At the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, the United States went win less in the primarily round with a 5-2 loss to the Czech Republic on Thursday. They will face Switzerland in the 7th place game on Saturday.
It begs the question, should USA Hockey use the National Team Development Program in this event?
My personal opinion is yes they should. Unlike the World Under 18 Championships, the Ivan Hlinka brings the best to the best under one roof (Okay maybe two roofs but you get what I am saying.). Canada can't send their best because of the CHL and Junior A playoffs that take place in April.
Unlike Canada, the United States struggles when they bring their B Team. I know this team didn't have a lot of time to gel but that's the key in a short tournament in chemistry. USA Hockey has that advantage over the rest of the teams with the NTDP and they should use it. I am sure some of the NTDP players are playing hockey this week. It's not like they are just relaxing and not working in the summer. They should be given the option if they want to play on this team at the very least.
USA Hockey should reward the kids that standout at the Select 17's and should be able to compete at the international stage. There's a Four or a Five Nations tournament in Ann, Arbor, Michigan that they could compete in during the season. They would get the exposure from the scouts and face quality talent. I am sure their teams would have no problem releasing the player for a weekend to compete for their country. Most likely major junior teams wouldn't release a player but I think the rest would. That includes the USHL because the release players for the World Junior "A" Challenge.
This is the first year I really pay attention to the Ivan Hlinka and surprise how every team is stronger then the Americans. Maybe USA Hockey underestimated the talent at this tournament but its time to bring the elite of the elite that the United States has to offer.
There's a poll on this subject in the right column.
That's My Take
(Nathan also is a writer for MVN.com. He's the writer for the Asylum which covers the Lewiston Maineiacs of the QMJHL. He's also a regular contributor to the NHL Source also at MVN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com)