Time to continue the review of Bob Nicholson`s comments following Canada`s quarter-final exit from the World Hockey Championships…
When asked about players declining the invitation extended after their first (or second) round series ended Bob had the following to say…
“It`s a few key players… This team was good enough to win, but with on or more players (it could have been different). You know what, Hockey Canada have been pretty good to those players through the under-18, the juniors and an Olympics Games.. I thought they would have thought about that before refusing to come this year.“
Clearly Bob and his Gm Dave Nonis were not impressed by the declined invitations but if you are going to bring something like this to the media you might as well state names…. they did it last year when Crosby refused the invitiation. If your expectations exceed your results why throw the blame on the shoulders of a “a few unnamed players“. Step up and accept some responsiblity yourself for selecting the GM, and the GM should do the same for putting the roster together…. if we are going to play the blame game that is.
Because in my opinion there is plenty of blame to go around… and why just blame the players that refused after being eliminated from playoff contention. The team didn’t have a legitimate starting goaltender on it’s roster…Eric Stall and Cam Ward both should have been on the team but they weren’t so clearly they refused to participate as well right? Or perhaps they weren`t asked….which would be the GM’s fault… see what I’m getting at here! If you are going to make it a public process in the future you should let the public know everyone that was asked and everyone that has declined. That way we are not just judging the morals of the players that refuse but we also get to judge the ability of the GM…… and Bob himself.
Now before I move on I want to quickly talk about legitimate reasons why players might decline the invintation other than injury. This is for those who decided to blame Crosby for last years loss not the GM Messier and for those who will blame those who they believe turned down this years invintation.
(1) Executive Roster Favors - Those who are asked to coach and act as GM have usually given players on the team they work for preferential treatment when putting the team together.. Eric Stall, Rene Boruque and even Mike Ribero or Andy McDonald would have been a better selection than Antoine Vermette who clearly made the team because his coach is Ken Hitchcock. Stephane Robidas, Trevor Daley, Jay Bouwmeester and Mark Giordano (to name a few) were more deserving than Luke Schenn who clearly made the team because Nonis works for Toronto… and of course Cam Ward would have been a massive upgrade over James Reimer who also plays for the Leafs….. So my point is why would players feel obligated to play with a National team that doesn’t have the best players available on it???
(2) Saving Roster Spots – I don’t know about you but if I was a Canadian hockey player and was awarded with the opportunity to play for my country you would probably invite family members and maybe even friends to come and watch you right? Well Canada has decreased the number of roster spots it “saves” for players eliminated from the playoffs meaning that with every addition to the roster someone else has to sit and watch from the stands… with their friends and family members. Doesn’t really seem fair.. or Canadian in my opinion and while I doubt every player invited has this thought process but I know that some of them have to think to themselves before saying no… “do I really want to take the opportunity away from someone else?”
I know that last year when the team got off to a slow start and Mark Messier was feeling the heat he really needed Crosby to come in and “save the day”. But why is Crosby’s job to fix Messier`s mistakes? It was clear that the team Messier put together wasn’t the best team possible. And do you really think that those who said NO this year didn’t realize why guys like Vermette, Reimer, Schenn made the team?
In my opinion the roster should either be set in stone and not changeable after the playoffs begin.. or team Canada should go back to a format where they set aside more roster spots for players still involved in the playoffs that they have in mind….
Anyways just a few more thoughts on comments that rubbed me the wrong way.. feel free to comment and let me know what you think.
About the Author
Written by Kirk Butler
Born and raised in Murray Harbour - PEI. Like many Canadians hockey is my religion; as a kid I had the pleasure of playing my minor hockey with Conn Smythe winner Brad Richards of the 2004 Stanley Cup winning Tampa Bay Lightning. I played competitive hockey until the age of 21 which included stops in the American Prep School System, Canadian Junior Hockey and the CIS. I now get my competitive fix on the golf course as a scratch golfer. More to come: Kirk Butler PEI, Canada