Burke juggling on- and off-ice challenges

February, 19, 2010
02/19/10
5:09
PM ET

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Team USA GM Brian Burke left Vancouver after his team's 6-1 victory over Norway on Thursday and headed to Miami University to attend a memorial service honoring his son Brendan.

A scholarship fund will be established in Brendan Burke's name at the university where he worked with the top-ranked collegiate team. Burke died in a car accident on Feb. 6.

Brian Burke will attend Friday's service and is scheduled to return to Vancouver on Saturday as the U.S. prepares for Sunday's highly anticipated clash with Canada, which will determine the winner of their preliminary-round pool.

But before he left the Olympics, Burke spoke to ESPN.com with excitement about the game in which his team will be a significant underdog. He said athletes are defined by how they respond to challenges and overcome adversity.

"Great players respond at those moments and great teams respond at these moments," Burke said.

Are his youthful American players ready to respond? "I sense that they're ready," he said.

He pointed out how the media do not consider the Americans a threat in this tournament, even though they are 2-0 and have six points, one more than Canada.

"They haven't been reckoned with at all in the media," Burke said. "No one gives them a chance and I think it annoys them."

A number of the U.S. players have won Stanley Cups, including captain Jamie Langenbrunner (two), Brian Rafalski (three), and Chris Drury and Brooks Orpik (one each). Yet, this is as big a game as most will have played. And in the "cauldron" of pressure that comes with playing Canada in Canada, with an automatic bye to the quarterfinals at stake, Burke said this will reveal Team USA's character.

"There's no hiding," Burke said. "It's time to stand up and be counted."

Scott Burnside

ESPN Senior Writer

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