Ron Wilson set to become coach of Team USA in 2010

Brian Burke, Executive Director and General Manager of USA Hockey, admitted this weekend that Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson is the leading candidate to coach Team USA in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. Many in the hockey community feel this duo’s drive and fire for the game could lead the Americans to a gold medal.

The connection between Burke and Wilson began as teammates at Providence College 35 years ago and their bond and mutual respect for one another is still strong today. Privately, both men have long wanted to work together to rebuild a NHL franchise.

Burke is a leader with drive and purpose, and he has a vision for how an organization is to court success. Wilson is an old school coach in terms of his stern and demanding style, but he brings a sense of levity to the locker room that keeps the players at ease. There is no retreat in either’s character, so you can expect constructive arguments between the two on the structure of the U.S. team roster.

Each professes that a team must have quality play from the backline, but they also understand tough, physical players are just as important as skilled, crowd-pleasing scorers. In his initial press conference, Burke mentioned that this is the deepest talent pool that has ever been available to USA Hockey.

Wilson is equipped to handle the media pressure associated with the Olympics, as he coached the Americans to a victory in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey. He still points to that championship as one of his greatest thrills in his professional career, and he recently became the 11th coach in league history to win 500 games.

If this duo does indeed collaborate for the Vancouver Games, expect good things from Team USA.

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