This Olympic selection process is getting really ugly, and fast.
First, the US Men’s Hockey team roster was announced a couple days ago. Right away, some curious omissions were brought to light, especially Ottawa Senators star Bobby Ryan. This alone was enough to stir up some controversy.
And then, the quotes came out.
The selection committee, led by Nashville Predators GM David Poile and current Calgary Flames acting GM Brian Burke, decided to let ESPN and USA Today sit in on the selection process. It seemed like a good idea at the time, especially with the success of HBO’s 24/7 series leading up to the Winter Classic. Why not give people behind-the-scenes access to the biggest hockey tournament in the world?
Burke came up with a great reason why a process like this might need to be rethought next time around. His reasoning behind snubbing Ryan was released yesterday, and it wasn’t pretty.
“[Ryan] is not intense. That word is not in his vocabulary,” Burke says. “It’s never going to be in his vocabulary. He can’t spell intense.”
Obviously, Ryan wasn’t a diehard fan of this assessment, and now Poile is doing everything he can to try and put out the fire.
“I’m trying right now to apologize to Bobby Ryan,” Poile said. “I apologize as much as I can.”
Poile, in another attempt to try and excuse away the whole issue, claims there was a bit of a miscommunication between the selection committee and the press they allowed to sit in. The GM said the committee was under the impression that they would have “editorial review” over what was eventually written.
This seems like a pretty big “oops” moment for Poile and Burke. Allowing press into a very intense and selective process is a bold move, yes. But at the same time, you better make sure you know every single stipulation for this access. Otherwise, you get this. Did nobody notice any media members reacting to such a degrading quote about one of the better American players in the NHL? You can practically picture some press members drooling over the chance to publish it. At this point, don’t you think a member or two of the selection committee would think “hey, are we OK with them publishing that quote?”
Unfortunately for Poile and Burke, it’s way too late for that. Now Burke looks like a bit of a jerk for going out of his way to slander a talented player while Poile is on mop-up duty trying to patch things up with Ryan.
The official 2014 roster for the US Men’s team is only a few days old, but it’s already draped in controversy. Burke and Poile better hope this is the only issue the team comes across. If the Americans struggle at the Sochi Games, you better believe this controversial selection process gets brought back up when evaluating the group in charge of the team.