Resisting suggestions that he fill the remaining eight spots on the U.S. men's Olympic hockey team next Wednesday for the convenience of an ESPN telecast, Olympic Coach Herb Brooks said Thursday he plans to continue evaluating players until the Dec. 22 deadline.
A recent scouting trip, during which he saw the Kings play at Chicago and Nashville, reinforced his inclination to wait. Brooks was impressed with defenseman Aaron Miller and forwards Adam Deadmarsh and Bryan Smolinski, and said all three remain in consideration for the team that will play at Salt Lake City in February.
FOR THE RECORD
Los Angeles Times Tuesday December 18, 2001 Home Edition Part A Part A Page 2 A2 Desk 1 inches; 18 words Type of Material: Correction
Hockey player--Mark Parrish plays for the New York Islanders. His team was identified incorrectly in a Sports story Friday.
"We will announce a few guys next week, but not all," said Brooks, who will meet Saturday with General Manager Craig Patrick and assistant GM Larry Pleau to discuss their options.
"A lot of it depends on how we want to build the team.... There are going to be debates. And there are going to be a lot of good hockey players that don't make it but who could be tapped later if there are injuries, if their egos aren't bruised."
Brooks, who coached the gold-medal 1980 U.S. team, as well as the 1998 French team at Nagano, said he is wrestling with ideas on how to build the defense. Four of the anticipated seven-man corps have been named: veterans Chris Chelios of the Detroit Red Wings, Gary Suter of the San Jose Sharks, Brian Leetch of the New York Rangers and Brian Rafalski of the New Jersey Devils.
If the consensus calls for a sound and fairly mobile defenseman, Miller might be the choice; sentiment for muscle could bring Dallas' Derian Hatcher onto the roster, and Philadelphia's Eric Weinrich is dependable. The uncertainty of King defenseman Mathieu Schneider's recovery from hernia surgery has pretty much ruled him out.
Ten forwards have been named, with at least two more to come. Florida's Mark Parrish and Ranger Michael York have barged into the picture with strong offensive efforts, and Brooks has long admired Smolinski's size, strength and defensive strengths.
Deadmarsh's fearless style and high energy could also be pluses in Brooks' eyes.
In goal, Mike Richter of the New York Rangers and Tom Barrasso of Carolina have almost certainly earned spots, joining Mike Dunham of the Nashville Predators.