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USA Hockey general manager criticizes team's core leadership

Dean Lombardi demanded more from veterans after a poor showing at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2016 World Cup of Hockey on the horizon and the disappointing 2014 Winter Olympics still fresh in his mind, USA Hockey general manager Dean Lombardi demanded more from his veterans on Tuesday.

During a meeting with the media, Lombardi questioned the leadership shown by his top players in 2014, when the Americans failed to reach the medal stand. According to Puck Daddy, Lombardi specifically pointed to New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh and Minnesota Wild veterans Zach Parise and Ryan Suter as players who need to step up.

"Some of our top players, in that mid-range group in the last Olympics, probably didn't realize it was their team now," he said.

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"The training wheels were taken off" for Sochi, said Lombardi. "It was your time. And I don't think they realized it at that time."

Reporters brought up the fact that the roster will be different due to the North American "young stars" team that will inevitably sap some of the talent available to Team USA for the World Cup. But Lombardi assured that roster changes were coming anyways based on leadership.

"Some of the best players aren't going to be qualified [to play for us]," he said. "I think there's a definite trend towards having a bit of a turnover. Not only with the [young] players but with the players that will be back in assuming more hands-on leadership role. I think that's one of the things that we learned from the last team. I'm not sure some of those top players realized it's now their team, it's their responsibility to take over. So there's a transition there as well in terms of new faces."

Initial rosters for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey will be announced by March 1. Newly hired Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella will step in to coach Team USA. Held in Toronto, the 2016 World Cup will run from September 16 to October 1 and feature six national teams and a pair of young stars teams representing North America and Europe, respectively.