MINSK, Belarus -- Tom Kurvers displayed his talents as an offensive-minded defenseman during 11 NHL seasons, winning a Stanley Cup title with the Montreal Canadians in 1986, however, in his new role with the 2014 U.S. Men’s National Team Advisory Group, he is a rookie once again.
Kurvers, the senior advisor to the Tampa Bay Lightning general manager, was approached by Jim Johannson, USA Hockey executive director of hockey operations, and advisory group member David Poile. In early April, following discussions, Kurvers was offered the position with the 2014 U.S. Men’s National Team. Poile had first requested permission from Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman, which he readily granted.
“I was surprised to be invited in to work with this team,” said Kurvers, during an interview in Minsk. “It was an opportunity that you just don’t get a shot at to participate in often.”
“Having played for a couple of U.S. National Teams in these events, I knew the outline of it, but it has changed a lot since I played and it’s been an interesting process,” said Kurvers, who represented the U.S. on the 1982 U.S. National Junior Team and also won the Hobey Baker Award in 1984, while at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
The U.S. Men’s National Team Advisory Group was established in February of 2007 to assist USA Hockey with the selection of both players and staff of U.S. Men’s National Teams, including the Olympic Team.
Kurvers joins a brain trust of brilliant hockey minds comprised of NHL general managers Stan Bowman (Chicago), Paul Holmgren (Philadelphia), Dean Lombardi (Los Angeles), Poile (Nashville) and Dale Tallon (Florida). Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke, Pittsburgh Penguins pro scout Don Waddell, Ray Shero and Johannson round out the advisory group.
“He’s a classy guy with a lot to say and with tremendous knowledge,” said Tallon about Kurvers. “He’s been around for a long time as a player, scout and assistant GM; he’s very well connected in Minnesota which is a hotbed for USA Hockey, and he’s not afraid to voice his opinion so he fits in nicely.”
“You’re not going to re-invent anything, you just step in and try to understand what their process is,” said the 51-year-old Kurvers about joining the advisory group. “There is a lot of communication, but the process is very precise and they know the pace of things to build the team.”
At the world championship in Minsk, Kurvers continues to witness firsthand the skilled and savvy play of his Tampa Bay Lightning rookie of the year candidate, Tyler Johnson. The 23-year-old Johnson – who had 24 goals and 26 assists for the Lightning this season – has skated on the most productive line for Team USA alongside Craig Smith and Brock Nelson, scoring two goals and three assists in five games.
“He’s really made great progress over the last couple of years,” Kurvers said about Johnson. “He was undrafted, we were able to sign him and he’s earned everything he’s had in the NHL. I think when he comes to an event like this, it just broadens the number of people who know how good he is.”
Seeing Kurvers around the arena and collaborating with the advisory group, it is evident that the two-time member of the U.S. Men’s National Team (1987, ’89) relishes his new role and return to ice hockey’s global championship.
“What has been enjoyable, having played in the event and getting back to see it again reminds you that you can’t get the same feel of the game unless you are here,” Kurvers said. “To see the crowd juice the game up when we played Belarus and Russia, to be here is pretty awesome.
“I think the profile of the event is growing among players in the NHL and in North America. All the games are on TV now in the U.S., it’s a bigger deal and great to be a part of once again.”
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HELSINKI, Finland - Kyle Palmieri (Smithtown, N.Y./Anaheim Ducks/University of Notre Dame) and Bobby Ryan (Cherry Hill, N.J./Anaheim Ducks) each scored for Team USA, but Finland's Jesse Jonesuu tallied the game-winning goal with nine seconds remaining in regulation, as the U.S. Men's National Team fell to Finland, 3-2, in the quarterfinals of the 2012 International Ice Hockey Federation Men's World Championship at Hartwall Arena.
Team USA won six of its eight games in the tournament and officially finished with a record of 4-2-0-2 (W-OTW-OTL-L). The U.S. will finish sixth in the final standings if Sweden beats the Czech Republic in the final quarterfinal game tonight in Stockholm or seventh if the Czech Republic wins.
"We knew it would be a tough game," saidScott Gordon, head coach of Team USA. "We battled and certainly had our chances, but tonight they were just a little bit better than us. In the end, I liked our group and thought they represented our country extremely well."
After a scoreless first period, Finland opened the scoring at 13:27 of the second period. But the U.S. responded 21 seconds later when Jeff Petry (Ann Arbor, Mich./Edmonton Oilers/Michigan State University) found Palmieri streaking through the slot. Palmieri redirected the pass into the back of the net to tie the game and send the teams into the second intermission tied 1-1.
Ryan put home a rebound of a Justin Faulk (South St. Paul, Minn./Carolina Hurricanes/University of Minnesota Duluth) shot from the point to stake the U.S. to a 2-1 lead just 1:39 into the third period. The U.S. maintained its lead until Mikko Koivu had a puck glance off his skate and past Jimmy Howard (Syracuse, N.Y./Detroit Red Wings/University of Maine) with 6:58 left in regulation to tie the game. Joensuu recorded his second goal of the game from the side of the net with nine seconds remaining to give Finland the victory.
Howard, who was named Team USA's Player of the Game, made 28 saves, while Petri Vehanen had 24 stops for Finland.
NOTES: Team USA's Best Three Players of the Tournament were Jimmy Howard, Paul Stastny and Justin Faulk ... Justin Faulk led all Team USA defensemen with eight points (4-4) in the tournament. He also paced the team with a plus-nine rating ... Team USA didn't have a power-play opportunity on the night, while Finland went 0-for-1 with the man advantage ... Max Pacioretty's 12 points (2-10) were the most points of any U.S. player in the IIHF Men's World Championship since at least 1975 ... Defenseman Jack Johnsonwas the captain of Team USA. The alternate captains were forwards Jim Slater and Nate Thompson ... Scott Gordon was the head coach of the 2012 U.S. Men's National Team. Greg Cronin and David Quinn served as assistant coaches ... The 2012 U.S. Men’s National Team was under the direction of the U.S. Men’s National Team Advisory Group, led by Jim Johannson, assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey. Other members include NHL general managers Stan Bowman (Chicago), Brian Burke (Toronto), Paul Holmgren (Philadelphia), Dean Lombardi (Los Angeles), David Poile (Nashville), Ray Shero (Pittsburgh) and Dale Tallon (Florida) and Pittsburgh Penguins pro scout Don Waddell ... USA Hockey's international council, chaired by Tony Rossi, vice president of USA Hockey, has oversight responsibilities for all U.S. national teams ... NBC Sports televised all Team USA games in the 2012 IIHF Men's World Championship.
Scoring By Period
USA 0- 1- 1- 2
FIN 0- 1- 2- 3
First Period – Scoring: None. Penalties: None.
Second Period – Scoring: 1, FIN, Joensuu (Pihlstrom, Kukkonen), 13:27; 2, USA, Palmieri (Petry, Crabb), 13:48. Penalties: USA, Pacioretty (hooking), 7:35.
Third Period – Scoring: 3, USA, Ryan (Faulk, Smith), 1:39; FIN, Koivu (Jokinen, Filppula), 13:02; 5, FIN, Joensuu (Kontiola), 19:51. Penalties: None.
Shots by Period 1 2 3 Total
USA 10 9 7 26
FIN 7 10 14 31
Goaltenders (SH/SV) 1 2 3 Total
USA, Howard, 59:49 7/7 10/9 14/12 31/28
FIN, Vehanen, 60:00 10/10 9/8 7/6 26/24
Power Play: USA 0-0; FIN 0-1
Penalties: USA 1-2; FIN 0-0