a forward injury.
“I don’t like talking about injuries because as soon as you do,
someone gets hurt. But we’re trying to be prepared for every
eventuality at forward, defense and goal before we get on the plane
to go to Vancouver.”
Burke, who is also Toronto’s general manager, was placed in the
unique position of monitoring up close Komisarek’s quest to rehab
in an attempt to return to the Maple Leafs’ lineup as well as get
ready to play for the U.S. team in Vancouver.
But he said the lines were never blurred.
“The one ground rule we had clear right off the bat with Mike
Komisarek and with Paul Martin was that their NHL teams came
first,” Burke said. “Mike Komisarek is under contract to this
team for five years at a lot of money.
“There is no question that these players’ primary obligation is
to their NHL teams.”
The 26-year-old Whitney, in his first full season with Anaheim
after being traded last February by Pittsburgh, has four goals and
20 assists in 57 games. He played in two World Junior
Championships, and took part in the 2001 under-18 championship, as
Gleason, 27, had five goals and 10 assists in 48 games this
season with the Hurricanes. He has suited up for Team USA three
times, including at the 2008 world championships. Gleason was also
a two-time member of the U.S. national junior team.
“These are both players who were prominent as far as the
original decision in picking the teams,” Burke said. “Both
character guys. Both have gladly answered the call for Team USA
when asked in the past.”