The hockey team that will be expected to win gold at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver will be named on December 30, approximately three weeks from today. That team, of course, is Team Canada. After a dismal showing in 2006, Steve Yzerman is now the man entrusted by Hockey Canada to piece together a winner on home soil. Yzerman has already let it be known that he will be looking for “all around players” that can contribute in all situations, and he will do his best to avoid moving players out of position. To my recollection, I believe Mario Lemieux did just fine in the Canada Cup playing on the wing with Wayne Gretzky as his center, but what do I know!
Here’s a look at who will likely be representing Canada on the ice in Vancouver. This is based on a combination of my opinion, performance this year, and what I think they are looking for. I welcome mockery and/or ridicule.
Martin Brodeur (Starter)
Roberto Luongo (Backup)
Marc-Andre Fleury (In case Brodeur and Luongo get hit with swine flu)
Brodeur has been the best Canadian goalie this year; Luongo has been pretty good and won’t be left off especially considering the Olympics are in Vancouver; and you can’t ignore what Fleury has accomplished over the last 2 years. I expect Brodeur will play game 1, Luongo will play game 2, and after that, who knows.
Sorry to: Cam Ward (injury), Steve Mason (sophomore jinx), Carey Price (inconsistency), Marty Turco (I just don’t like you, sorry)
Scott Niedermayer – Chris Pronger
Jay Bouwmeester – Shea Weber
Duncan Keith – Brent Seabrook
I thought this position would be a lot tougher to project than it actually was. The pairing of Niedermayer-Pronger will lead this group and will be counted on to play big minutes against the top lines of other teams. Niedermayer will likely be the captain as well. Jay Bouwmeester and Shea Weber is a scary pairing. They are both big bodies that will excel defensively on the smaller ice surface, and both are well above average offensively as well. The third pairing of Keith-Seabrook is a very reliable tandem, arguably the best in the NHL this year. They compliment each other very well and there’s no reason to think that their effectiveness will not translate into success in Vancouver.
Who will be the #7 blueliner;
Dan Boyle – for his skating and puck moving ability?
Mike Green – average defensively, but the best on the PP?
Dion Phaneuf – a bit unpredictable, but the hardest hitter in the game?
Rick Nash – Sidney Crosby – Jarome Iginla
Dany Heatley – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Patrick Marleau – Steven Stamkos – Martin St. Louis
Brendan Morrow – Mike Richards – Shane Doan
Remember – Yzerman will try to avoid moving players out of their natural position, which is why it appears that I left off some better players. My goal is to show you what Team Canada will probably look like, so I built my projected roster around Yzerman’s assertion, whether I agree with it or not. The first line of Nash-Crosby-Iginla should be dynamite. Crosby is the best passer in the game, Jarome Iginla is a workhorse on the right side, and Rick Nash is one of the premier finishers. The second line combines the familiarity of Getzlaf and Perry, who despite playing on a bad team, have done very well this year. Add a scorer like Dany Heatley and you have a great #2 scoring line. An Olympic tournament is short, and Canada proved last time around that there is no such thing as having too much scoring. This is why my third line of Marleau-Stamkos-St. Louis is another scoring line. Patrick Marleau’s performance as the top scoring Canadian (19 goals) this year is hard to ignore. I know many people don’t like his game, but he has earned a spot. Steven Stamkos has outperformed guys like Lecavalier, Thornton and Toews and in my opinion, he has passed them on Canada’s depth chart. He’s a great player who will also see time on the left wing on the second PP unit. Marty St. Louis has been great with Stamkos this year. He is a skater, a worker and a leader; and for that he deserves a spot on this team. My fourth line is the perfect shutdown line because they can also contribute offensively. This is not like that Bertuzzi-Draper-Maltby line in 2006. Morrow, Richards and Doan are all in your face guys who have the speed and tenacity to go head to head against the #1 line of the other countries. Expect those 3 to get plenty of PK minutes as well.
In consideration for the #13 forward spot (ideally a player who can step in at any position up front) – Jeff Carter, Jonathan Toews, Eric Staal.
I look forward to December 30, when Steve Yzerman announces what is sure to be one of the best hockey teams ever assembled. Until then, he and his staff have their work cut out for them to get down to the roster of 13-7-3. I can speculate all I want, but would I really want to be in his shoes, knowing that the hopes and dreams of close to 30 million people are riding on his selections? I don’t think so!
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.