ARLINGTON, Va. -- Peter Laviolette is one of just two representatives from the Philadelphia Flyers on the 2014 USA Olympic squad -- the other being Paul Holmgren, who is part of the leadership group.
Homer isn't here at the Men's National Team Orientation Camp today and tomorrow at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex, but Laviolette is as part of head coach Dan Bylsma's coaching staff. Lavi talked at length about what he expects in Sochi, the growth of USA Hockey, and his favorite memory as a representative of the United States.
On the last time he was an assistant coach:
I was an assistant coach in 2004 for Ron Wilson at the World Cup. Um. I was an assistant coach in Boston my first stint in the NHL. Can't remember if there was another one. ... pause ... I was an assistant coach for my son's pee wee team down in Florida. According to my son, I'm not very smart.
On the growth of USA Hockey:
It has come a long way. I truly think that's a credit to USA Hockey, the way that they've developed the grass roots programs across the United States. I think the NHL's influence in southern markets and western markets-- you go down to Carolina, where I was, and all the sudden there's street hockey sticks and street hockey balls out in front of the garage. Dings all off the garage door from the pucks. That's an influence of an NHL, which then goes to a grassroots program.
USA Hockey's done an amazing job of getting people involved in the game. Getting them to love the game. Getting them out there and on the ice. Learn to play, learn to skate. That sort of thing. And then from there into the programs and developing things. I think one of the big things is the program out in Michigan -- the National Development Team. Take the best of the best and you bring them out there and train them at 15, 16 years old and that's where you see the big influx of picks now and high draft picks coming through the NHL, and here we sit. I think it's a culmination of 10 or 15 years of USA Hockey really -- not that they didn't do it before that -- but there's a lot of dedicated people from USA Hockey out there doing the work and making sure that the game grows itself.
On balancing the Flyers job with the Olympic job:
We're ready to go in Philadelphia. Once the season starts there our job is in Philadelphia. You may notice a player on the other team, and I think there will be lines of communication open with regards to potential Olympic athletes, but business is business in Philadelphia and we gotta make sure that we're ready to play there.
I went through this before in 2006 and I didn't find it that difficult to balance the two. The players will be not thinking about -- a month and a half from now, they will not be thinking about a power play unit here. They'll have their hands full and their coaches will, and so will other countries, and that's just the nature of the business. I always find, in 2006, in 2010, I thought the hockey was unbelievable. Just terrific hockey. So everybody seems to put that aside in a way for two weeks and they're able to focus on what needs to be focused on.
Here's the full audio if you'd like: