Well, we’re just kicking off 2018 with a bang, aren’t we?
On Monday, USA Hockey officially announced the final Olympic roster for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
You can look at the final roster here (although we still don’t know whether Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Gigi Marvin will be playing as forwards or defenders because USAH and the Olympic Twitter tweeted out two different lineups!).
We knew these cuts were coming thanks to a report from Brad Elliot Schlossman for the Grand Forks Herald a couple of weeks ago, who cited three sources all saying that the final cuts would be Alex Carpenter and Megan Bozek.
We’ll say that again- Alex Carpenter and Megan Bozek aren’t on the Olympic roster.
We’ll give you a few seconds to scream before continuing this article.
It’s ok, we aren’t either. Anyways.
Let’s talk numbers for a second.
Carpenter was an Olympian in 2014, scoring four goals (the most on Team USA). She also scored the game-winning goal in overtime to defeat Canada in the gold medal game at the 2016 IIHF World Championships. She’s a Patty Kazmaier winner in 2015 and was nominated again the year after that; during her senior year playing for Boston College, she scored 88 points.
In USA’s six-game series against Canada (not including Four Nations), Carpenter had the third-most points for Team USA with three goals and an assist; only Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker scored more.
Bozek was also an Olympian and has been a staple on Team USA’s blue line for years. In the eight games she’s played with the national team this year, she’s collected one goal and three assists. But she’s been a part of USA Hockey since 2007, when she made her first U18 team. She played in her first Worlds in 2009 and has been on the roster for every major IIHF event since 2012. She’s played 71 games with USAH and has 47 points (14 G, 33 A) in that time. She’s a multiple Patty Kaz nominee and won the best defender award in the NWHL in 2017, winning against other defenders like Kacey Bellamy and Emily Pfalzer.
In three games with Team USA, new additions Sidney Morin and Haley Skarupa have zero goals and zero assists combined.
It’s fair that Robb Stauber might not want to get hung up on the past - he seems very focused on the present team and looking ahead to the future. The Olympics have been his goal from the start; even when talking to media at the World Championships, he said that the team was focused on the ultimate goal of gold in PyeongChang.
But there’s a difference between doing what’s best for a team and deliberately shaking up a roster to its core. Three players that would have been considered locks a year ago- Kelli Stack (who didn’t even make the original centralization roster), Alex Carpenter and Megan Bozek - are all gone, and 13 players will be making their Olympic debut with this team.
This is Robb Stauber’s biggest statement since he took over as head coach. It’s bold, it’s attention-grabbing, and right now, it looks pretty dumb. Yes, we said it.
Still, it’s a statement. This is Robb Stauber’s defining moment as a coach.
If this plan works - if the US goes on to win gold for the first time in 20 years at the Olympics, Stauber will be remembered as the coach who finally snapped the Canada curse. Maybe some will say that the team won in spite of Stauber’s cuts, instead of because of them. Either way, he’ll get heaps of praise.
In contrast - if Team USA finishes anything other than first at the Olympics - Stauber is going to be humbled very quickly.
It’s probably too soon to get rid of him as a head coach - he only just took over the senior team a year ago - but his leash will be significantly shorter. He’ll have a lot of people calling for him to be fired, and deservedly so; if you had to choose between Stauber or Carpenter and Bozek, who would you pick?
We hear you loud and clear, Robb. You want a team that’s young and fast, and you’re focused on the now. You’ve got a plan. But will it work?
We’re about to find out.