Monday, 12 June 2017

Dave Ogrean leaves a lasting legacy on USA Hockey

The Pittsburgh Penguins dominated the Predators in Game 6 and now they'll head to Nashville with a shot to win their second consecutive Stanley Cup.

When Dave Ogrean was USA Hockey's public relations director in August of 1979, he had a meeting with legendary coach Herb Brooks in a janitor's closet that he will never forget.
It was during the gold medal game of the Sports Festival at the old Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo., when Brooks climbed the ladder to the press box to summon Ogrean.

"We head into the janitor's closet, and I take out my reporter's spiral notebook, shut the door, and Herb says, 'OK, here's the roster,'" Ogrean said. "That was the first time that 1980 U.S. Olympic roster was ever written down. We announced the 26 name later that night."
Ogrean recalled the story as he worked his final week as executive director of USA Hockey. He is officially retiring Saturday after 21 years with the organization during three different tours of duty. He was PR director from 1978-80, executive director from 1993-1999 and then came back as executive director in 2005 to the present.

Under his command, the number of USA Hockey participants has more than doubled, the U.S. National Team Development Program was born, the American Development Model was instituted and the Americans have won 55 medals in international competition. One of Ogrean's strengths was his relationship with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
Through it all, Ogrean has primarily had a front row seat to witness every major American hockey success for the last 37 years, starting with the 1980 Olympic triumph at Lake Placid.

"Another of my favorite memories is the horn going off in the women's Olympic gold medal game in 1998 in Nagano," Ogrean said. "With that team, we weren't following anyone's footsteps. We had a chance four or five years earlier to put together a blue print for the first time and the women came through for us."
Known as one of hockey's great storytellers, Ogrean recalls a Nagano bar room conversation in 1998 with long-time USA Hockey equipment manager and team leader Bob Webster.

With the medal-round approaching, Ogrean told Webster he didn't want any regrets about the women's first Olympic run.
"Is there any rock we haven't turned over?" Ogrean asked Webster.
Ogrean said they stared at each other for 15 seconds, and it was as if they both had the idea at the same time.

"Do you have his number?" Ogrean asked.
The "he" was Peter Haberl, the team psychologist who didn't make the trip to Nagano because the team's credentials were limited.
"The women really, really, really like and respected him, and he did a fabulous job," Ogrean said.

Ogrean knew Haberl had a brother in Tokyo, and he called Haberl and asked if he could get a week off, fly to Tokyo and have his brother bring him to Nagano. The plan was to get him day passes to get into Olympic village.
The U.S. women were never told he was coming, and when he walked into the athlete's dining room, the reception was everything Ogrean hoped it would be.

"It's impossible to calculate, what impact, if any, that he had," Ogrean said. "But it was the only thing we hadn't done and I didn't want to leave that stone unturned."
It's hard for Ogrean to pinpoint what he is most proud of during his time with USA Hockey, but he thinks it might be the NTDP.  That's USA Hockey's program that brings together elite U.S. players to form an under-18 and under-17 national team for special training and competition. Many top NHL draft picks have come out of the program, including Patrick Kane, Auston Matthews and Jack Eichel among others.

"Nothing is ever just one person's doing," Ogrean said. "But that program has had a revolutionary impact on how organization is perceived. It's a major contributor to a radically enhanced relationship with the National Hockey League. There's a complete new level of respect for American hockey domestically and internationally."
Ogrean's final year in his job has included some difficult times. USA Hockey was involved in an ugly, contentious contract negotiation with members of the U.S. women's national team.

"I wish we would have never had the women's squabble," Ogrean said. "Times are different than they were 20 years ago. It wasn't unprecedented. Soccer went through it. I'm glad it's over, and I'm glad it was over quick enough that we could win the World Championship gold."
Ogrean also has a positive spin on the fact that the NHL isn't allowing its players to compete in the 2018 Olympic Games.

"I think having the NHL players in the Olympics makes it the best sporting event in the history of the world, and I expect the NHL will be back (in China in 2022)," Ogrean said. "I understand why they are not going in 2018, but I still see the glass as half-full. Now we are going to field a team of 23 guys who never dreamed they could be Olympians. They have grown up in an age with National Hockey League stars owning those jerseys."

Ogrean, 64, said he has never regretted his retirement plan, which has been in place since January. "No buyer's remorse at all," he said.
The reason, he said, is that he still plans to stay active as a consultant on many projects, some of them with USA Hockey.

"If I was flicking the off switch, I would be more concerned," he said. "It's not an off switch, it's a reset. Just dialing it down a bit."

Please tell us your opinion about this post through the comment section.


Author: verified_user