Research; Not Just for Research Papers

Countless hours, and resources go into research in zoos and aquariums every year. Studies that cover education evaluation, breeding programs, visitor trends, behavioral analysis, and many other areas are published every year. Zoos and aquariums want to be the best at what they do, and for this to be the case you have to know how effective your programs are. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the gold standard for the industry, requires program, animal behavior, and enrichment evaluations. This is a financial, and staff time encumbrance for almost every institution. But, if you want truly make a difference, you have to put the resources into research.

15 years ago, Dr. Kurt Benirschke, Director of Research for San Diego Zoo at the time, said “zoo research” was essential for maintaining wildlife species in captivity.[1] Zoos and aquariums were doing research, but it was only reactionary and not proactive. Dr. Benirschke thought that if organizations combined their research they could collect and generate biological databases for numerous species. These databases could now be used in the wild, and in captivity, to create the best practices and breeding models for the species. Snyder, and colleagues, thought that mandated research could help zoos and aquariums hit their conservation and biodiversity goals.[2]

The AZA has created a directory for all research performed by accredited members for easy access and analysis by members. The development of research programs is still in the infancy stage. Programs are altered on a yearly basis to be more thorough and effective, but the field is growing. Another result of the research has been the creation of Scientific Advisory Groups (SAGS) for multiple species. SAGs are composed of experts from the zoo and aquarium field, as well as university and government scholars. Dr. Matt Allender, Professor from the University of Illinois, is our veterinarian here at Miller Park Zoo. He is also on multiple SAG and Veterinary Advisory Groups (VAG). He leads multiple turtle VAGs. He uses the AZA directory to consult other experts when making diet, husbandry and breeding recommendations for our animals at the zoo.

One of the zoo species that has struggled to breed in captivity is the polar bear. A lot of breeding knowledge was anecdotal in the past. Keepers would hand down information, but didn’t have a lot of science, or research, to substantiate their claims. Research has changed this. Institutions gathered all 99 years of studbook keeping for the polar bears and analyzed it. They studied latitude, year of birth, parental demographics, sex, survival, litter size and litter order.[3] Research like this can create a shift in breeding strategies. One important result was that first time mothers had a much greater chance of the offspring not living to adulthood. Mothers become more successful if they have multiple litters. Zoos and aquariums know to give mothers multiple chances to rear young, as their natural instincts improve with each birth.

Decades of research has resulted in zoos and aquariums becoming much more effective at breeding. Data is analyzed to determine factors such as most effective time of year, animal holding areas, nutrition, and other important influences to create the best chance for successful copulation. Research notes all of these factors in successful, and unsuccessful breeding, so that every institution can make informed and strategic decisions when choosing a breeding strategy. Zoos will also incorporate domestic research into similar exotic species. This was true with domestic dogs and the red wolf breeding program.[4]

Although breeding is a very important role of zoos and aquariums, it is not the only reason for research. Multiple studies have looked into animal behavior and the effects of human visitors. The segment of the population that is against zoos and aquariums would argue that it is not right for animals to be kept in captivity. They say the animals should be in the wild. This argument is perfectly valid, and most in the industry would not disagree. But, it is important for people to see these animals so that they can become engaged, and take a role in their survival and well-being. This is why researching their behavior while in captivity is vital. A group studied spider monkeys on an island in Lake Catemaco, in Mexico, to see what result human visitors had on their behavior.[5] They found an increase in self-directed behaviors and decreased vocalizations when humans were present. Although the results varied among individuals, the conclusion was that the human visitors did have a slightly negative effect on behavior. Zoos can use studies like this to change exhibit layouts, and decide the best practices for displaying the species in the most calming manner.

Another study similar to the spider monkey research, was is a study of ambassador animals. Dr. Chris Kuhar wrote about this study in a recent issue of Connect.[6] Ambassador animals are used for guest engagement and education classes. Here at Miller Park Zoo we have a special collection that is not on display to the general public that we use for special occasions and education opportunities. A lot of professionals wanted to study the well-being of the animals who were used for encounters. No data existed to measure the psychology of the ambassador animals. The AZA decided to evaluate these animals with a thorough study. The study is just beginning, but results have led to a change in the way ambassador animals are held, and the frequency of their interactions. Documentation is now required for every animal interaction, and length of the interaction. There is now a standard length of time, and number of visits a month, that an animal can be used for engagement. Every animal is different, so every requirement is different. Research into ambassador animals has led to a safer exhibit spaces and more animal welfare friendly regulations.

Zoo and aquarium research has improved, not only the breeding programs, but husbandry, nutrition, and animal well-being. With the industry spending more resources on research the possibilities are endless. Zoos will become more effective in every aspect of their mission. Evaluation of the research will lead to breakthroughs, and eventually, a shift to more effective conservation practices. The end goal for zoos and aquariums will be a world in which animals and humans can live in close quarters without infringing on the animals natural habitat. Science and research will lead us to new and innovative ways to create products, and live without destroying the nonrenewable beauty of this world.

[1] Goodrowe, Karen. (2003). Programs for Invasive Research in North American Zoos and Aquariums. ILAR Journal. 44(4). 317-323. doi.org/10.1093/ilar.44.4.317

[2] Snyder NF Derrickson SRBeissinger SR Wiley JW Smith TB Toone WD Miller B. 1995. Limitations of captive breeding in endangered species recovery. Cons Biol 10: 338– 348.

[3] CURRY, Erin. Reproductive trends of captive polar bears in North American zoos: a historical analysis. Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research, 3(3), p. 99-106, july 2015.  http://www.jzar.org/jzar/article/view/133

 

[4] Goodrowe KL Mastromonaco GF Ryckman DP Walker SL Bateman HL Platz CC Waddell WT. 2001. In vitro maintenance and effects of cooling and cryopreservation on red wolf ( Canis rufus ) sperm characteristics. J Reprod Fertil 57 (Suppl) : 387– 392.

[5] Perez-Galicia, Sergio and Manuel Miranda-Anaya. Visitor Effect on the Behavior of a Group of Spider Monkeys Maintained at an Island in Lake Catemaco. Zoo Biology. 2017; 1-7. https://doi.org/10.1002/zoo.21384

[6] Kuhar Chris PhD. Ambassador Animals. Connect. May 2015. 10. http://www.aza.org/assets/2332/web_-_connect_magazine_may_2015.pdf

 

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Zoos and Aquariums Saving Species and Habitats

Zoos and Aquariums love to have visitors, but their number one goal should always be education and conservation. For a message to be effective an audience is needed, but convincing visitors to support the long term stability, and health of animals should always be at the forefront. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) have more than 230 institutions that contribute to over 500 Species Survival Plans (SSPs).[1] The main function of every SSP is to help reproduction of each individual species. Each SSP coordinator, and their team, collect data and take appropriate action on each animal in the program. Each SSP has the support of other advisory groups that recommend proper nutrition, exhibit size, and other relevant information covered in a care manual for each species.

Breeding recommendations are made and animals are ranked based on their genetics. The ultimate goal is to breed the most valuable males and females to create the most genetically diverse and healthy offspring. The few examples of successful SSPs are red wolves, California condor, and black-footed ferrets. There are currently 31 species classified as Extinct in the Wild that are being bred in zoos and aquariums.[2] Jennifer Bove emphasizes the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s study stating that “conservation breeding and reintroduction have helped prevent the extinction of six out of 16 critically endangered bird species and nine out of 13 mammal species, including species previously classified as Extinct in the Wild.” Considering that these animals had zero left in the wild, these results are remarkable. Boye credits the work of zoos and aquariums for the success. Without zoos and aquariums willing to provide the space, and proper research, these animals would be extinct.

One of the success stories, red wolves, are housed at Miller Park Zoo. Being an employee of the Zoo, I have witnessed firsthand the amount of detail and planning that each species entails. The wolves once roamed Southeast North America, and in 1980 there were fewer than 20 wolves left in the wild. The wolves were rounded up and placed in institutions for breeding and study. Starting in 1987, red wolves were reintroduced to North Carolina. Today, there are over 50 red wolves in the wild, and over 200 in breeding facilities.[3] In a 2012 reintroduction, two of Miller Park Zoo’s wolves were introduced into the wild. Humans are still the number one threat to the red wolf, and many farmers kill the wolf to keep it from harming cattle or other livestock. While killing of the red wolf is illegal, it looks similar enough to a coyote, which is not currently protected, that they are not prosecuted due to mistaken identity. Zoos are not allowed to train the wolves while in their care. This is an important part of the wolves SSP, so that they can be reintroduced without jeopardizing their natural instincts. The red wolf program is being re-evaluated by the government, with the help of zoo experts, in hopes to making it more successful. Ultimately, we have to find a safe space for the wolves to roam without harming the farmer’s livestock.

Another animal with a great conservation story that is housed at Miller Park Zoo, is the Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo. The Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program manages over 194,000 acres of locally owned forest in Papau New Guinea. The area was being devastated by deforestation, and threatening the survival of the tree kangaroo. The Woodland Park Zoo Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program, Seattle, Washington, partnered with the Papau New Guinea Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program to create a long term solution. Together, they needed to provide relief to the animals of the area, while giving the locals a way to create income without destroying the animal’s habitat. This is the first time a conservation program has partnered indigenous communities for a shared conservation and sustainable livelihoods agenda.[4] The locals use the land to produce coffee. The coffee is all shade-grown, making it renewable and less damaging to the environment. To date, over $75,000 US dollars have been generated by the local farmers through the sale of the coffee. The program has given local farmers extra income, and made them less reliant on hunting, and using non-renewable resources to create income. The program has created buy-in with the locals, and is a blueprint for future collaboration projects. Not only has the tree kangaroo species been helped, but countless other species in the area have been positively affected.

Sometimes animals are saved by programs that go after the cause of habitat destruction. This is the case with Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Palm Oil Awareness Mission. Palm Oil is used in numerous products, and the habitat destruction has adversely effected orangutans. They have become a world leader in getting the message out about the palm oil crisis, and the long term devastation it will cause. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has created an app that can be used to determine if the product you are purchasing contains palm oil. AZA members have also started an initiative to not sale products that contain palm oil in their gift shops, or concession stands. The amount of time and resources that the Zoo has spent on the program shows you the passion, and drive that these organizations have to make the world a better place. Their list of candy that is palm oil safe, has been shared on social media, in one form or another, over 100 million times.[5]

 

The Director of Miller Park Zoo, Jay Tetzloff, is the head of the snow leopard SSP. This has led me to being able to view a program first hand. There are countless hours spent by each SSP director, and none of them are paid. This is done out of the goodness of their hearts, showing their true passion for conservation, and their love for the animals who are in their care. The yearly breeding recommendations start with a ranking of each snow leopard who is in the care of a zoo or aquarium. With the help of the SSP veterinarian, Tetzloff creates a numbered list of the males and the females, and the institution where they are currently housed. There is a line created, where anyone above the line is considered genetically diverse and brings new or unique DNA to the program. Any animal imported, or brought in from the wild, is automatically placed at the top of the list. The thought is that none of their DNA is currently in the zoo breeding program and will help bring diversity to the group. This is where the real work starts. Ideally, you would like the number 1 male and female to be together. Although, sometimes this is not logistically possible so exceptions are made. Zoos are notified if there snow leopards are to be shipped in or out. For example, if the number 3 male and female snow leopards have been together for numerous years without any successful breeding, they are most likely going to be separated. Animals must be examined by a veterinarian at least once a year, and are always given a physical before shipment. If an animal is found to have a medical reason that they cannot reproduce they are removed from the program. They are sent to a holding institution, otherwise known as non-breeding facility. This could be a same sex group, or a group of animals who are too young or too old to breed. The snow leopards who are still in the SSP breeding program, will now be paired with another genetically similarly ranked snow leopard, and moved from institution to institution accordingly.

The detail that goes into the genetic rankings was really fascinating to me.  Miller Park Zoo was the only institution to have successful litters of snow leopards two years in a row. Because of that success, and our female having a sister who is in the breeding program, she actually drops in rankings. All 5 of her cubs were females, meaning there is a lot of her DNA now in the program. I think to the average person this may seem extreme, but if you want to create a sustainable future, the animal’s health has to be top priority. You want genetic diversity so that no health issues can be passed down from generation to generation. In-breeding is a real concern, and you want to keep all genetics as separated as possible.

These are just a few examples of the species that would not be viewable for future generations without zoos and aquariums. There are countless other programs that have saved species from extinction, and in some cases, kept an animal from becoming endangered. While the Humane Society is a great organization, they do not have programs that help save species. They are worried about the here and now. To save animals, and habitats, we need zoos and aquariums. There is no other organization who cares as much about long term health for animals and our planet.

[1] “Species Survival Plan Programs.” 2017. https://www.aza.org/species-survival-plan-programs

 

[2] Bove, Jennifer. (2017, April 15). The Role of Zoos in Endangered Species Conservation. https://www.thoughtco.com/zoos-and-endangered-species-conservation-1182068

[3] “Red Wolf Recovery.” (2017, May 25). https://www.fws.gov/redwolf/

[4] Equator Initiative. 2016. “Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program.” https://zoo.org/file/conservation-documents/Equator-Initiative-Case-Study-TKCP2016.pdf

[5] Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. 2017. Palm Oil Candy-Orangutan Friendly. http://www.cmzoo.org/index.php/conservation-matters/palm-oil-crisis/po-orangutan-friendly-halloween-guide-2017/

Bracketology Week 4

A few highlights for the week. How about Florida’s week, FSU the 4th, Loyola-Chicago (No cupcake) the 6th, and Cincinatti the 9th. We will find out how good Nevada really is. They visit Texas Tech, and TCU this week. Villanova at Gonzaga is my game of the week.

IN: Virginia Tech, Kansas St., Mississippi St., Yale, E. Tennessee St., UNC Asheville, Stephen F. Austin, St. Francis Pa., Montana

Last Four In: St. Mary’s, Washington St., Mississippi St., Missouri

Last Four Out: Butler, Clemson, Maryland, Temple

 

1 Seeds-  Duke, Michigan St., Kansas, Villanova

2 Seeds- Texas A&M, Kentucky, Florida, Wichita St. (+1)

3 Seeds- Notre Dame (-1) UNC (+1), Miami, Gonzaga (+1)

4 Seeds- Xavier (+1), Virginia (+1), Minnesota (-1), West Virginia (+1) 

5 Seeds- TCU (+1), Cincinnati (-1), Arizona St. (+2), Seton Hall (+1)

6 Seeds- Nevada (+1), Baylor (-2), Purdue (+1), USC (-3)

7 Seeds- Creighton (+1), UCLA (+1), Texas Tech (-1), Tennessee (+2)

8 Seeds- Texas, Arizona, Louisville (-3), Rhode Island (+2)

9 Seeds- Oklahoma (+1), Alabama (-2)Virginia Tech (NEW), Providence (-1)

10 Seeds- Texas-Arlington (+1), Kansas St. (NEW), SMU (+1), Florida St. (+1)

11 Seeds- St. Mary’s, Missouri (-2), Mississippi St. (NEW), Washington St. (-2), Oregon, Georgia

12 Seeds- Belmont, Middle Tennessee, Vermont, Northern Iowa (-1)

13 Seeds- Ball St.,  Charleston, New Mexico St. (+1), Bucknell (+1)

14 Seeds-  Florida Gulf Coast (-2), Oakland, Charleston (-1), Yale (New)

15 Seeds- Monmouth, East Tennessee St. (NEW), UNC Asheville (NEW), South Dakota (+1)

16 Seeds- UC Irvine, NC Central, Stephen F. Austin (NEW), Texas Southern,  St. Francis Pa. (NEW), Montana (NEW),

Bracketology Week 3

1 Seeds-  Duke, Michigan St. (+1), Kansas, Villanova

2 Seeds- Texas A&M (+3), Kentucky (+1), Florida, Notre Dame (+1)

3 Seeds- Wichita St. (-1) , Minnesota (+1), Miami, USC

4 Seeds- Cincinnati, Gonzaga, UNC (-2), Baylor (+2)

5 Seeds- Louisville, Xavier (-1), West Virginia (+1), Virginia (+2)

6 Seeds- TCU, Seton Hall, Nevada (+1), Texas Tech (+1)

7 Seeds- Alabama, Arizona St. (NEW), Creighton (+1), Purdue (-2)

8 Seeds- Providence,  UCLA, Texas (+2), Arizona (-7)

9 Seeds- Arkansas (+2), Tennessee (NEW)Washington St. (NEW), Missouri

10 Seeds- Oklahoma, Texas-Arlington (+1), Northwestern, Rhode Island (+1)

11 Seeds- St. Mary’s (-6),  Northern Iowa (NEW), Florida St., SMU (-1), Oregon, Georgia (NEW)

12 Seeds- Florida Gulf Coast, Belmont (+1), Middle Tennessee (NEW), Vermont (+1), Temple, Maryland (-3)

13 Seeds- Ball St. (-1), Harvard, Charleston, Dayton (-1)

14 Seeds- Winthrop, New Mexico St., Oakland (-2), Bucknell

15 Seeds- Monmouth, Mt. St Mary’s, Murray St., Chattanooga

16 Seeds- UC Irvine, NC Central, New Orleans, Texas Southern, South Dakota, North Dakota

Week 2 Bracketology Update

Not a lot of huge upsets week 1, but a lot of movement in the middle. Northwestern hasn’t looked all that good despite being a favorite to make the tournament. This weeks Phil Knight invitational should give us a lot of good matchups.

1 Seeds-  Duke, Arizona, Kansas, Villanova (+1)

2 Seeds- Wichita St., Michigan St (+1), Florida, UNC

3 Seeds- Kentucky (-2), Notre Dame, Miami, USC (+1)

4 Seeds- Cincinnati, Gonzaga, Minnesota (+1), Xavier (+1)

5 Seeds- Louisville (-2), Purdue (+1), St. Mary’s, Texas A&M (+3)

6 Seeds- TCU, West Virginia (-2), Seton Hall (+1), Baylor (+1)

7 Seeds- Alabama, Virginia, Texas Tech (NEW), Nevada (+3)

8 Seeds- Providence, Creighton (+3), UCLA (-2), Maryland (+1)

9 Seeds- Wisconsin, Butler, UCF, Missouri (-1)

10 Seeds- Texas, Oklahoma, SMU, Northwestern (-5)

11 Seeds- Arkansas (NEW), Rhode Island (-5), Missouri St., Florida St., Texas-Arlington, Oregon (+1)

12 Seeds- Florida Gulf Coast (+1), Dayton, Ball St., Oakland, Temple (NEW), Michigan (NEW)

13 Seeds- Vermont, Harvard, Charleston, Belmont

14 Seeds- Winthrop, New Mexico St., UAB, Bucknell

15 Seeds- Monmouth, Mt. St Mary’s, Murray St., Chattanooga

16 Seeds- UC Irvine, NC Central, New Orleans, Texas Southern, South Dakota, North Dakota

Preseason Bracketology 2018

1 Seeds-  Duke, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky

2 Seeds- Wichita St., Villanova, Florida, UNC

3 Seeds- Michigan St., Notre Dame, Miami, Louisville

4 Seeds- USC, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Gonzaga,

5 Seeds- Minnesota, Northwestern, Xavier, St. Mary’s

6 Seeds- Rhode Island, TCU, Purdue, UCLA

7 Seeds- Baylor, Alabama, Seton Hall, Virginia

8 Seeds- Texas A&M, Providence, Missouri, Virginia Tech

9 Seeds- Wisconsin, Butler, Maryland, UCF

10 Seeds- Texas, Oklahoma, SMU, Nevada

11 Seeds- Creighton, Nevada, Missouri St., Florida St., Texas-Arlington

12 Seeds- Harvard, Oregon, Dayton, Ball St., Oakland

13 Seeds- Vermont, Florida Gulf Coast, Harvard, Charleston

14 Seeds- Winthrop, New Mexico St., UAB, Bucknell

15 Seeds- Monmouth, Mt. St Mary’s, Murray St., Chattanooga

16 Seeds- UC Irvine, NC Central, New Orleans, Texas Southern, South Dakota, North Dakota

 

USA Olympic Team 2014

Here are my thoughts on the way Team USA stacks up if they had to choose today and not January 1st. Keep in mind the team will have 25 on the roster and be able to have 23 active in Sochi.

Goalies

-Right now I have the front runner as Jimmy Howard. He has played exceptionally well for the Red Wings. He has a 2.62 GAA and a save percentage of .915. He has played in plenty of big games for Detroit so the big stage won’t be a problem. He is my number 1. My number 2 goalie would be Cory Schneider. He has taken the number one job from Brodeur, which says a lot in itself. He has played well for a below average defensive team in New Jersey. He has an outstanding GAA of 2.14 and a save % of .915. The biggest question will be if Schneider gets enough starts to have the US brass feel comfortable with him. My number 3 is Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick, which tells you how deep US goaltending is right now. He has bounced back after a shaky start and is posting a 2.52 GAA and save % of .907. This maybe where a lot of you disagree, but I have the best player on the 2010 US team staying home in Ryan Miller. He has a respectable .914 save % but a 3.13 GAA. He plays on one of the worst teams in the NHL, and I have to question whether he is even there by the time David Poile and company make their choices. Will he be sharp enough playing behind such an inferior team? I think his chances may go up if he is dealt to a contender. With Vanek being traded I would think Miller may not be far behind. Right now the number 5 man is Craig Anderson. Unfortunately for Anderson this is the best group of American goalies to ever be in the NHL. He would be a lock for team Canada; right now I just can’t see him cracking the top 3. If he plays well down the stretch he will make things even tougher. This is obviously the biggest strength of Team USA. You can’t go wrong with any of the 5, and whoever they choose will probably be better than whomever Team Canada has in goal.

 

Defenseman

 

-Ryan Suter is far and away the best defenseman for the US. He will average 25 minutes and will play in all situations. After Suter it is a long jam. There is a shortage of quality right handed shots for the US. I see youngster Justin Faulk playing on the right side with Suter. He is playing big minutes in Carolina and should be a lock for the team. My second pairing is Jack Johnson and Kevin Shattenkirk. Again staying with a lefty and a righty and Johnson may wear the C for the Americans. Shattenkirk should be even better on the bigger ice and Johnson has been great in international play. My last pairing would be Martin and Orpik. Bylsma sees these two every night and you wouldn’t have to worry about chemistry. McDonagh, Seth Jones and Yandle are battling it out for the last defenseman. Two months ago I would have said Jones would be a long shot to make the team but he has played 20 plus minutes every night and has turned plenty of heads in the team USA offices. This is going to be a tough call and there is plenty of time for guys to play their way into, or out of spots. Honorable mention; Jake Gardiner…He has played well in Toronto and is definitely still up for a spot. Byfuglien, I know a lot of people have him as a lock but I think he is just too slow for the international ice. Bogosian is a +4 in Winnipeg but not sure he can do enough to make the team. Being a right handed shot sure doesn’t hurt his chances. John Carlson is another righty, but has gotten off to a rough start. He needs to have a couple of strong months to earn his way back into the top 7. Erik Johnson and Nick Leddy have both gotten off to strong starts and haven’t been eliminated yet. Leddy doesn’t play enough minutes in Chicago to have a realistic shot but his speed on the bigger ice would be beneficial. I thought Johnson was on the decline but has played well under Patrick Roy in Colorado.

 

Forwards

 

-This is the part that is always the most fun to do. Come up with line combinations for some of the best players in the world. It is a little more fun north of the border but the US lines are nothing to laugh at. My first line is Parise-Stastny-Kane. This line has a nice mix. Parise’s grit and goal scoring ability with Stastny and Kane being excellent play makers. Kane has only gotten better since Vancouver, and was the third American in a row to win the Conn Smythe, take that Canada. Ok, so Crawford probably should have won it, but impressive for USA hockey none the less. My second line features one of the hottest players in the NHL right now, Phil Kessel. I have Kessel-Kesler-Bobby Ryan. Kesler was a borderline player to start the year but has been really good in Vancouver (8 goals in 14 games), more importantly he has stayed healthy. Bobby Ryan has been just as good in Ottawa as he was in Anaheim. You can say that this is the #1 line as of right now, I wouldn’t argue with you. The big question here is can Kessel keep up his torrid pace and can Kesler stay healthy. My third line is Van Riemsdyk-Backes-Pavelski. All three players are over a point a game pace to start the season. That is a nice extra when you are talking about your checking line. My fourth line is Callahan-Galchenyuk-Dustin Brown. Callahan will have to prove he is healthy when he comes back from injury. TJ Oshie would take Callahan’s spot if I had to choose today. Pacioretty was on my preseason team as well but injury concerns have him off the roster for now. Honorable Mention; Derek Stepan-I would have had him on my fourth line instead of Galchenyuk but he has been less than impressive after holding out of camp. He still has time but he needs to pick it up if he wants to make the flight to Russia. Brandon Saad has been good to start the season but there are only so many spots and I’m not sure he can make it without a big November/December. Justin Abdelkader will be in the Big House when the team is announced. Will he join Kessel and JVR on the ice when Team USA is announced? His speed would be more beneficial on the bigger ice but I’m not sure he has enough offense to make the team.

 

My 23 man roster

Goalies-Howard, Schneider, and Quick

Defenseman

Suter-Faulk

J. Johnson-Shattenkirk

Orpik-P. Martin

7th –S. Jones

 

Forwards

Parise-Stastny-Kane

Ryan-Kesler-Kessel

JVR-Backes-Pavelski

Callahan-Galchenyuk-D. Brown

Extra Forward- TJ Oshie

 

2 extras

Pacioretty/Yandle

 

Some of you may not agree but the fun is in the debate. We are less than 100 days from Sochi and the US brass has a lot of tough decisions to make.

 

Anthony Nelson