As many of us hockey obsessed people witnessed on Tuesday morning, Hockey Canada finally selected its roster for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Although the management team, led by Steve Yzerman, did their very best to make us lose interest with a series of speeches from people we have never heard of, most of Canada still eagerly tuned in to see if their favourite players were going to be selected. While about 75% of the picks were predictable, Team Canada still managed to shock us with a couple of picks that were not anticipated. Now that the team has been announced and the smoke has cleared, we can begin second guessing from now until well after the Olympics have ended just like we did in 2010 (Stamkos should have been on that team damn it! Canada would have won…uhh…MORE GOLD!). I won’t waste time talking about the obvious choices like Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews because we always knew they were going to be there. I’m going to focus on those who were snubbed and those who are question marks.
Martin St Louis
Honestly, I do not understand the logic in not selecting Martin St. Louis. What more can he do to prove he belongs in the Olympics? He is 38 years old yet doesn’t seem to miss a beat, even going so far as winning the Art Ross Trophy as the leading scorer last season. St. Louis had everything going for him, including Steve Yzerman who is his General Manager in Tampa Bay and sees his contributions (statistical and leadership) on a nightly basis. It’s not like St. Louis is having an off year either so you can’t use that as a strike against him. When players like Rick Nash make the team based on past international reputation (more on that later), St. Louis’s exclusion is going to be questioned.
Again, I don’t understand this one. Claude Giroux was a lock in the summer but had a rough start to the year because he was injured in a freak golf accident (It happens…). Since November, the kid from Hearst, Ontario has been dynamite, and has been a gigantic part of the Philadelphia’s resurgence into contention in the Eastern Conference. Apparently this wasn’t good enough for Team Canada though as a slow start to the season was enough to kick Giroux off the team.
Haha just kidding. He’s not that good.
Had Staal been having a half decent season, he would have been a lock. He hasn’t though and it cost him the opportunity to represent his country. You know who also hasn’t had a good year? Rick Nash!
I’m not a big fan of Couture but in my opinion, he deserves a spot on this team. Unfortunately, Couture suffered a hand injury that will require surgery and keep him out of the line up for 3-4 weeks. Apparently though, this wasn’t a factor in his exclusion from the Olympic team (sure…). If you are choosing a team and you had the choice between Couture and Nash, who would you pick? That’s what I thought.
A Few Less Surprising Snubs
Is the NHL assists leader but foot speed would be an issue on the big ice. Not a surprising snub.
Having a excellent year in Dallas, but still young and Matt Duchene deserved the spot more than him.
It’s really a shame he didn’t make the team but apparently his right-handed shot was working against him. Even though his loss was Dan Hamhuis’ gain, I’m not sure I agree with it.
The Question Marks
This one is pretty obvious as Kunitz has been a debate for well over a year now. Did Kunitz earn his spot based on his own merit? Or was he selected because of his chemistry with Sidney Crosby? Team Canada brass will tell you that he made it because he is versatile and doesn’t need Crosby to succeed. I don’t buy it. Getting Crosby at his best is imperative for Canada in Sochi and Kunitz could (and I stress could) help that. However, because you have chemistry on one stage doesn’t guarantee success on another. I think this was a case of management trying too hard to select a team they think will play well together instead of selected the best possible players.
In 2010, Jeff Carter was on the cusp of making Team Canada but had to settle for being a potential replacement if an injury occurred. In the four years since the Vancouver/Whistler Olympics, has Jeff Carter improved? Statistically, he has regressed but has been to two Stanley Cup finals (2010 and 2012) and won the big prize in 2012. I don’t doubt for a second that Jeff Carter can be a difference maker. Believe me, I cheer for Vancouver and have just recently witnessed this. But again, this all comes back to the question of was he the best player available? I don’t think he was at all when Giroux is still on the board.
Talk about an awkward conversation for the San Jose Sharks. San Jose had four legitimate contenders for Team Canada (Dan Boyle, Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau, and Joe Thornton) but only Marleau made it. You can easily make the assumption that Marleau is on the team because he is a fantastic skater and on the big ice that will count for a lot. Unfortunately, that whole notion that he is not a big game player will follow him to Russia. However, he was there in 2010 and that seemed to work out just fine.
Probably made the team based on the way he holds his stick (left). It has always been Mike Babcock’s preference to bring 4-4 (right and left shooting defence men) to Sochi and it looks like he got his wish. Hamhuis is as steady as they come and a loyal Team Canada soldier. But did he deserve a spot over Brent Seabrook who just happens to shoot right? I don’t really think so. Still, I’m happy for Dan Hamhuis and will really enjoy watching him play in the Olympics (if he does dress at all).
Here is the selection that I disagree with the most (by far). Rick Nash has seemingly made this team because of his dominance in previous international tournaments but that argument breaks down pretty quickly as he hasn’t been in an international tournament since the 2011 World Championships (Team Canada placed 5th in that tournament). Yes, he was fantastic in 2010, but over the past 18 months he has been a shadow of himself in the NHL and in that time, hasn’t proven to anyone that he can recapture his 2010 form because he hasn’t played in an International Tournament other than the Spengler Cup during the 2012 lockout. So my question is, why does a player like Rick Nash make the team based on his potential while players like Martin St. Louis don’t despite doing everything in their power to make this team? I sincerely hope Rick Nash does well in Sochi because this selection is going to bug me for a long time.
At the end of the day, Hockey Canada did what they thought was best and selected the players that they felt were best suited to play in the Olympics. While we may not agree with some of the selections, many of us don’t have Stanley Cup rings or Olympic Gold Medals either. At this point, all we can do is trust Steve Yzerman and his management team. Have they really given us reason not to at this point?