LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- USA Hockey has announced Dean Lombardi, president and general manager of the Los Angeles Kings, will be the general manager of Team USA for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey in Toronto next September.
Lombardi has been a member of USA Hockey's advisory board since 2009, but this is his first opportunity with USA Hockey in an official management capacity. Joining him in the decision-making process are Paul Holmgren, president of the Philadelphia Flyers, as assistant general manager and Brian Burke, president of hockey operations for the Calgary Flames, as a senior adviser.
After the announcement Thursday, Lombardi gave an impassioned speech about patriotism and legacy, citing George Washington as the United States' first great teammate -- someone who set aside ego, recognized the higher cause and accepted a lesser role in pursuit of what was best for the greater good.
He also drew upon the history of the 1980 Olympic Team and the 1996 World Cup Team and the tradition of success they helped create. Lombardi wants this team to feel a sense of obligation to maintain and build upon that legacy and what it means to be a U.S. hockey player.
"It is only fitting that this announcement takes place in Lake Placid, New York -- the site of the greatest spiritual victory in the sport of ice hockey for this country. It is an illustrious example of the power of team, an example of the power of burying your ego, the power of accepting roles and the power of the pursuit of a higher cause," he said. "It's time for the Parises, the Suters, the McDonaghs and the Quicks to understand their legacy and build upon that legacy as the next generation of great American players."
USA Hockey must submit a preliminary roster of at least 16 players, including two goaltenders, no later than March 1. While Lombardi anticipates some carryover from the 2014 Olympic team, he has already begun targeting players to watch who have the potential to supplant some of those veterans.
"We had some lengthy meetings a couple weeks ago, but what I would say is, we could certainly foresee a number of changes." Lombardi said. "I can tell you we are certainly prepared to [make those changes]."
The management group has already begun the process of selecting a coach and would like to make that decision as soon as possible so they can work hand in hand to get the players they want to play the type of system they want.
"I've got a lot of work to do here," Lombardi said. "This is where [Jim Johannson, assistant executive director of USA Hockey] to me is invaluable and we spent time at the world championships being in this international setting and short tournament. Paul and Brian have extensive experience in this arena, and I've already had an extensive talk with [Toronto Maple Leafs general manager] Lou Lamoriello. I don't really want to rush any of these decisions. I don't have a definitive answer, but I want to have a plan in place very shortly.
"It's not only [deciding] who the best players are but also the players that will fit best with the players we feel are core, so to speak. So we have to identify our core early, whether it's five, seven or eight, and then start working from there with what fits with that core and into various roles."
One of the new twists to this edition of the World Cup is the YoungStars team, made up of North American players under 23. The NHL and NHL Players' Association will select a management team, which will then select the coaches and players and will subsequently provide an additional challenge for teams USA and Canada as certain players will be unavailable. Lombardi said he is excited to embrace every challenge the appointment brings.
"To be entrusted with this responsibility and this role in serving my country is one of the highest honors of my career, and I can assure you that myself and my staff will do everything in our power to make this country proud," Lombardi said.