The morning of his season opening game Oct. 3, Dan Bylsma (above) was asked if he would be making in-game evaluations of any opposing players who may be potential selections for the United States Olympic team he will coach in Sochi while also fulfilling his duties as the Penguins head coach.
Succinctly, Bylsma replied, "There’s no other way to answer that but yes, of course."
While that process adds a few more layers to Bylsma's job(s), has it had any impact on the players he has been evaluating?
In recent weeks, a handful of players who may potentially play for Bylsma in Sochi were asked if playing in front of him (as well as assistant coach Tony Granato and team USA associated general manager Ray Shero) weighed on their minds:
James van Riemsdyk, Maple Leafs – “I think you’re aware of it but at the same time, [I’m] just worried about what I do for the team here and playing the role to the best of my abilities. Obviously, maybe that is an added incentive but I’m just worried about hopefully helping us win.”
Joe Pavelski (right), Sharks – “I’m sure there’s been a lot of scouting on their part. It’s a chance to players first-hand in person. We don’t see them much. I haven’t seen them much in person in my career as far as playing against them. You establish relationships in the summer in camps and go from there. But obviously, tonight is a chance to show them you belong.”
Jack Johnson, Blue Jackets – “I want to have a good showing, just for my own personal pride. All the people of Team USA know who I am. One game isn’t going to all of a sudden change someone’s mind after one game. I’ve been in the league for quite a while and played a lot of USA hockey. I think they know who I am and what I can do.”
Kyle Palmieri, Ducks – “Obviously to get noticed by the coach would be big to kind of leave an impression because we don’t play them that often. Yeah, it’s in your mind but I wouldn’t say it has too much of an effect. You just want to get out there and play your game and play the game that’s helping your team win.
Seth Jones, Predators - It’s pretty cool knowing [there is consideration for the Olympic roster]. Everyone’s dream is to make the Olympics and my goal is to make it this year but it doesn’t’ affect me in any way. I’m still going to go out – even if he wasn’t watching me – the same way. I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team here. My focus is on the Nashville Predators right now.
Cory Schneider, Devils – I don’t know exactly where I stand or what my status is but it would be nice to play well in front of him and leave a good impression in his mind before they go to pick a team. But it’s more about getting the win here for our team and getting two big points against a good team. But if another result of that is leaving a good impression, that’s always a positive.
(Photos: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)