Before abruptly passing away about three weeks before the first puck drop at the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games, Team USA general manager Jim Johansson made 25 phone calls. Those phone calls were to a mix of players. He called a few college players. He called a few minor leaguers. He called some European professionals. He even called a retiree. Five of those phone calls went to New York/New Jersey natives. Each of those calls was to inform the player that he will be playing for the United States. With players in various stages of their careers, it was a welcomed call for many different reasons.
From there, captain Brian Gionta (Rochester, N.Y.) began establishing communications of his own. The eldest statesman of the team, Gionta immediately was seen as the primary leadership icon (and would be named captain). Though he might have been charged with trying to spur the building of chemistry, Gionta noted that the team was "a much tighter group than what would be perceived on the outside." Part of that stemmed from a November tournament in Europe that allowed many of the players to gain some familiarity. "That’s where the Deutschland Cup was great," Gionta acknowledged, "to get all that out of the way and get comfortable and familiar with each other."