Canada’s 2014 Men’s Olympic Roster

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

Graydon Crowley

Canadian Hockey Enterprises

Canada-USA Womens Hockey Brawl

It’s not something you see everyday, but we may see it again soon.

As the perennial top 2 teams in Womens Hockey, Team Canada and Team USA opened their 6 game Olympic tune up series in Burlington Vermont on October 12th.  As with all previous Olympics, the two teams are the overwhelming favourites to battle for the gold medal in Sochi this February.  That said, between the two, there’s not a lot of disparity and their match-ups are often intense and physical, but I don’t  think anyone saw this coming.  Canada held a 3-2 lead with just over 3 minutes left in the third period when USA’s Monique Lamoureux drove hard to the net, taking out Canada’s Sharon Szabados in the process, leading to an all out line brawl.

Canada ended up holding the USA off and winning the game 3 – 2.  The two teams will square ff again tomorrow night in Boisibriand, QC and 4 more times before the new year so expect to see some more fireworks between these well matched squads as they tune up for the Olympics.  Click here for a list of game dates and locations.

Graydon Crowley

Canadian Hockey Enterprises

Top 5 Mondays!

Introducing a new feature to the CHE Blog, each Monday I’ll post a Top 5 _____ to get the week started off right.  To celebrate the first full NHL season in a couple of years, we’ll start with:

Top 5 Exciting NHL Events in 2013/14!

Image

1. Sochi 2014

I know, it’s not exactly an NHL sanctioned event but there will be plenty of NHLer’s in attendance and it’s going to be amazing yet again.  One simply has to turn on TSN to watch Bob Mackenzie and James Duthie argue over which of the amazing centermen is going to snag that 14th forward position and you’ll quickly realize it’s the top hockey event on this years calendar.  There’s just so many story lines:  Will the big ice be a factor?  Can Canada defend on foreign soil or will is be Torino (7th place finish) all over again?  Will Russia be able finally be able to win it’s first Gold medal in the post Soviet era after literally dominating the event from 1954-1990 (19 Golds, 7 Silvers) and their recent successes at both the World Jr and World Championships?   Will a team comprised of mostly KHL players (only 26 rostered Russians in NHL this year) be able to compete against the NHL’s best?  Or will the Swedes, Fins or Americans be the eventual winners?  It’s a tough call, but one thing that’s for sure is that the hockey is going to be amazing, like a bunch of All-Star games but players, coaches and fans actually care, watch and cheer.

Image

2. Winter Classic!

After being cancelled last season due to the lockout, the New Year’s Day game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium at the University of Michigan.  Finally we’ll be able to watch the best team in the league (Detroit) play the team all of my friends and family painstakingly cheer for year after year, and so will the 110,000 lucky fans in the stands.  Hoping to build off of last years success, the Maple Leafs are looking to show they really were just one, jaw dropping implosion away from making it to the finals.  Having both teams compete regularly in the same divisions will definitely heat up the intensity and it’s looking like it will be the best Winter Classic yet.

There’s also the new Stadium Series at the end of January to look forward to but certainly not with the same hype. There will be the Kings vs. Ducks at Dodger Stadium (good luck with the ice), Rangers vs. Devils followed by Rangers vs. Islanders at Yankee Stadium, and Penguins vs. Blackhawks at Soldier Field.

Image

3. Red Wings in the Eastern Conference

If you paid any attention to point number 2 you’ll know the Detroit Red Wings are definitely my favorite hockey team in the league, and have been ever since the imperial reign of Ken Holland began in 1997.  That said, I’m definitely not alone in my excitement to watch the mighty Wings battle it out against Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Boston on a regular basis is going to be completely different than hopefully catching them battle the Anaheim Ducks at 11pm EST.  There’s going to be four original 6 teams in the same conference and even the perennial underachieving Maple Leafs seem to be getting their act together and I’m extremely amped to finally watch Detroit on Hockey Night in Canada.  I mean common, look how much love Grapes shows them in the playoffs!

Image

4. John Tortorella in Vancouver

In a move that almost no one saw coming, the Vancouver Canucks kicked off their off season acquisitions by bringing John Tortorella in to motivate the team of fledgling super stars.  Tort’s is a bit of a mystery to me.  He seemed to be able to get the most out of his star players in Tampa in 2004 when they won the cup, but all reports out of NYC were that the Rangers best players just wouldn’t perform for him.  When you’ve got Brad Richards in the press box as a healthy scratch in an elimination game in the playoffs you know that something is not right.  He earned $12 million last season and sat out the last game.  Obviously things didn’t work out in NYC and Tortorella was let go pretty swiftly, but having him land in Vancouver was on no one’s radar.  The Canucks and especially the Sedin brothers have often been labelled as soft, adversity avoiding superstars.  It’s going to be very interesting to see how they respond to Tortorella’s coaching and communication style, it literally could go 100% one way or the other.

Image

5. Can Sidney Crosby play an Entire Season?

Believe it or not, it’s been 4 years since Sid the Kid played an entire NHL season, and the last time he did, he won the Rocket Richard Trophy, Stanley Cup and Olympic Gold.  Building off his success in 2010, Crosby started the next season playing and scoring at an era defying pace that included a 25 game point streak scoring 50 points during that time.  Then BOOM! (literally)  The leagues best player went down with a concussion and almost single handedly opened the hockey worlds eyes to the dangers of concussions.  All reports coming from the Crosby camp say he’s 100% healthy and stronger than he’s ever been, and though it’s unlikely he can match his heroics from the Vancouver Olympics, it’s the first time since 2010 that there aren’t any health questions coming into the season.

There are many other things to get excited about this hockey season, but I think this top 5 is proof enough that it’s going to be a season to remember.

Graydon Crowley

Canadian Hockey Enterprises