Team Canada roster includes some surprises
Olympic men's hockey team looks to defend gold medal in Russia
The wait is finally over.
With executive director Steve Yzerman and his staff on hand to announce the 25-player Canadian men’s Olympic hockey roster Tuesday in Toronto the players selected can now turn their attention to defending the country’s gold medal.
The nation will be led by Olympic hero Sidney Crosby, whose "golden goal" at the 2010 Vancouver Games powered Canada to the gold medal in the final against the U.S.
Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins superstar centre, also ranks first in NHL scoring this season with 63 points.
Canada is looking to become the first country since professional hockey players were included at the 1998 Nagano Olympics to repeat as gold-medal champions.
Team Canada roster
- Roberto Luongo, G, Vancouver Canucks
- Carey Price, G, Montreal Canadiens
- Mike Smith, G, Phoenix Coyotes
- Jay Bouwmeester, D, St. Louis Blues
- Drew Doughty, D, Los Angeles Kings
- Dan Hamhuis, D, Vancouver Canucks
- Duncan Keith, D, Chicago Blackhawks
- Alex Pietrangelo, D, St. Louis Blues
- P.K. Subban, D, Montreal Canadiens
- Marc-Edouard Vlasic, D, San Jose Sharks
- Shea Weber, D, Nashville Predators
- Jamie Benn, F, Dallas Stars
- Patrice Bergeron, F, Boston Bruins
- Jeff Carter, F, Los Angeles Kings
- Sidney Crosby, F, Pittsburgh Penguins
- Matt Duchene, F, Colorado Avalanche
- Ryan Getzlaf, F, Anaheim Ducks
- Chris Kunitz, F, Pittsburgh Penguins
- Patrick Marleau, F, San Jose Sharks
- Rick Nash, F, New York Rangers
- Corey Perry, F, Anaheim Ducks
- Patrick Sharp, F, Chicago Blackhawks
- Steven Stamkos, F, Tampa Bay Lightning
- John Tavares, F, New York Islanders
- Jonathan Toews, F, Chicago Blackhawks
The team is filled with players that won gold in Vancouver. Aside form Crosby, there are returning forwards Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, among others.
On defence, Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith and Shea Weber will man the blue-line.
In goal, 2010 gold-medal game winner Roberto Luongo hopes to return as the starter but will battle with Montreal Canadiens' Carey Price, who makes his first Olympic team. Mike Smith of the Phoenix Coyotes will be Canada's third goaltender.
Other first-time players include high-scoring forward Steven Stamkos, speedsters John Tavares and Matt Duchene, along with Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban.
Subban got the final right-handed spot after much debate.
"P.K. is a guy that provides a dimension - the ability to transport the puck, run a power play," said Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland. "He can make a big play to win you a game. He can be a game-breaker."
Canada also features three of the top four NHL scorers in Crosby, Tavares (51 points) and Getzlaf (48).
"We had gone out last night for dinner and came back. We were down to a couple of names and it was a real strong, healthy debate," St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. "At some point we had to stop at 25. When we got to that last name, we shook hands and said we're excited about this team."
There are some injury concerns. High-scoring forward Stamkos broke his leg in October, and has just recently begun skating.
Luongo is suffering through a groin injury. Canada has until Feb. 12, or 24 hours before its first Olympic game, to replace any injured players.
Yzerman, the Tampa Bay Lightning's GM, refused to name possible candidates if Stamkos does not recover in time.
"If he's healthy he's one of the best 25 players obviously in Canada and should be on that team," said Yzerman.
He also admitted the difficulty in selecting players from such a deep Canadian talent pool, a sentiment echoed by Hockey Night in Canada analyst Glenn Healy.
“We’re choosing between Ferraris and Lamborghinis and we’re leaving the Mercedes in the garage,” Healy said. “That’s how many good players Canada has.”
Head coach Mike Babcock told Hockey Night's Elliotte Friedman that he hasn't picked a captain to this point, although there are plenty of veterans with Olympic experience to pick from.
Chemistry with Crosby
Yzerman is also hoping Chris Kunitz can continue his natural chemistry with Crosby in Sochi.
"Chris Kunitz has been an outstanding player throughout his career, a Stanley Cup champion," said Yzerman. "He played for me at the 2008 world championship in Quebec and Halifax and was
a very good player on that team."
"He's a skilled player," Yzerman added. "Yes he plays with Sidney Crosby and he's been a great contributor not only to that line but to his team."
St. Louis snubbed again
Martin St. Louis, snubbed in 2010 by Yzerman, was cut again. Joe Thornton, Eric Staal, Claude Giroux and Dan Boyle were also considered candidates who didn't make the cut.
"You know what - Claude Giroux, Joe Thornton - all these players, I can go on and on," Yzerman said. "I'm going to have to walk into rinks and see these players as well and I don't feel good
about not putting any of them on the team."
Yzerman said St. Louis, who plays in Tampa, was an especially hard decision.
"He's a tremendous hockey player who has played outstanding hockey for us in Tampa this year," said Yzerman, who is the general manager of the Lightning. "Our team has a good record and he's a
big reason why our team is playing well."
In Sochi, Canada will be slotted in Group B along with Austria, Norway and Finland.
Canada's first game is on Feb. 13 against Norway. The Canadians then play Austria on Feb. 14, followed by their group-stage finale against Finland on Feb. 16. Each game begins at 9 p.m. Sochi time (noon ET).
The quarter-finals are scheduled for Feb. 19, with the semifinals on Feb. 21 and the gold-medal game on Feb. 23.
With files from The Canadian Press