This time one year ago, Brian Gionta was captain of the Buffalo Sabres. This month, he is in PyeongChang captaining the U.S. Olympic Team. The situation can work out well for Gionta. He gets to put on the red, white and blue for his country one final time on an international stage and then he has the chance to join an NHL team for a playoff run.

USA Hockey head coach Tony Granato knows that, but he thinks Gionta's head is in full Olympics mode right now.

"I'm sure he could've played in the NHL this year," Granato said at the NHL Winter Classic, one month out from this year's Olympics. "There's no doubt in my mind. He probably had opportunities to go to teams and decided the Olympic thing was what he wanted to do and we're lucky he felt that way.

"This isn't a setup to see if he can go play in the playoffs or go play in the NHL after. He's doing his best to help us win." 

Team USA lost its Olympic opener in overtime, 3-2, to Slovenia on Wendesday.

-- Follow Jeff Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband. Like Jeff Eisenband on Facebook.

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