From: Corey Krakower
Sent: Thursday, November 5, 2009
To: Steve Yzerman
CC: Mike Babcock
Subject: Team Canada
I am by no means an expert in the field of player evaluation. In fact, my hockey expertise is limited to coaching minor hockey and running a AAA organization in the spring. I am simply an avid hockey fan, with a special interest in Team Canada and the Olympics.
When I was in Montreal’s airport in December of 2005, I remember listening to the radio and being very disappointed when I realized that Sidney Crosby (among others) was left off of Team Canada’s Olympic roster. A young, promising superstar wasn’t given a spot, yet aging veterans with minimal value like Kris Draper and Todd Bertuzzi were included on the team. Hockey Canada’s Executive Director at the time chose age and experience over youth, energy and skill and consequently Team Canada didn’t even earn a medal. I won’t name names, but let’s just say your predecessor wasn’t a “great one”. The Olympics is a short tournament, meaning there is no such thing as having too much skill. Having more than 2 scoring lines gives a coach the flexibility to not panic if perhaps the supposed number 1 line is having an off game or two. My opinion is that taking a “specialist” over a significantly more skilled player who can not only fill the same role but add s scoring dimension to it as well, would be a waste. The reason a guy like Kris Draper is a terrific checking center is because he is not good enough to be a 1st line center and has to settle for a lesser role. If Sidney Crosby wanted to be the best checking center in the world, I promise you that he could be the best checking center in the world.
Fast forward to today; where you are just under 2 months away from picking your team. I am writing you this mock-email to campaign for the selection committee to avoid another “Sidney Crosby” situation from December-2005. I have been watching quite a bit of NHL hockey this year thanks to the NHL package on DirecTV and a certain player has caught my eye who might just be one of the top forwards in Canada. His name is Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Stamkos has been, without question, the Lightning’s best player this year. Not only are his stats impressive (11 goals in 13 games); but he is a solid two way player, he’s got great speed, he’s dynamite on the powerplay, he’s got a ridiculous release on his shot, he’s strong on his skates and can use all of these assets at high speed (perfect for the larger Olympic ice surface). Stamkos’ qualities aren’t limited to his raw skill; his work ethic is outstanding, his hockey IQ/vision is off the charts and he can be effective in all situations. He would bring versatility and energy to Team Canada; and he can push the veterans to do better – elements that were missing in 2006. Steven Stamkos is rapidly becoming a superstar in this league and it would be a shame if he is left off, much like Crosby was the last time around.
I wish you the best of luck in Vancouver.
About the Author
Written by Corey Krakower
I am the Director of NHL Content & Habs writer for ProSportsBlogging.com; I have spent 8 seasons behind the bench as a minor hockey coach; and I am the future GM of the Montreal Canadiens (according to my mom). I spend my days managing the Harrow Sports brand in my hometown of Montreal and I moonlight as a Hockey Advisor for Pi Athlete Management. Most importantly, I'll throw anyone under the bus for a laugh.