Who will be Team USA’s top goaltender when the NHL goes on hiatus and the Winter Games begin in Sochi next month? It’s believed that U.S. coach Dan Bylsma has the answer locked in a Kevlar-enforced briefcase that’s kept in an underground bunker in Pittsburgh.
The talk in hockey circles is that Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings is a slight favorite to get first crack at the job, ahead of Buffalo’s Ryan Miller. NBC hockey analysts Eddie Olczyk and Jeremy Roenick weighed in on the question during a conference call last week.
Roenick, the longtime NHL star who represented the U.S. as a player in the 1998 and 2002 Olympics, said he feels that the goaltending job is Quick’s to lose.
“I think the next couple of weeks are really going to dictate a lot with Jonathan Quick, being out as long as he was due to injury, it’s going to be a really important process to watch him and how he’s moving and how he’s feeling over the next couple of weeks,” Roenick said.
“You have to give Ryan Miller a bunch of credit for the way that he’s come out and played this year. He’s played on a horrible team, which would probably be a lot worse if it wasn’t for Ryan Miller and the way that he has played. He’s ready for the challenge. I’m sure he’s proven that he can do it.
“I think this is Jonathan Quick’s job to lose and if I was a betting guy, which I am, I would expect him to be right there.”
Olczyk, himself a former coach of the Penguins, wasn’t ready to anoint Quick so quickly. Olczyk said he’s not sure who Bylsma would pick as the starter, and that different goalies could get a chance as the tournament progresses.
“I’m not privy to that information,” Olczyk said, “but we’ve seen it in prior Olympics and particularly with Team Canada back in 2010, maybe you start with a certain person, things can change and you put somebody else in there and you end up winning the gold medal.
“At the end of the day I think that either way he goes to start it may not be how it ends up, and Jimmy Howard as well, who’s a little banged up right now – and who isn’t for the record, for the Detroit Red Wings unfortunately – come Sochi. It’ll be interesting to see which direction he goes to in Game One.”
Fox cut off Sherman
The comedian Adam Carolla has talked about his theory that whenever a celebrity is referred to only by his or her first name – as in, “What’s he like to work with? Well, Jack is Jack.” – it’s usually an indication that the person can be a real handful.
Carolla’s take came to mind last week when Fox NFL announcer Joe Buck was asked in a media conference call about the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman and his postgame interview after the NFC title game in which Sherman vented about 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree.
“Richard handled that the way Richard wanted to handle that after the game,” Buck said.
Fox Sports producer Richie Zyontz, who produced the 49ers-Seahawks game, said it was his decision to cut short Sherman’s interview with sideline reporter Erin Andrews.
“I saw a train coming down the tracks,” Zyontz said. “It started crossing over a line that I did not want to see us go.
“Erin handled it very well, but I kind of said, ‘Let’s end this thing.’ He’s a good guy, an intelligent guy, an emotional guy and it was very compelling to watch. But it started getting a little dangerous for us.”
• Tuesday is Super Bowl Media Day, which this year will be held in the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., home of the NHL’s Devils. Note to media types: Make sure you pick a spot at the end of the rink where Seattle’s Sherman shoots his mouth off twice.
• Fox Sports on Super Bowl Sunday will stream the game online for all to see. Fox is offering a free preview of its Fox Sports Go app, which can be viewed on iPads or on a desktop at FoxSportsGo.com. The app will be open to all from midnight Sunday morning to 3 a.m. Monday. On other days, users of the app must authenticate that they are subscribers to a TV provider.
Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly will interview President Obama live on Fox TV at about 4:30 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday. Both men have graduate degrees from Harvard. Personally, I’d rather watch Jeremy Lin and Ryan Fitzpatrick sit down to chat.
• Jim Nantz and his CBS golf colleagues held a media conference call last week to discuss the PGA Tour season. Nantz talked about how impressed he is with young Jordan Spieth, who is in contention again this weekend at Torrey Pines.
“I’m just amazed at what Jordan accomplished last year,” Nantz said. “He is 20 now but last year what he did at the age of 19, I think was completely underplayed by all of us in the media who cover golf. What he accomplished at 19 truly is the best performance by a 19-year-old that we’ve seen in the modern era of golf.
“Jordan Spieth is just what we needed in this game. We need over here the next great young, American star.”