Four Pittsburgh Penguins have been invited to Team Canada’s training camp, which will take place in Calgary from August 25 to the 28. Among the invited are Kris Letang, Chris Kunitz, James Neal and likely captain Sidney Crosby, Team Canada’s hero in the 2010 Olympics when he sneaked the puck by the Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller in the OT victory over Team USA.
While returning Coach Mike Babcock, head coach of the Detroit Red Wings, looks to add another gold medal to his highly decorated career, Team USA should have some valuable insight into this Canadian powerhouse. Taking over the reins for the Americans this year is Pittsburgh’s very own Dan Bylsma, who should be able to help Team USA develop a plan for shutting down Crosby and getting around his Norris Trophy finalist defenseman in Letang.
That is, if Bylsma isn’t avoiding equipment tossed in his direction by newly named Assistant Coach, Phildaelphia Flyers head coach Peter Lavoillete. The battle of Pennsylvania is certainly a rivalry these coaches take very seriously, with tensions between the two having reached its pinnacle following a heated exchange at Consol Energy Center on April 1 of last year. In case you missed it, Lavoillete tiptoed his way across the dashboards between the two benches and shattered former Penguin Maxime Talbot’s stick in Bylsma’s direction, later calling Bylsma gutless for putting his checking line on the ice in the remaining minutes of 6-3 blowout. How does Team USA’s head coach Bylsma feel about the situation? He has gone on record saying he doesn’t like Lavoillete’s orange ties.
Needless to say, there will be more than the team’s cohesiveness to address come training camp, which begins August 25 at the Washington Capitals‘ practice facility, Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Hopefully the remaining coaching staff, namely Pittsburgh’s assistant coach Tony Granato, will be able to keep the peace. One suggestion may be to gift Lavoillete with a more patriotic tie. Needless to say, if anything can bring these two coaches together, it seems the good of our country and Team USA may have the best chance.