The US quickly announced their team shortly after the Winter Classic, Sweden, Finland and Russia quietly released their line-ups on the internet as the week went on, and then there’s Canada.
As of yesterday, the Team Canada roster was to be announced by 10:30 am. By 10:30 am this morning, the roster was going to be announced at 11:00 am. At 11:00 am, Steve Yzerman finally took the stage. Team Canada did an amazing job of dragging out the announcement of the team, culminated by Mr. Yzerman’s extremely long winded introduction. But finally, after 4 long years of anticipation, countless rosters and bubble men presented by the various sports news outlets, and plenty of office bets, the Team Canada roster was officially released in full by 11:42 am.
With the depth of hockey talent available, there were many spots that were locked up well before the announcement, specifically in the goal tending department where all 3 selected (Price, Luongo, Smith) were expected to make the team. There’s really only 2 players on the roster that caught me off guard; Dan Hamhuis and Steve Stamkos. Hamhuis’s selection surprised me for no other reason than I had no idea he was even on the radar. There are so many strong Canadian defensemen that I honestly didn’t think Hammer was even in contention, but as a big, strong defensive minded player, I think he’s a great pick and really rounds out the Canadian D as there’s plenty of fire power with Subban, Doughty and Weber.
Most people had Stamkos on their line-up even though he suffered a broken leg less than 2 months ago and has barely skated since. I think that most people assume that he’ll be back to full form by the time the games get going in February, but the likelihood of him going from a walking cast to competing at the level the entire country is expecting is a bit of a stretch. My reasoning is not whether Stamkos has the necessary speed and skill to be on the Olympic team, he obviously has it in spades. My concern is whether or not it’s worth assuming he’s going to be a full capacity in a month while leaving so many talented players to watch on TV.
Speaking of players who didn’t make it, how about Stamkos’s teammate and 2010’s outside-looking-in man Martin St. Louis. Everyone has had St. Louis on the bubble for the entire season as there’s a plethora of reasons why he should or shouldn’t make the team. Pros: explosive speed and creativity with the puck which work perfectly on the Olympic ice, natural leader, has been top 10 in scoring in the NHL each year since 2010, has carried Tampa Bay since the departure of Stamkos (proving he doesn’t rely entirely on Stamkos), and plays for Yzerman! Cons: he’d be the oldest player on the team (last 2 Canadian Olympic Golds have featured many players in their late 30’s/early 40’s), he’s not very big, doesn’t have the Team Canada traditional resume. Right now he’s sitting 24th in the NHL in points and the only players ahead of him in points that aren’t headed to Sochi are Canadians Joe Thornton, Taylor Hall and Tyler Sequin. Call me crazy, but on a team loaded with play making centermen, why they took Duchene or Benn (both behind him in points and Centermen) made it over Marty (a natural winger) is beyond me.
The image above displays what might be considered Team Canada B, and although they probably wouldn’t do very well at this year’s Olympics, we’d be tickled pink if we could send this team to the World Championships at the end of the season. So while I complain ademently about St. Louis being left off the roster again, our country is so deep in exceptional hockey talent that ultimately there’s no way to pick a team without leaving a few superstars and well deserving players at home.
Overall it looks like Team Canada will be a strong contender to bring home the Olympic Gold in men’s hockey, and though they’ll have to compete against some pretty heavily star laden teams like Sweden, Russia and Team USA, I know I’m not alone in my excitement to watch a full tournament of all star teams compete for their country.
Canadian Hockey Enterprises