Amid last weekend’s All-Star festivities in Toronto, the long-rumored return of the NHL to the Olympics finally became official (for the 2026 and ‘30 Games), as well as the start of a 4 Nations Face-Off tournament that will replace the All-Star Weekend (“Amen!” here) next February.
The United States, Canada, Sweden, and Finland will square off in the 4 Nations Face-Off, with games to be split between one US and one Canadian city — with TD Garden and Montreal’s Bell Centre high on the list of possible venues for games and practices. Regrettably, Czechia and Russia won’t be part of the extravaganza, which will leave Bruins star David Pastrnak assigned to cabana-and-beach chair duty.
On Thursday, USA Hockey named ex-Bruin Bill Guerin general manager of its ‘25 and ‘26 teams, resuming the duties he was assigned prior to NHL involvement in the ‘22 Olympics getting scrubbed because of lingering impediments, related to the pandemic.
Guerin, 53, recalled being an enthralled 9-year-old watching at home in Wilbraham when the ragamuffin Yanks beat the powerhouse Russians at Lake Placid in 1980 en route to Olympic gold.
“That had a huge impact on how I saw the game of hockey,” mused Guerin, these days GM of the Wild, “the path I wanted to go down and how deeply I bled the red-white-and-blue colors.”
Fellow Bay Stater Mike Eruzione was captain and spark of the ‘80 team. Eruzione’s huge presence and impact on that squad will be something Guerin said he’ll keep in mind when the USA managing and coaching staff choose captains.
“I know Mike real well, and I think he’s going to put in his name for captain on this team, too,” Guerin joked. “He’d be a good one, because he’s a glue guy. We’ve all seen ‘Miracle.’ We’ve all heard the stories … a lot of us are fortunate enough to have heard right from Mike, and from some of the other guys … Mike was the guy that kept the guys together. He could communicate with [coach] Herb [Brooks], through tough times and crazy schedules and all that stuff, it was Mike that was the glue. Other guys, too, but he was the glue and you need a guy like that, regardless of [the playing] role.”
Aside from your faithful puck chronicler: It remains mystifying that Eruzione, who’ll turn 70 in October, has not been a USA Hockey Hall of Fame inductee. He contributed all that Guerin mentioned, then provided the Games’ signature moment, calling all his teammates to the podium to share in accepting the gold medal. Forever to be remembered as the group hug watched ‘round the world.
Days after the announcement in Toronto, a gleeful Charlie McAvoy said the Olympics are “without a doubt a dream of mine,” and that he’ll do everything he can to be part of the USA squad.
“In speaking with Marty Walsh,” added McAvoy, giving credit to the new NHLPA boss for helping to facilitate the deal with the NHL, IIHF, and IOC, “it’s something that I and [Pastrnak] and bunch of other people, we stressed how badly we wanted to be part of that and how badly we wanted to be part of the last one [in ‘22].”
“I was very disappointed missing the last two,” added Brad Marchand, the NHL also choosing not to release personnel for the ‘18 Games in South Korea. “It was really disappointing that the guys got robbed of going to the last couple — it’s a very unique opportunity for the guys to participate.”
Marchand will be 37 when the Games are played in Italy (Milan/Cortina) in ‘26. The ‘30 Games, likely to be staged in the idyllic French Alps, could be beyond his reach at age 41. Then again, he has a history of defying expectations.
“Definitely a huge goal,” he said, referring to ‘26. “I’m going to do everything I can to be there, make sure I am in the best possible shape, best possible position to try to be on that team. A long time away, but definitely a goal to set and try to chase.”
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at email@example.com.