Phoenix Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett knows more than most what it’s like to represent a country in the Winter Olympics, having done so for Team Canada at the 1984 games in Sarajevo.
So color Tippett a bit unhappy regarding the news that one of his current players, defenseman Keith Yandle, failed to receive a nod when the United States made its final roster selections for Sochi earlier this week.
“I know the aura about the Olympics, so I was very disappointed that Keith did not get picked there,” Tippett said. “I think he’s played well enough to get picked there. But you have to understand how guys go about picking the team and the other elements they have on the team and how they feel like they are going to structure their team.
“You respect those opinions, but I really think Keith has played well enough to be there.”
Yandle, now in his sixth full season with Phoenix, is well on his way to a fourth 40-point season with six goals and 21 assists, however Tippett pointed to location as a possible reason why the 27-year-old was omitted from the Olympic roster.
“I don’t think Keith gets seen as much as some of the players on the east coast,” said Tippett. “But the biggest thing that disappoints me is that Keith has really tried to improve the defensive part of his game.
“The last two months, it’s as good as I’ve ever seen him play defensively in the five years that I’ve been here. So not to give a chance to get on that world stage is disappointing for him. You feel for a guy like that.”
While Tippett certainly had hoped Yandle would make the mid-February trip over to Russia with Team USA, the Coyotes coach did try to find a silver lining.
“Hopefully, he uses it as motivation,” said Tippett. “And he’ll use the break to get a little rest and we can have a real good stretch out of him.”
The eight blue liners selected in lieu of Yandle by the United States were Ryan Suter (Wild), Kevin Shattenkirk (Blues), Ryan McDonagh (Rangers), Justin Faulk (Hurricanes), Brooks Orpik (Penguins), Paul Martin (Penguins), Cam Fowler (Ducks) and John Carlson (Capitals).