Steve Yzerman named the 2014 Canadian team yesterday that will be competing to defend their gold from Vancouver four years ago. The country that touts hockey as its country’s sport – and, let’s be honest, a country that regards the sport so highly that it’s all over TV even in August – it’s no wonder that Yzerman and Co. had a very difficult task ahead of them in choosing this team.
The joke is that even selecting an all-snub team for Canada would be a difficult task, and that their second team would likely be a favorite over some other countries. Needless to say, expectations are extremely high for this squad. You can see the full roster here.
Again, with a roster so deep, it’s likely that you’re going to find a few serious snubs. The most glaring omission on this roster is Martin St. Louis, an absolute stud who, at 38 years old, likely won’t see another Olympic opportunity (unless he pulls a Selanne, and even still the depth of skilled Canadian won’t go anywhere). Apparently a snub is motivation for St. Louis, who put up two goals last night in the 3rd period to give the Lightning a win over the Jets, and probably had Yzerman shaking his head.
Analyzing the metrics of this roster, it’s pretty clear that the management team wanted to put together a big, skilled team. The smallest defensemen are Duncan Keith, PK Subban and Alex Pietrangelo, all of whom I would adore the Rangers to acquire. Pietrangelo is a 23-year-old offensive defenseman who already has the words Norris Trophy tattooed to his forehead. It’s only a matter of time, and hopeful lack of injuries. It’s also clear that Chris Kunitz is benefiting from playing with Sidney Crosby, and that Yzerman didn’t want to mess with the chemistry of a player who’s already racked up 63 points this season.
There was some controversy – specifically among Habs fans – that Subban wouldn’t make the Olympic roster, but that was never actually an issue. It appears that Yzerman and staff made their decisions based on the players’ performance over the past four years, as well as any prior Olympic experience. The outrage over Nash being selected makes sense as far as a “what have you done for me lately” mindset works, but you’re looking at an outrageously skilled player who was effective in 2010 Vancouver. The bottom line is that if you’re outraged that Bobby Ryan missed Team USA, you can’t really be outraged that Rich Nash made Team Canada. That’s not to say that you can’t wish that someone else was selected over Nash, but the philosophy of why both he and Ryan would be selected is the same: it isn’t what you’ve done for me lately, it’s what you’re capable of on a huge stage.
Some names I’m excited to see up there are Marc-Edouard Vlasic, the 26-year-old defenseman from the Sharks who has really impressed lately, and of course Steven Stamkos, provided he is able to solidify his Superman status and return from a hideous injury in Karlsson-esque fashion just in time for a huge event. I’m also curious to see if Crosby gets the ‘C’ like everyone expects (I still have nightmares of the GWG..) or if Toews is able to sneak up and steal it from his sweater. I would love to see Toews take the ‘C’, but then again I am more partial to the Hawks than the Pens.
The coaching staff is also impressive; Mike Babcock gets the head coach nod, with Claude Julien, Lindy Ruff and Ken Hitchcock assisting. It’s pretty clear that the entire team was well thought out and executed. I would’ve loved to see Logan Couture up there, but given the depth of the team, I don’t consider his exclusion to be a snub. On that note, the theory – which has become a full-fledged blatant fact – that the West far outplays the East is solidified with both the Blues and Hawks each sending 10 players to the Olympics. Stick-tap to them for such an accomplishment.
Do you believe that Team Canada is the clear favorite, do you have another team you see standing in the way of USA gold, or will the USA breeze on through to Olympic championship?