Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Team Canada: More of the Same

While the Americans announced their Olympic Hockey team earlier this week, today was Canada’s turn, announcing the squad that will defend the Men’s 2002 Olympic Gold Medal, and unofficially the 2004 World Cup Title as well. Perhaps because of this success, Team Canada’s brass chose to bring back the bulk of the players from their championship squads.

Now, before we talk about the selections, I have a beef. I’m not happy with Hockey Canada for their David Stern-esque decision to give the Women’s Team equal face time to the Men’s Team, going so far as to alternate the announcement of selections, one by one. If you didn’t catch it, imagine if at next year’s NBA Draft, they held the WNBA Draft at the same time and location, alternating picks. I doubt you’d be happy if you had to wait through the Detroit Shock’s and Connecticut Sun’s selections to see how Rob Babcock would screw up the Raptors’ draft this year.

Look, I hope the Women do well, but like 99% of the people watching this, I care about the men’s selections since:
a) I actually know the players.
b) I actually follow Men’s Hockey

Neither of those criteria apply to women’s hockey, so why would I be interested?

Anyway, after a couple of picks, I muted the TV so I could go back to listening to ESPN Radio. I suspect many viewers did a similar thing. Now here are the picks:

Roberto Luongo
Martin Brodeur
Marty Turco

Rob Blake
Adam Foote
Scott Niedermayer
Chris Pronger
Wade Redden
Robyn Regehr

Shane Doan
Simon Gagne
Kris Draper
Dany Heatley
Jarome Iginla
Vincent Lecavalier
Rick Nash
Brad Richards
Ryan Smyth
Martin St. Louis
Joe Thornton
Ed Jovanovski
Todd Bertuzzi
Joe Sakic (Captain)

Bryan McCabe
Jason Spezza
Eric Staal

• So much for the 2005-06 regular season having a major effect on the selection. The extent of its effect can be felt on the alternates list, which Spezza and Staal were able to play themselves on to. McCabe may have gotten the nod even without his offensive explosion, but he certainly hasn’t hurt his cause over the past three months. Conversely, someone like Marty St. Louis still made the squad despite being far down the scoring list through the first 30 games.

• I’m a bit surprised that CuJo was left off, but you can’t fault the Goalie selections. With Marty Turco beating out Jose Theodore, this might be the end of the line in International Competition for the Canadiens keeper.

• I don’t like the picks of Foote, Draper, and Doan. They’ve struggled this season, and in the cases of Foote and Draper, age could be a big factor. There were better choices for checking line center than Draper, some who could have put the puck in the net as well.

• I’m surprised they didn’t bring Sid the Kid along, just for the experience. Maybe they figured that with the way the Pens are playing, he’ll be available for the World Championships in April.

• Who were the two players who got Mario and Yzerman’s spots? I’m guessing Smitty and Bertuzzi, the rest of the forwards seemed to be virtual locks.

Now, while I have lukewarm feelings about the picks, I will concede that they’re still the odds-on-favorite to win, which is a credit to the depth of talent in Canada. This year's Olympic team will be (as the title said), more of the same from the past two tournaments. You can't really fault them, since this lineup's worked for 2 first place finishes, but I can't help but shake the feeling that come March, Gretzky, Lowe and company will have wished that they had brought some more new blood into the mix in Turino.


At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Phoff said...

Wow! I wasn't aware that the Hockey Canada announcement was just for you. That must be nice.

Listen, just because you are not interested in women, that doesn't mean that other aren't. It also doesn't mean that, given their amazing international record, they don't deserve as much publicity as the men.

At 1:25 PM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...



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