Team Canada part deux
by Joe McFarland Guest Columnist
You have to feel for Steve Yzerman and Co. He’s assembled what he thinks is the best 23-man roster that Canada has to offer. Win gold and he’ll be hailed a messiah, anything less than gold in Vancouver and every pick will be analyzed and over-analyzed, including the selection of Yzerman himself as the boss. That’s a little pressure.
Not a day after Yzerman made the selections, the prognosticators were out with their “woulda, coulda, shouldas.” Having a country so deep in talent is both a blessing and hindrance. Everyone has their thoughts on who might have been better choices. The thing is, Canada has the talent to field two teams. So let’s take a gander at who would make “Team Canada two”:
Goaltenders: Carey Price, Steve Mason, Marty Turco
Canada pumps out goalies left, right and centre. These guys do air on the side of “really young” and in the case of Price, he’s had his struggles over the past year or so, as has Turco, the elder statesman of the group. It would be interesting to see who would be the starter, kind of like the present-day argument between Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo. Mason might have the edge at this point. If not for injury, Cam Ward would be in the mix, while I think J.S. Giguere might have been given a shot.
Defensemen: Dion Phaneuf, Jay Bouwmeester, Robyn Regehr, Braydon Coburn, Brian Campbell, Mike Green, Tyler Myers
If there’s a strength Canada has, it’s the depth on the blueline. The main arguments about the Olympic team centered around Drew Doughty’s selection over Bouwmeester and Green in particular. So obviously those two would make “Team Canada two”. This fantasy squad is definitely Flames-oriented as there was talk even before the season started that the Olympic team could have had three Calgary defensemen. I would be tempted to throw J-Bo and Regehr together, with Phaneuf and Coburn knowing each other from previous World Junior Championships. That leaves Campbell and Green to work together, most likely as the top combo. Myers would hold down the spot as the “young d-man learning” who could fill in for anyone not getting the job done. Honourable mention could go to Sheldon Souray (injury concerns), Stephane Robidas (game loss numbers) and Bryan McCabe (defensive zone concerns).
Forwards: Ryan Smyth, Marc Savard, Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, Mike Cammalleri, Milan Lucic, Jeff Carter, Mike Fisher, Patrick Sharp, Steve Stamkos, Derek Roy, Shane Doan
After writing in this list, my first impression is “they’re small”. But I managed to mix in a few bigger guys along with those willing to go to the front of the net for punishment and it seems like a good mix. Smyth is your captain, as he’s been in the position before and I think he has single-handedly helped jumpstart the careers of Doughty and Anze Kopitar in Los Angeles. He could sit on a line with Savard and Cammalleri. The second line would likely be the “Tampa Bay Connection” with Lecavalier, St. Louis and Stamkos. The shutdown line would be Sharp with Carter and Doan. Then your fourth line (which is more like a second, second line) has Lucic sitting in the front of the net with Richards and Fisher.
That leaves Roy as the 13th forward, which is good because he could move onto any of the lines and he would be a good fit. Some people would argue that John Tavares belongs on this list and I don’t necessarily disagree but I think he just falls victim to the numbers game. Other players capable of moving in here: Mike Ribiero and Danny Briere.
I’m not sure if this list will get the scrutiny the real Team Canada has received already but it does show the strength of the talent being developed in this nation. So the next question becomes: who makes “Team Canada three?”
– Joe McFarland is the arena host for the Medicine Hat Tigers and the News/Sports Director of 102.1 The Lounge in Medicine Hat.