Blog Entry

Now comes the hard part

Posted on: December 30, 2009 6:42 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2009 6:45 pm
If you thought figuring out who should make up the 23-man Team Canada roster for the Vancouver Olympics was a major challenge, remember that anything other a gold medal in February will be considered a failure of epic proportions for the boys back home.

That’s always been the real pressure facing a team that was going to have everything in place to win on home soil, and it just got a little greater. Canada would have gone into the Winter Games as a decided favorite regardless of who its brain trust decided to pencil in, but that becomes irrelevant in a all-star caliber tournament that features a one-off elimination round when running into a hot goalie like American Ryan Miller, Swede Henrik Lundqvist or Finn Miikka Kiprusoff could spell disaster.

Little wonder the 30 million or so general managers north of the border who have agonized for months about what constitutes an ideal lineup will spend the next six weeks debating whether Team Canada Steve Yzerman has actually created one. And the irony is that most of the discussion will focus on the players who were on the bubble to make the team.

Players like Mike Richards, Brenden Morrow, Eric Staal, Jonathan Toews and Patrice Bergeron who took up the final five forward spots on the roster. All have solid street cred, but based on the first half of this season, any of them could have been replaced by one of at least another half dozen Canadian players.

Some still might. Given how many key players have been sidelined, it is reasonable to assume the 23-man roster unveiled Wednesday may look different before they are actually submitted to the IIHF 24 hours before the tournament begins.

As it stands now though, Team Canada looks like it has a versatile blend of speed, size, skill and grit both up front and in the back end. Canada will have two high-end scoring lines at the top with Sidney Crosby likely to be in between Rick Nash and Jarome Iginla and the San Jose trio of Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau that has been almost unstoppable this season. All were givens to make this team, along with Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

But there were some very tough decisions for Yzerman were along the blue line, which was Canada’s biggest problem in 2006 when it lost in the quarter finals at Turin. Yzerman bypassed NHL’s top scoring defenseman Mike Green as well as Calgary’s trio of Jay Bouwmeester, Dion Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr, all of whom were at the orientation camp, in favor of a group led by veterans Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger.

The two former Norris Trophy winners were sure bets for this team, and they will lead a group that has the two-way skills of Dan Boyle, Shea Weber, Chicago dynamic duo of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook and super sophomore Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings. And Canada’s goaltending won’t be too shabby either with Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo and Marc-Andre Fleury there.

It looks really good on paper. The real challenge though for coach Mike Babcock and his staff is making it look as good on the ice.
Category: NHL

Since: Apr 7, 2009
Posted on: January 1, 2010 9:45 pm

Now comes the hard part

i dont see how anyone could argue against team canada and their potential for line chemistry problems when the line most likely to score the majority of their goals all play for san jose. I mean practicing and playing games with the same 3 guys for 42 games so far would most definately build a decent amount of chemistry. If anything i'd say that canada has a big advantage as far as team chemistry goes for the upcomming winter olympics.

Since: Sep 28, 2006
Posted on: January 1, 2010 2:59 am

Now comes the hard part

This will be another great tournament.  At least 6 teams have shots at a medal with 2 or 3 pretty much neck and neck for gold.

Canada did what the other countries didn't as much and in most cases couldn't: pick and choose to make a team to win gold, not an all-star roster.   As was stated previous, Canada has more depth to choose from and therefore more players to make hard decisions over.  They should be favored for the gold, but have to come together as a team quick or they could have any other top team in the tournament.  The big plus for them is the depth, quality and experience in net.  Brouder who does just about everything, Fleury who is one of the top big game goalies right now.   Oh and that Loungo guy too.  That is why they should win the gold.

And snate....actually watch before you just regurgatate the same old pap you read from other people who don't watch Crosby or much hockey.  I mean, you can not like or hate Crosby all you want, but when you start saying he's over-rated and all it's just shows the hate, not any hockey smarts.

Since: Jun 8, 2007
Posted on: December 31, 2009 11:02 pm

Now comes the hard part

Of course Canada questions the selection. When you have the depth that canada has, you have to expect that. When the NHL's leading defensive scorer is left off the team, eyebrows are going to be raised, when there is a 39 goal scorer (Mike Cammalleri) left off the team in favour of Patrice Bergeron, people are going to wonder. The expectations couldn't be higher for Stevie Y. Anything less than gold is unacceptable, it's no different than the USA and the "Dream Team" when there is a collection of the best professional athletes at there respected sport, the HAVE to win. So good luck to you team Canada, the same team that took Brent Seabrook over Jay Bouwmeester. The weight of the world is on your back....I wouldnt want to be on this team

Since: Jun 1, 2007
Posted on: December 31, 2009 5:54 pm

Now comes the hard part

There is a big difference between USA hockey and canadian hockey.  I call it the 99% factor.  99% of Americans could care less about hockey or how the team does in the olympics.  Gold, silver, bronze, no medal, who cares.  In canada, 99% of canadians care about hockey, and anything less than gold is a complete waste.  There will be blame and more blame as to why they didn't win.  Knowing that while you are wearing the big red leaf on your jersey means that if you don't win gold you will be considered a failure is a lot more pressure than any other country will ever face.  So chemisty is always the biggest concern with team canada.  The players know they have to bring home the gold or face the wrath of failure.  Anyone else can have a good olympics with silver, bronze, or even having a couple of wins in the tournament.  Seeing how the red leafs handle the pressure of the games is why finding the right chemistry is the most important problem they face every time.  In theory canada could suit up two teams and win both gold and silver.  Especially now since the olympics gave canada nhl size rinks instead of the usual olympic size rinks.  At home, with nhl refs, and nhl size rinks, if they don't win gold, I wonder how many players will make a permanent move to live in the US city that they play in.

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: December 31, 2009 5:35 pm

Now comes the hard part

Yeah Sid has always had the greatest wingers of all time.  I mean Ziggy Palfy, Mark Recchi, Michel Ouellet, Andre Roy, Pascal Dupuis...those guys epitomize hall of fame careers.  Please.  Yeah he played with Hossa for a dozen or so games (and then the playoffs), and has had an aged Billy Guerin on his wing (if you say Chris Kunitz is an "elite" player you are nuts).  The kid makes his wingers better, not the other way around.  Saying otherwise is being a homer and a hater.

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: December 31, 2009 5:35 pm

Now comes the hard part

Yeah Sid has always had the greatest wingers of all time.  I mean Ziggy Palfy, Mark Recchi, Michel Ouellet, Andre Roy, Pascal Dupuis...those guys epitomize hall of fame careers.  Please.  Yeah he played with Hossa for a dozen or so games (and then the playoffs), and has had an aged Billy Guerin on his wing (if you say Chris Kunitz is an "elite" player you are nuts).  The kid makes his wingers better, not the other way around.  Saying otherwise is being a homer and a hater.

Since: Nov 21, 2008
Posted on: December 31, 2009 4:36 pm

Now comes the hard part


I disagree with the Niedermeyer being over the hill, yes he is not what he used to be but I dont think he is quite over the hill, yet. (Althouh realistically this could be his last fully competent season).  Anyways, I think your completley backwards on the "he can't defend of cover ground".  He is one of the smoothest and fluent skates in the NHL today still and does the job he is told to do like none other.  The only 2 things I would switch on the roster at this point would be Doughty for Green or the Calgary trio.   Given that DD is a great D-Man but I feel he hasn't proven himeslf nearly enough to be picked over Green, Phaneuf, Bouwmeester or Regehr.  Also I dont understand why Duncan Keith is on there.

Since: Nov 26, 2008
Posted on: December 31, 2009 12:04 pm

Now comes the hard part

I Know this isn't traditional hockey smack talk, but look at  that picture of sydney.

He is the biggest baby I've ever been forced to watch in the NHL, and now the diaper changing will be done by the Canadians for at least a couple weeks.

Yes the point is he is overated and overhyped, I've never seen a player hyped as much as this untaleted center surounded by much better players. 

I mean come on.  Ovechkin.

You know that crosby cup finals performance was very average.

Since: Jan 15, 2008
Posted on: December 31, 2009 8:24 am

Now comes the hard part

I really only have 2 problems with the Canadian selections: 1. Niedermayer is over the hill at this point, he's the equivalent of Chris Chelios for the USA a few Olympics' ago: a great guy to have in the locker room, but often a liability on the ice.  International rules and the bigger rink will have people looking at Niedermayer's inability to defend or cover ground and asking, "can we have Phaneuf or Green?"  I mean, seriously, you can never have too much scoring...and Mike Green.  'Nuff said.
2. Eric Staal has been terrible this year for my beloved Hurricanes, so he should NOT be on this team!  I have no idea what Yzerman thought to make that selection.  Staal isn't even the top center on his own team right now -- Paul Maurice has him over at RW because (and these are Staal's own words), "it's less responsible defensively" and "there's less thinking there."  Sure, Staal was put on Team Canada to play a wing anyway, but he's a poor defensive forward these days and a complete "blah" when it comes to leadership.  Martin St. Louis would have been a great choice instead of Staal, and as a Canes fan it's hard for me to admit that.  Plus, I agree with the announcers of the Caps/Canes game the other day that Staal likely has at least 2 nagging injuries that have followed him all season, so what's the point of having them dog him during the Olympics, too? 

Just my two cents.  Overall, clearly TC is the one to beat, but isn't that always the truth?

Since: Feb 12, 2008
Posted on: December 30, 2009 10:54 pm

Could that picture of Crosby be any dorkier?

Nice picture of Crosby...he looks like the cover boy for the Special Olympics.

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