Sifting through a wide array of talent to assemble some of the finest U.S. hockey players in just a few short weeks is a daunting task and supreme challenge.
Fortunately, when it comes to putting together the squad for the annual IIHF World Championship, USA Hockey can rely on the proven expertise, knowledge and know-how of veteran U.S. Men’s National Team Advisory Group member Dale Tallon.
Tallon, who helped build the 2010 Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, once again contributed to the selection of the U.S. team playing at the 2015 edition of the tournament in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
“We have a good group led by J.J. and we all get together as much as we can and it’s a lot of fun putting everything together,” Tallon said of the selection process, while referring to Jim Johannson, USA Hockey’s assistant executive director for hockey operations.
Tallon, currently the general manager of the Florida Panthers, has been a key contributor since 2010.
The current Advisory Group, which collaborates to assemble both world championship and Olympic teams, also includes NHL general managers Stan Bowman (Chicago), Dean Lombardi (Los Angeles) and David Poile (Nashville). Also involved are Don Waddell, president of Gale Force Sports & Entertainment and Ray Shero. Columbus Blue Jackets assistant general manager Bill Zito has also been involved in the selection process for the 2015 U.S. Men’s National Team.
Team USA opened the 2015 world championship with an impressive 5-1 victory over Finland yesterday (May 1). Captain Matt Hendricks contributed two goals and an assist while goalkeeper Connor Hellebuyck made 29 saves in the winning effort.
“I’m so proud of our young guys coming together so quickly against a veteran team – most of these teams we’re playing against are national team members and guys that have been around the world championships for many years,” Tallon said.
“We’re averaging 24.3 years of age, so it’s pretty amazing. There are four of five guys that don’t even have NHL contracts, so that tells you about the depth of USA Hockey and it bodes well for the future.”
The diverse U.S. group is comprised of 15 NHL players, 5 collegians and two each from the AHL and Russian Continental Hockey League.
Team USA seeks a 2-0 start at the IIHF World Championship today (May 2) against Norway. Opening faceoff is set for 8:15 p.m. (2:15 p.m. ET) at CEZ Arena. The game will be streamed live in the U.S. via NBC Sports Live Extra and televised on NBCSN on a same-day delayed basis at approximately 11 p.m. ET.