Recently, SBNation asked their various hockey blogs to vote on Canadian and USA Olympic men's hockey rosters for Sochi 2012. Being a Canadian blog (although three of our five core writers are in New York NY, DuPont Circle DC and Sydney, Australia) we were asked to submit picks for Canada's team. Three goalies, seven D-men, and 13 forwards. The final voting results can be viewed here.
I was happy to take it on, but had no idea how just difficult the the final choices would be. And I'm just a guy on a laptop..imagine how Steve Yzerman feels, making cuts from such an embarrassment of riches.
Ultimately, there were going to be many great players left off the list. FHS CEO Cam Collingwood threatened to fire someone if Evander Kane and Logan Couture didn't make the cut. Fellow FHS writer Michael Benedicks didn't think Kane had done enough to deserve to represent his country. Benedicks also didn't think Drew Doughty even belonged on the team, with which I disagreed, but he did make a great case for Girardi, who I included. Personally, I already regret leaving Jamie Benn off the squad. But as was the case with a lot of young, deserving players like Kane, Couture, Hall and Nugent-Hopkins, Benn ended up losing out to the experience of 2010 returnees. The young guns' time will come, and a year from now some of them may have played their way on to the team, but as it stands now, here's the list I submitted.
Forwards: Patrice Bergeron, Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Eric Staal, Jonathan Toews, Corey Perry,Rick Nash, Claude Giroux, Tyler Seguin, Jordan Eberle, Patrick Sharp, Jarome Iginla (captain). Yes, I'm bringing Iggy back. If he's clearly lost another step a year from now, Hall or Kane are more than ready to fill in, but this team needs a last-shot oldtimer to play for, and Iginla is that guy. Naming him captain frees up Crosby to concentrate on filling the net. This lineup really doesn't need more scoring, so all-around guys like Bergeron and Sharp are essential to the mix. With the larger international ice surface in play, it might be the wrong move to opt for power forwards over young speedsters, so it's probably pretty sweet for Canada that I'm not picking the actual team.
Defensemen: Drew Doughty, Shea Weber, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Alex Pietrangelo, Kris Letang, Dan Girardi. The guy I had a real issue leaving out is Dan Boyle, but something had to give to make room for Pietrangelo. Weber is a lock, and I felt the Keith/Seabrook pairing was so key in 2010 that they deserved to come back. That leaves Letang and Girardi, along with Pietrangelo, as the new kids in town. Letang might be our best offensive option, and in picking Girardi over Marc Staal for the last spot, I relied on Michael Benedicks' comparison of the two players: "Staal probably has the edge offensively but that wouldn't be the reason to have him there. The team will have plenty of scoring firepower. Girardi is a better hitter and shot blocker. He is more fearless and is just overall tougher to play against".
Goalies: Roberto Luongo, Marc-Andre Fleury, Carey Price. Hard to leave out Cam Ward, but even harder to leave out two of the gold-winning goalies from Vancouver. Carey Price could/should end up being the starter here if he keeps up his recent play.
As always, we are interested in your input. Did we get it right? What would your team look like?