Krug: 'Knew I didn't have much of a sniff' at Olympic team

Krug: 'Knew I didn't have much of a sniff' at Olympic team
January 2, 2014, 2:00 pm
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BOSTON – Torey Krug said he knew that he “wasn’t getting a sniff” from USA Hockey for the Olympic team pretty early on in the process.

He wasn’t invited to the Team USA Orientation camp this summer, and that was understandable given that he’d only just begun to establish himself at the NHL level with a standout performance during last spring’s Stanley Cup playoffs. But the 22-year-old defenseman has also never been a part of many Team USA select teams despite a stellar amateur career at Michigan State, and wasn’t a graduate of the US National Team Development Program that’s produced many of the players on this winter’s American roster.

So he wasn’t surprised his name wasn’t called when the team was announced, and remains very hopeful he’ll get the call in 2018 or 2022 if NHL players are still involved in the Olympics.

“I knew I didn’t really have much of a sniff in the first place,” admitted Krug, who scored an overtime game-winner against two of the big Team USA voices in this year's team in Penguins GM Ray Shero and head coach Dan Bylsma. “They can say all they want, but I never really had a sniff. I’m a younger guy, and coming into the league at my age gives you more opportunities to put yourself in a position to be considered for an Olympic team.

“But I’ve never been a player that USA hockey has liked all that much, for whatever reason. Maybe it’s a size thing? I don’t know. I’m just worried about things that are going on with the Bruins. If down the road I’m considered for such a thing it would be pretty special, and pretty cool. I’ll just keep working hard, and if they do send the call my way then that would be cool.”

Clearly he must have been on the radar of the team’s management group given that he’s fourth among all NHL defensemen with eight goals this season, and that Krug’s presence has been one of the chief reasons the Bruins now have a top 10 power play after years as a laughingstock.

But the embedded pieces from ESPN.com’s Scott Burnsides and the USA Today’s Kevin Allen never gave mention of Krug as even a remote possibility, and the 17:36 of ice time per game with the Bruins speaks to the development that’s still ongoing on his game. Clearly Keith Yandle is the US-born defenseman with the most to gripe about after being snubbed despite being arguably the best offensive defenseman in the talent pool for Team USA. The absence of Dustin Byfuglien also means two of the top three NHL point-getters among American-born defensemen for this season didn’t crack the final roster.

“I’m not really focused on it. When you hear about it, I’m really more focused on my spot up here [at the NHL level],” said Krug, who leads all rookie NHL defensemen with eight goals and 20 points on the season. “There have been ups and downs, and I’m just focused about getting out of the downs. I haven’t really thought much about it.”

At this point, Krug is clearly more focused on the first major slump of his NHL career. The puck-moving defenseman has gone without a goal in his last 10 games with only three assists and a minus-3 rating as opposing defenses seem to be keying on him that much more.

That’s a much more pressing concern for Krug than the US entry in an elite hockey tournament going on in Russia next month that’s been talked about quite a bit over the last 24 hours.