Saturday, January 2, 2010

Davis Payne replaces Andy Murray as Blues head coach

The National Hockey League has seen the first head coach receive the axe in this brand new decade.

Earlier this morning, the St. Louis Blues announced that they have fired head coach Andy Murray and replaced him with Davis Payne on an interim basis. Payne was in his first season as head coach of the Blues' primary minor league affilite, the Peoria Rivermen of the American Hockey League.

The Blues own the worst home record in the NHL with a 6-15 mark through 21 games played at Scottrade Center this season, including three non-regulation losses. They are in 12th place in the Western Conference and nine points out of the final playoff spot. St. Louis blew a 3-0 third period lead in their last game on Thursday night before falling 4-3 to the visiting Vancouver Canucks in overtime. It was their fourth consecutive loss.

Payne will make his Blues head coaching debut tonight as his team hosts the Chicago Blackhawks.

St. Louis Blues official news release (January 2):
Davis Payne named interim head coach

Friday, January 1, 2010

USA Hockey unveils roster for 2010 men's Olympic team

Immediately after the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic concluded, USA Hockey announced their men's roster for the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

Seen live on NBC's broadcast of the third National Hockey League's outdoor game in league history today at Fenway Park between the Philadelphia Flyers and host Boston Bruins, kids dressed in USA Hockey jerseys were lined up on the ice surface and each turned around to the camera to show the announced roster player. The final player to be introduced by Bruins public address announcer Jim Martin was goaltender Tim Thomas.

video courtesy: NBC and NHL Productions

Here are the 22 NHL players selected to represent the United States next month. The Olympic hockey tournament will take place from February 16th to February 28th. For an in-depth look at the 2010 men's Olympic team, check out complete player biographies within the 2009 orientation camp guide.

David Backes
Dustin Brown
Ryan Callahan
Chris Drury
Patrick Kane
Ryan Kesler
Phil Kessel
Jamie Langenbrunner
Zach Parise
Joe Pavelski
Bobby Ryan
Paul Stastny

Erik Johnson
Jack Johnson
Mike Komisarek
Paul Martin
Brooks Orpik
Brian Rafalski
Ryan Suter

Ryan Miller
Jonathan Quick
Tim Thomas

Among the notable veteran NHL players that did not make this year's team would be Scott Gomez of the Montréal Canadiens, Bill Guerin of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Mike Modano of the Dallas Stars, Brian Rolston of the New Jersey Devils and Keith Tkachuk of the St. Louis Blues.

Does this mean that this is marking a changing of the guard to the younger generation of American players?

"We don't have the big-name recognition like we did at the 1996 World Cup, but we do have what we feel is a deeper and broader pool than ever before. We've put some exciting young players in the League the last 3-4 years - the (Phil) Kessels and (Patrick) Kanes of the world," Team USA general manager Brian Burke explained.

Burke added, "We've got some grizzled veterans who have participated and competed - the Tkachuks, Modanos and Guerins. We have to figure out what the balance is. We're not closing the door on that (older) generation, but we're not promising anything either. If it's time to turn the page, we're prepared to do that."

Team USA general manager Brian Burke talks to NHL Network's Bill Clement and Brian Duff about the decision-making process in finalizing the 2010 men's Olympic team.
(video courtesy: NHL Productions)

With this group of players in which only four have had prior Olympic experience (Drury, Gomez, Langenbrunner and Rafalski), what does Team USA head coach Ron Wilson want from them?

"We want to play a fast, aggressive, forechecking style that tries to get the puck and control the puck all the time," Wilson told's Mike G. Morreale. "We hope, in the few days we have with the team before the Games, we're able to solidify that style of play and execute it on the ice."

As an underdog against the favored hockey powers Canada and Russia, can the United States capture their first Gold medal since the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" hockey team?

"As I've said before, no bold predictions, no bulletin board material, we're there to win," Burke said.