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Penguins Report: U.S. Olympic Orientation Camp

Monday, 08.26.2013 / 8:00 AM / Penguins Report
By Michelle Crechiolo
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Penguins Report: U.S. Olympic Orientation Camp


- Orpik one of the oldest at camp
- Bennett one of the youngest
Tuesday
- Official USA Hockey portraits of our guys
- 2014 U.S. Olympic jersey revealed - PHOTOS
- Public day for camp

- Orpik, Martin talk USA Hockey with Mearsy
- Pens-related quotes from Orpik, Martin, Bennett



INTRODUCTION
Hello from Virginia, Pens fans! Welcome to our coverage of the 2013 U.S. Men’s National Team Camp, which will be taking place Monday and Tuesday at the Washington Capitals practice facility in Arlington. Basically, this is an orientation camp that is the next step in helping the USA Hockey staff determine the 2013 U.S. Men’s Olympic Team that will participate in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia in February.

There are many other Penguins players invited to their countries' summer orientation camps (Canada's is this week as well), but we are here at this camp because of both how well the Penguins are represented and the relative short drive from Pittsburgh. Staff-wise, Ray Shero is Team USA’s associate general manager; Dan Bylsma is the head coach, Tony Granato is one of three assistant coaches along with Philadephia's Peter Laviolette and Columbus' Todd Richards; and Penguins video coach Andy Saucier will be filling that same role in Sochi. In addition, Bill Guerin is here to assist.

Player-wise, defensemen Brooks Orpik (who won silver with Team USA in 2010) and Paul Martin along with forward Beau Bennett were among the 48 American players invited to camp. The full roster for Team USA can be found here.



We plan on speaking with all of our guys at some point over the next two days. And we won’t just discuss the Olympics – we hope to catch up with them about their summers, the upcoming season, the state of the team and anything else that comes up. Check back here over the next two days for our coverage, and make sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @penguins for more real-time updates.  

There will be no on-ice activity at this camp because the cost of insuring the players' NHL contracts is too high, but the Olympic hopefuls will still be plenty busy. USA Hockey management and the coaching staff will meet as a group and individually with the camp invitees.The players will spend mornings at the rink for meetings with coaches, off-ice workouts, media availability and fan interaction. Afternoons will include team meetings, presentations and other Olympic-related activities. Evenings will include team dinners and bonding.

The 48 players have been divided into two groups of 24 by Coach Bylsma for various purposes. He has named the teams the 1960 Team and the 1980 Team, in honor of the two U.S. gold-medal men's Olympic ice hockey squads. To kind of continue that theme in a way, I’m going to start the blog with Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” It plays in the end credits of the movie Miracle (which is about the 1980 Team and their incredible story), and ever since then I’ve found the song to be very inspiring when it comes to hockey (it was always the last song I listened to before all my games in college). Hope you enjoy both the song and our coverage of the camp.





MONDAY
"One of the things I say about this USA Hockey thing, when you have the opportunity to meet and have the opportunity to have our conference calls, the one thing I do know and I found this out pretty quickly is when we come to this or we’re on the conference calls or are in the room yesterday with our 48 players, staff and trainers, the one thing I always say is I'm not representing the Pittsburgh Penguins … We represent USA Hockey. We're here as a group, a committed group, to try and bring a gold medal to country. And we don't take this responsibility lightly. Men's Olympic hockey for the best country in world, it's a great opportunity and a great honor.
--Penguins general manager and Team USA associate general manager Ray Shero

Today started bright and early with a press conference at 8 a.m. Ray Shero, GM David Poile, director of player personnel Brian Burke, executive director of USA Hockey Dave Ogrean and assistant executive director of USA Hockey Jim Johannson were there to give opening remarks and answer questions from the media.

Watch what Ray Shero had to say below...



We then went to the player availability, where we spoke to all three Penguins -- Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin and Beau Bennett -- attending the camp.


 
ORPIK IS A VETERAN

At 32 years old, Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik  – born on Sept. 26, 1980 – is the second-oldest player of the 48 invited to this camp. Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, who was the starter for Team USA when they won silver medal 2010, has the honor of being the oldest – having just turned 33 on July 17.

That knowledge didn't escape either player.

"Ryan Miller and I were actually kind of laughing last night – I don’t consider myself old at 32 but we were kind of looking around as everyone’s introducing themselves and we were kind of kicking ourselves realizing we were the oldest guys here at 32 years old, which I think is a good thing for USA Hockey," Orpik said.

"There’s so much good talent coming up. And the fact that they brought 48 guys, which is a large number when you’ve got to cut it down to 25, you even look at some of the players that didn’t get invited in this 48 and how talented some of those guys are. I think that’s just an indication of what direction USA Hockey is going. I think the 2010 team, some of the World Junior teams have definitely helped their growth."

Orpik and Miller, who were teammates on that 2010 squad that came home with silver after losing to archrival Canada in overtime in the gold-medal game, are the only two players at this camp born in 1980 – the year the Miracle on Ice happened. While everyone here remembers and appreciates what that 1980 U.S. Olympic men's hockey team accomplished, Orpik wants to be a part of this 2014 squad making their own history and bringing this country its first gold since then – especially after what happened in Vancouver almost four years ago.

"With USA Hockey, they don’t let you forget about 1960 and 1980. You’re always reminded of that," Orpik said. "(But) obviously you’ve seen the success of the World Juniors and World Championships the last few years and how many good young players are at a camp like this. Obviously USA Hockey is growing in the right direction here, but I think you’re always striving – you always remember what happened in 1980, but obviously you want to be a part of the next great team."



ORPIK ON HIS HEALTH
Orpik had not been very fortunate the last few summers when it came to his health, having lower abdominal/hernia surgery on his left side in 2010  – then having the same procedure done on his right side in 2011. 

But Orpik assured us that he had no significant injuries to deal with during this particular and very short offseason, saying:



Note: last year Orpik, Marc-Andre Fleury and Jordan Staal all got married, in case you're wondering what he meant when he mentioned weddings.



MARTIN RECOVERED FROM "SIGNIFICANT INJURY"
After the Penguins' season ended back in June after being swept by the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final, coach Bylsma said that Paul Martin had played with a "signifcant injury" the last few playoff games. When we saw Martin at the U.S. Olympic camp, we asked him if he was back to full health. His response:



Martin wasn't able to do a whole lot for about a month after the season ended due to the injury, but said he is 100 percent now. "It was definitely a very short summer," he said. "It’s been short, but it’s been good. I’ve just been relaxing in Minnesota and then working out. So now this and then get back to work."



MARTIN HOPING TO PLAY IN 2014 AFTER BEING INJURED IN 2010
This opportunity to play for Team USA means so much to Penguins defenseman Paul Martin. And it isn’t just because he’s one of the older guys here at age 32, though that does factor into it.

Martin actually made Team USA in 2010 as a member of the New Jersey Devils, but was unable play in the tournament after a Bill Guerin slapshot broke his forearm during a regular-season game.

“It was tough,” Martin admitted. “As far as disappointment and frustration as far as an athlete goes, I think that has been my toughest thing to get over so far in my career.

I didn’t have expectations as far as was I going to be on the team. I just think when you realize that opportunity is there and you get named but you can’t do it, it was a tough pill for me to swallow and I struggled with it for a while. But I can only control so much and that’s why I think for this opportunity, I want to – again, I can’t predict what will happen during those games in the regular season – but (I want to) just to give myself a chance if they call my name, to be ready as I can.”

Martin doesn’t appreciate this opportunity only because he was robbed of his last one – he knows he can’t be sure if or when another chance like this will come along, so he’s going to savor this one for all it’s worth.

“I think as I get older, I definitely appreciate every opportunity I get, especially to play for my country,” he said. “So I think this opportunity, I have a lot more appreciation for and hopefully I’ll be able to play a game.”

We’ll have a full feature on the site later.



BENNETT ONE OF THE YOUNGEST


While Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin are among the oldest players at Team USA’s camp at 32 years old, Penguins forward Beau Bennett is among the youngest at 21 years old.

California native Bennett, who was a rookie last season for the Penguins, has only represented Team USA one other time in his career – when he won a gold medal at the 2009 World Junior A Challenge.

“It’s definitely a privilege and an honor to even be thought of for this camp,” Bennett admitted. “It’s been fun so far, a lot of stuff going on, a lot to take in. It’s a learning experience just to take towards the season.”

Being one of the 48 players invited to this camp means Bennett, who just finished his rookie season with the Penguins, is under actual consideration for Team USA’s 2014 Olympic roster. When did that sink in?

“It really didn’t sink in till I saw the guys,” he said. “When I got invited to the whole thing, I was in the middle of summer just kind of doing my thing and once I got here and saw everyone, had a couple meetings, it’s pretty surreal. It’s definitely an honor to be here.”

Though this camp may be overwhelming at times for Bennett, who was drafted in the first round by Pittsburgh a few months after the 2010 Olympics, having familiar faces here in Penguins teammates Orpik and Martin, coaches Dan Bylsma, Tony Granato and Bill Guerin and general manager Ray Shero provides a level of comfort for the winger.

“It helps a lot, actually,” Bennett said. “We actually went over some systems today and it’s nothing that I don’t do during the regular season. So it’s pretty easy to see everything and I’m used to all the meetings, so it’s been good so far.”

It also doesn’t hurt that in addition to Orpik and Martin, he is teammates with two of the best players in the game in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Observing the professionalism of players like ‘Sid’ and ‘Geno’ has helped him here more than he could have known.

“Just the off-ice, just being around them, seeing how Sid works off ice, you can take that into just being around these guys here,” Bennett said. “At the end of the day we’re all just normal people, they want to be treated like normal people regardless of their hockey skills and whatnot. It’s nice to be here and be able to talk and kind of form some relationships where we’re all USA-born players and we have that bond, so it’s cool to be around all those guys.”



TUESDAY
Good morning! There is another media availability this a.m., so we'll be talking with all of our players again. In addition, today is a public day for the camp and includes:
  • Ticket holders having a chance to skate on one of the two rinks for 30 minutes;
  • Get autographs from players (will happen between 9-11 a.m. at two locations in the Kettler complex),
  • And watch the Wounded Warriors sled hockey game (10-11 a.m. on Capitals practice rink).
  • In addition, all attending will get to view the on-ice ceremony hosted by Kathryn Tappen (11:30 a.m. - Capitals practice rink) which will include giveaways, the introduction of all players at the camp, the unveiling of the 2014 Nike Olympic jersey and comments from selected players and other dignitaries.
We hope to have photos from these events posted in the blog later on. See everyone later!



PENGUINS PLAYER QUOTES

Here's some quick Pens-related quotes from the guys today...






ORPIK, MARTIN TALK USA HOCKEY WITH MEARSY
Remember our buddy Steve Mears, who used to work for the Penguins (hosting the Penguins Live radio show and for PensTV)? He's with the NHL Network now and is here at the camp to talk to virtually all of the player invitees. He and NHL Live partner E.J. Hradek spoke with Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin on Monday and will be interviewing Beau Bennett Tuesday. 

BROOKS ORPIK TALKS USA HOCKEY



PAUL MARTIN TALKS USA HOCKEY






2014 U.S. OLYMPIC JERSEY
The U.S. Olympic orientation camp concluded with an on-ice ceremony hosted by NHL Network's Kathryn Tappen, which included player introductions and the unveiling of USA Hockey's 2014 Nike Olympic jersey.

They had two American greats Chris Drury and our own BILLY GUERIN wear the USA sweaters and introduce them to the public for the first time. Billy G., like the true patriot he is, even posed for a photo for us.



What do you guys think? Of course, Billy G. makes it look good. I actually kind of like the stars splashed across the shoulders and the old-school USA Hockey logo, but I'm not sure about the fake laces.

Here's some more photos of our 3 guys (Martin, Orpik and Bennett) at the ceremony.


Bennett and Orpik were both on the 1960 Team (the players were split into two squads, named after the 2 gold-medal teams. Obviously the other was 1980). Since it was ABC order, Beau was introduced first...




Orpik smiling with his fellow countrymen as he waits his turn...


Looks like someone is the unlucky recipient of a Brooks Orpik stare...#FreeCandy


Paul Martin was by himself on the 1980 Team. Here he is with Chicago's Nick Leddy and Buffalo's Ryan Miller.


These guys are trying to figure out how to get the shirts they're holding up over the netting and to the fans in the stands. I, unfortunately, happened to be standing along the boards as this happened so I had to take cover. Despite having to duck and run, I did see Paulie get his over. He was one of just a few.


Coach Bylsma wearing the USA Hockey tracksuit


Before the players came out


Thanks for being so welcoming, USA Hockey and everyone involved in this camp!



PENS' OFFICIAL USA HOCKEY PORTRAITS
All 48 camp invitees posed for USA Hockey portraits in the 2014 Nike Olympic jerseys with Getty photographer Bruce Bennett. We have the full gallery of our guys and their glamour shots here ... but we wanted to show you a couple of our favorites first.


Love the American flag backdrop behind Paul Martin. This picture looks fantastic.


Awww, "Sunshine" (California native Beau Bennett's nickname from his teammates) with a big smile as he poses for his first-ever USA Hockey head shot. You can feel the happiness exuding from him here.

And finally, the best for last...





How intense is Brooks Orpik's gaze? I have feeling this stare would intimidate anyone, at the Olympics or anywhere. FREE CANDY!

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