USA Hockey Sets Pre-Olympics Roster: Eight former Gophers have been named to the U.S. National Team’s Men’s Hockey Orientation Camp roster, the first step in possible membership on the 2014 Olympic team. Seven are active players while the eighth is a former Minnesota standout and current NHL head coach.
Former Defenseman, current NHL head coach named:
Todd Richards will be one of three assistant coaches for the pre-Olympics team.
Former Gopher captain Todd Richards will be one of three assistant coaches for the pre-Olympics team. Richards, head coach of the Columbus Bluejackets, was named along with Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette and Pittsburgh Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato.
Richards, who was also head coach of the Wild for two seasons, patrolled the Gopher blue line for four seasons (remember when that could happen?) and was a second-round draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens. His most productive season at Minnesota was 1986-87 when, as a sophomore, he scored 51 points and posted 70 penalty minutes in 49 games.
Ex-Gopher Players named: Seven ex-wearers of the Maroon and Gold will have a shot at the 2014 Olympic squad when orientation camp is held August 26-27 in Arlington, VA. Named to the 48-man roster are:
Nick BjugstadErik JohnsonNick LeddyPaul MartinPhil KesselKyle OkposoBlake Wheeler
Both Johnson and Kessel have skated for the red-white-and-blue previously. Both were on the 2010 silver medal team in Vancouver. Richards competed as a player in the 1994 games in Lillehammer, Norway.
The 2014 Winter Olympics will be held February 12-23 in Sochi, Russia. If even one of the ex-Gophers named to the pre-Olympics roster makes the final Team USA cut, it will continue a long tradition of U.M. players in the Olympics. At least one current or former Gopher has been involved in every Olympics since 1936,counting Herb Brooks' stint as coach of the French team in 1998.