Olympic disappointment may “fuel the fire” for Blackhawks’ Brandon Saad

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UNIONDALE, N.Y. —Brandon Saad took little solace in the fact that he was essentially the last man cut before Team USA announced its roster for the upcoming Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re the last cut, or cut early on,” Saad said after Thursday’s morning skate on Long Island. “Either way, it’s the same result: You didn’t make the team. Hopefully next time.”

The Blackhawks were flying to New York during the Winter Classic, and missed the post game announcement of the U.S. roster. Saad got the bad news from his agent when they landed. According to ESPN.com, which was granted special access to the Team USA selection process over the past several months, Saad was in until pretty much the very last minute, when St. Louis’ T.J. Oshie and Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler passed him up.

That means if there’s an injury between now and the Olympics, Saad or Ottawa’s Bobby Ryan — perhaps the most surprising name left off the team — could be the next man in.

“He would certainly be in the conversation, yeah,” said Stan Bowman, the Hawks general manager and a member of the selection committee. “He got a lot of attention coming down the stretch. I know he impressed a lot of people who didn’t know much about him until the first few months of the season. The way he’s played an all-around game, scoring and doing a little bit of everything, I think it’s attractive.”

Bowman — who, according to the ESPN.com story, pushed for Saad by equating him to a young Marian Hossa —was disappointed he didn’t make it, but added, “It’s a hard team to make.”

The 21-year-old Saad took the disappointment in stride, saying it could “fuel the fire a bit.”

“Obviously, I want to make it this time around, but I’m still young and hopefully I’ll have more opportunities,” he said.

Hossa, who will be playing for Slovakia in the Olympics, was surprised that Saad didn’t make it.

“The way Saader’s playing right now, he definitely deserved to be on the team,” Hossa said. “He’s playing unbelievable right now.”

Patrick Kane, the lone Hawks player to make the squad, also was disappointed that both Saad and defenseman Nick Leddy won’t be joining him in Sochi.

“It would have been nice to have both of them there,” Kane said. “But at the same time, they’re both young guys, they’re going to get that opportunity again. And from what it sounds like, Saader was pretty close to making it. He could be the next guy if someone gets injured or something. There’s no hope lost yet. They’re both great players, not just in this league but overall, too. I’m sure you’re going to see them playing [in the Olympics] before their career is over.”

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