Ryan Kesler invited to Team USA’s Olympic orientation camp, because of course he is

The Canucks won’t have quite as many countries represented at the 2014 Winter Olympics as they did in 2010. Back then, they sent seven players to the Olympics to play for six different countries. This time around, they’ll have representatives on just three countries: Canada, Sweden, and Team USA.

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Ryan Kesler was invited to Team USA’s Olympic orientation camp on Monday and is a lock to make the team and head to Sochi in February.

Kesler may have only scored two points, both goals, during the 2010 Olympics, but he was still one of Team USA’s top players, averaging 17:21 in ice time per game, tied with Patrick Kane for second among USA forwards. He returned to a checking role, tasked with shutting down some of the best players in the world, and helped Team USA to the gold medal game, falling just short in overtime.

For what it’s worth, Kesler scored a goal in the final and wasn’t on the ice when Crosby scored the gold-medal winning goal.

Team USA has a strong contingent of two-way centres to go with Kesler, including Joe Pavelski, David Backes, Paul Stastny, Brandon Dubinsky, and Derek Stepan, but Kesler is arguably the strongest defensively of that group and has experience on his side. Considering how heavily Ron Wilson leaned on Kesler during the 2010 Olympics, it would be shocking if he didn’t make the team.

The one x-factor, of course, is his health. Kesler only played in 17 games during the 2012-13 season as he recovered from a shoulder injury, then broke his foot upon his return. If those issues are resolved, however, and there’s every reason to believe they are, then Kesler will be on Team USA for the 2014 Olympics.

I, for one, am thrilled.

While I thoroughly enjoy having Kesler on the Canucks, it was immensely fun having him play for the opposition in 2010. During the Olympics, Canucks fans quickly realized why everyone hates playing against Kesler so much, as he was an aggravating presence on the ice and a hilarious agent provocateur off the ice, famously stating “I hate them” when asked about Team Canada.

For a few short weeks, Kesler will be the enemy and Canucks fans will levy all the accusations at him that they vehemently deny at all other times. They’ll call him an overrated diver, whiner, and jerk. Then, as soon as he’s back in a Canucks jersey, they’ll claim the exact opposite to be the case. It’s going to be hilarious and, also, completely understandable.

One omission from the camp roster: David Booth. While that’s not the least bit surprising, considering his offensive struggles and injury troubles from the last couple seasons, but he did attend the orientation camp for the 2010 team and would have been at the 2010 Olympics if not for a devastating concussion he suffered during the 2009-10 season. The season prior to the Olympics, Booth scored 31 goals and 60 points in 72 games for the Florida Panthers.

Now, unfortunately, Booth has a string of mediocre seasons and has been passed on the Team USA depth chart by the likes of Ryan Callahan, James Van Reimsdyk, and Max Pacioretty.

That said, if Booth goes off during the first half of the season, he could be a late addition to the team. That, however, is pretty dang unlikely.

12 comments

  1. natevk
    July 22, 2013

    I’m hoping Booth pulls a Samuelsson and plays incredible after being somewhat snubbed-ish by the US team!

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    • akiddd
      July 22, 2013

      snubbed? somewhat snubbed? i guess, daniel, that hammering out a message,
      over and over, no matter how inaccurate it is, really does work.

      come on, people! booth had ONE goal last year, a gift empty-netter! ya, i’ll say he’s been passed on the depth chart! gosh!

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      • Daniel Wagner
        July 22, 2013

        I wouldn’t describe him as snubbed. More just pointing out that at one point Booth was one of the best American players in the NHL not that long ago.

        As for the rest of your comment, I haven’t said anything inaccurate in regards to Booth.

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        • akiddd
          July 23, 2013

          hey daniel, it was more of a reply to natevk. with influence(i’m guessing) from your ongoing(and finally fading a bit?)booth campaign.

          i just wonder how booth can even come up in a conversation about olympic hockey teams. he’s basically a non-entity at this point. there are other canucks who deserve a bit of press instead. not that higgins(hey barry) had a realistic shot but he’s definitely higher on the depth chart than booth.

          as for ‘inaccurate’ i guess i’m referring to your portrayal of booth as a genuine 2nd-liner. could’ve used a better adjective, i suppose.

          last off-season, there was at least an argument to be made,( albeit lop-sided.) booth’s performance in ’13 kinda put an end to that though. anyhoo, don’t mean to jump on you. like i said, it was more of a response to natevk. i can see by your language(“mediocre”, “unlikely” that you’re slowly coming around. once his press coverage matches his on-ice achievements we’ll be all the way there:) cheers.

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          • Daniel Wagner
            July 23, 2013

            I mentioned Booth because he was an invite to the last USA Olympic camp. That’s all.

            Booth’s performance in 2013 came in just 12 games. I refuse to draw any conclusions from a 12-game sample. I still think Booth is a good second liner who deserves another chance to prove himself in Vancouver. He has yet to play a full season for the Canucks. Even if you combine his two seasons, he’s played 78 games with the Canucks so far. I’m hoping for an injury-free 2013-14 season, which should give us a better indication of his ability.

            Look, I don’t want to have a fight with you or anything, but when you say that Booth’s 2013 season puts an end to any argument about Booth’s ability, I have to just shake my head. It was 12 games, for Pete’s sake…

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            • akiddd
              July 23, 2013

              was it just 12 games? wow, didn’t realize it was that few. maybe, like being lost in the wilderness, it just seemed longer.

              and under torts(likes to keep the ‘goals for’ down to a dull roar), you never know, booth may prove to be more effective.

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          • PB
            July 24, 2013

            I actually think the Booth-Samuellson comparison isn’t as far off as it might appear at first glance. Samuellson was coming off a couple of 40-point seasons with Detroit before getting hot post-Olympics snub with the Canucks, while Booth had 40-ish points the last couple of seasons with the Canucks and Panthers. I don’t think either would or should have been locks to make their respective Olympic squads but I don’t think they were out of the conversation in 2010 — injuries and slow production had affected them. And remember, the Swedes and the Americans don’t have the same kind of depth that Canada has in terms of the talent pool to draw from, though clearly both have long been surpassed for this Olympics.

            But Booth is a laid back bible-thumping, gun totin’ surfer dude (from Michigan of all places). I can’t imagine he’d get too upset, and not in the inspired to score a ton of goals now way that Samuellson was. I also kind of think Samuellson is a bit of an ornery bastard.

            I do think Booth gets a bad rap here. I think he had tremendous bad luck with injuries and just general poor shooting. Watching him out there it’s not as if he doesn’t have good hands. He’s a strong skater and is always noticeable out there, pushing the puck well up the ice and doesn’t look like a defensive liability. For me this is the make or break season for him; last year was a waste, as it was for Kesler, but for my money I’d much rather have Booth than some of the other 2nd line wingers we’ve seen here, like Raymond. He just looks stronger on the puck. Time will tell if he can rebound but I think there’s far more upside to him than we’ve seen so far.

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  2. goat10000
    July 22, 2013

    Don’t forget…not all Canucks fans are Canadian. I will be rooting Kesler on!

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    • J21
      July 24, 2013

      And even for those of us that are, some of us don’t enjoy watching hated rivals from other NHL teams extinguish international interest in a sport already played 8 million percent more in Canada than anyplace else on earth by beating up on the national teams of countries that could kick Canada’s behind in pretty much any other sport.

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  3. Barry
    July 23, 2013

    Maybe Higgins will pull a Samuelsson because he was snubbed by fans not talking about how he was snubbed!

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  4. J21
    July 24, 2013

    “This time around, they’ll have representatives on just three countries: Canada, Sweden, and Team USA.”

    I don’t know what the Swiss team looks like these days, but surely Yannick Weber will be on that team?

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    • PB
      July 24, 2013

      He wasn’t on the 2013 WC roster, though he was on the 2010 Olympics for the Swiss.

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