Team Canada will rely largely on youthful vigor for the 2010 World Hockey Championships in Germany.
But while general manager Mark Messier may not have assembled the best team available, he did, in fact, assemble the RIGHT team.
While the European elite leagues’ finish their respective seasons just in time for the world championships, the NHL’s playoffs are just getting started.
Come April, our best players, at least a significant number of them, are either vying for a Stanley Cup, spending much valued time with their familes, or sipping wheat-based beverages on a beach in South America.
Messier’s choice to go with youth, mixed with a few veteran leaders, will pay dividends well beyond any success at this year’s tournament.
From Team Canada’s perspective, the choice to go with a younger roster creates a deeper pool of players with international experience once the Olympics roll around (or perhaps the World Cup, if the NHL pulls the plug on Sochi).
It’s particularly great for players like John Tavares, Matt Duchene, and Evander Kane- still teenagers- to get some international experience at the senior level.
Furthermore, several other emerging players, like Mark Giordano and Rich Peverley, are playing for Team Canada for the first time, either at the senior or junior level.It’s equally important that these players get some international experience. It’s not inconceivable that some of these individuals will get consideration for Team Canada on a larger stage in years to come. For such players, the world championships are the ideal stepping stone.
That’s not to say that this team can’t win NOW.
Veterans like Ryan Smyth, Ray Whitney, and Corey Perry add not only the leadership these young players need, but the scoring and grit needed to make Canada competitive in the medal round.
Still, with the absence of available stars like Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St.Louis, and Mike Green(hmmmm…), Canada’s young guns will be expected to fill big shoes.
Steven Stamkos,for example, may already be considered a legitimate leader in his own right.
A returning silver-medallist, and defending Maurice Richard Trophy co-winner, Stamkos will play a role of increased importance this time around.
As for the man that’s expected to bring everything together, head coach Craig MacTavish is just what the hockey doctor ordered.
MacTavish, known as a fine communicator,strategist ,and mentor of inexperienced players, will need this team to buy into his system very quickly. Canada’s coach has stated that he will tinker with his lineup during the tournament.If MacTavish can achieve the right chemistry,as he’s proven he can do in the past,then this team may well be greater than the sum of it’s very young parts.
(Canada opened the tournament with a 5-1 win over Italy on Monday, and will resume preliminary round action Monday against Latvia)
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Written by Daniel Maloney