Who doesn’t belong on Team Canada?

There’s going to be a lot of buzz about Team Canada heading into the New Year.

On Dec. 30, Steve Yzerman will unveil the roster for the men’s Olympic team that will play in the Vancouver Olympics in February (originally it was going to be Dec. 31, but they moved it up a day so it wouldn’t take away from the the Canada-U.S. world junior hockey game on New Year’s Eve).

No matter who is selected, there will be plenty of people complaining about such and such a player should have made it.

In truth, Canada’s talent pool is so deep, they could send two teams pretty easily.

There’s such a competition, Team Canada officials should choose the top 10 obvious choices about mid-way through the month. Then, instead of announcing the other 13 members, they should a New Year’s Eve Royal Rumble of the next top 30 players, available only on pay-per-view. This would probably set viewing records in Canada, not to mention a chance to make some extra cash.

How much fun would that be to watch? Would teammates Vincent Lecavalier,  Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos become the hockey version of the NWO, joining forces to eliminate their enemies? Would former best friends and now rivals Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza come to blows early, a la Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty? Would anyone try a superkick if they’re wearing their skates?

Get Vince McMahon on the phone. Let’s make this happen.

Anyways, below is my list of ten players that won’t make the roster of Team Canada.

Dan Cleary

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I really wanted Dan Cleary to make this team. I tried making rational arguments. I tried making irrational arguments. I tried making way off the base arguments. And nothing works, because it all comes down to this: For all the roles he plays with the Detroit Red Wings, there are younger, faster, higher-scoring players that do it better.

I’d love to see a Newfie on Team Canada, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. He does have a chance if Yzerman wants someone he’s familar with. But I don’t see that happening.

(Editor’s note: I wrote this entry before he was injured with a separated shoulder, and will now be out for a month, so that seals this one. Just keep that in mind for whenever you see his name mentioned the rest of the way.)

Ryan Smyth

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Made a good case for himself early this season with nine goals and 23 points in 22 games before getting injured, but hasn’t made a good case for himself the couple of years before that.

Nicknamed Captain Canada, it would have been nice to see Smyth there performing for Canada on the world’s largest stage, but sentimentality doesn’t win you gold medals.

Brent Burns

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Brent Burns is a victim of the numbers game. There’s just too many good quality defencemen for him to make this roster. Unless there’s a couple of injuries in the next few weeks, he’s the odd man out.

In a few years, he’ll be a mainstay on this squad (once the older veterans like Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermeyer retire), but for now, he doesn’t have a shot.

Simon Gagne

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His chance to make this team can be summed up in one word: Zero. Gagne has all the talent in the world, but he never gets a chance to use it as he’s too busy seeing doctors for groin pulls and concussions. This year, after a slow start, he was diagnosed with double hernias, and had to have surgury.

Gagne made a great addition to Team Canada in 2002 and 2006, but there’s no guarantees he’ll be fully recovered by the time Team Canada announces the roster.

Jason Spezza

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Has any player with more potential seen their stock drop faster than Jason Spezza in the past five years? It’s like this generation’s Petr Nedved. Both were drafted second overall, and big things were expected of both. Neither have had a 100-point season, and Spezza seems headed for a marginal career.

Once seen as the saviour of the Sens, and future Team Canada guarantee, Spezza has played his way off the team the past few years. There are many reasons for this. First off is his play in international competition. He didn’t help his case two years ago when Ken Hitchcock dropped him to the fourth line during the World Championships. Second has been his uncanny ability to disappear in the playoffs. And third has been his steady decrease in points per season the past few years. At the age of 27, he should be enjoying his prime years for scoring. Instead, his points have dropped the past three seasons from 92 to 73 to the 50 he is on pace for this year. He’s also on pace for nine goals.

Throw in his liability on defence, his penchant for bad behind-the-back paces (which he is actually doing less of this season) and Team Canada’s depth at the centre position, and there is no way he makes this team.

Marc Savard

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Probably the biggest snub from the Team Canada training camp back in August, Savard needed to make a case for himself this season. An injury prevented him from doing that, and the fact the Bruins have struggled this year doesn’t help.

Savard, normally a playmaker, actually has more goals (8) than assists (6) this season. But Team Canada is filled with centres. If this was a bigger ice surface, like in Europe, I’d be more tempted to include Savard on the team, as it makes it easier to make passes with more space. But on normal NHL ice with a bevy of great centremen? Savard’s watching on the sidelines, sadly.

Mike Fisher

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Despite what my favourite Sens blog says (Five for Smiting), Mike Fisher doesn’t belong on Team Canada. Here’s why: the number 50. That’s a number that Fisher never had in any season when it comes to points.

Sure, he’s having a good two months to start the season, but you shouldn’t start the team based on only two months. Yes, he kills penalties, but so does Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Dan Cleary. In fact, Cleary is pretty much in the same boat as Fisher (their career highs in goals and points are close, and they both kill penalties). Cleary probably has more of an inside track, since he’s played a key role in the team’s Stanley Cups runs the past two seasons, and is a member of the Red Wings. But Cleary, as stated above, also doesn’t have a chance to make this team.

Mike Green

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Mike Green is a great offensive defenceman. Unfortunately for him, that has no place on Team Canada.

At least, not with the offensive defencemen already on the roster who also knows how to play defence and/or take the body on someone. If you want someone with pure offensive talent, then we already have that in Dan Boyle. Someone who can make the crisp pass is Scott Niedermeyer. The hard slapshot is Shea Weber. The stay-at-home defenceman is Jay Bouwmeester. The toughness is Chris Pronger. The youth guys are Duncan Keith and Drew Doughty.

Simply put, there’s nothing he does better than anyone else on this list, but he is more of a hinderance defensively (not a good idea for a defenceman).

A lot of people keep mentioning his as a seventh defenceman, used simply for the powerplay. But with the lineup we already have, we don’t need someone who can only play limited minutes. I’d rather a Duncan Keith back there in case one of the main six get injured, he could fill in many of the roles required, not a one-trick pony.

Vincent Lecavalier

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Lecavalier’s numbers have gone down every year for the past four years. Once a sure-fire lock to make this team, Vinnie has seen his place taken by younger players, such as teammate Steven Stamkos. In the past four years, his point totals look like this: 108, 92, 67 and 68 (his current pace for this season). His goal total during the same time period: 52, 40, 29 and 16 (his current pace). Although his numbers from four years ago look good, Team Canada officials should be looking at who makes the team for the 2010 Olympics, not the 2006 Winter Games.

I wonder if this would create bitterness in the Tampa locker room if Stamkos makes the team and Lecavalier doesn’t. Imagine how tense it would be for Lecavalier and Stamkos to have to keep seeing each other, every single day in practice, during games, on the bus, at dinner, on flights, in the hotel, etc. Stamkos has basically usurped Lecavalier’s spot in Tampa and on the national hockey scene. They can’t stay together for much longer. Maybe Vinnie would accept a trade, perhaps to the Canadiens?

Eric Staal

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This isn’t a pick based solely on this season’s production from Staal, even though that has a lot to do with it. Sure he’s a 100-point scorer, but that was five years ago. Since then, he has struggled more and more each season. He’s currently on pace for an eight-goal season. Eight goals! The Blackhawks score that many in a game on some nights.

Yes, Staal has missed some time, but even if he played the entire season, he’s only on pace for 13 goals.

In comparision, his brother Jordan has eight goals, and his other brother, Marc, also has three goals. And Marc is a defenceman.

There’s no way that type of output deserves to be on Team Canada.

Making it

The way I see it, these are the choices for the 23 roster spots that will make up Team Canada:

Three goalies: Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, Marc-Andre Fleury

Seven defencemen: Jay Bouwmeester, Dan Boyle, Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Shea Weber.

Thirteen forwards: Shane Doan, Ryan Getzlaf, Dany Heatley, Jarome Iginla, Patrick Marleau, Brenden Morrow, Rick Nash, Corey Perry, Mike Richards, Martin St. Louis, Joe Thornton, Crosby, Steven Stamkos

Three reserves: Dion Phaneuf, Jonathan Toews, Jeff Carter

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Who doesn’t belong on Team Canada?

  1. urbandaddy

    I commend you for such a thoughtful, well writeen post about Team Canada. From the title I thought this might just be a long list of players who will NOT make the team this year, like Colton Orr, Donald Brashear or Brian McGratton.

    Liked the WWE reference too!

    I’ll be back!

  2. Graham

    Pretty much agree entirely, with a couple exceptions. Switch Shane Doan and Toews and get Carter off the roster and I am on board. You could even make the case to add Tavares as a powerplay specialist.

  3. mal

    Re: Eric Staal

    Did you watch the playoffs last year Staal was a monster, he was playing as well as any player in the playoffs. The opposition keyed on him and could not stop him. This year he is off to a slow start and an injury. He makes my team.

  4. mal

    My Team

    Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, Marc-Andre Fleury, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Shea Weber, Jay Bouwmeester, Duncan Keith Dan Boyle, Brent Seabrook, Sidney Crosby, Rick Nash, Jarome Iginla, Corey Perry, Mike Richards, Brenden Morrow, Dany Heatley, Jonathan Toews Joe Thornton, Ryan Getzlaf, Patrick Marleau Jeff Carter, Eric Staal,

  5. mal

    I don’t see Stamkos making the team , as a 4th liner he get limited ice time ,I would rather have a Toews who wins face-offs, kills penalties, and a shoot out sniper. More dimensions.

  6. mal

    If I were betting man I would say they would take Doan over Carter, because of his experience.

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