Wednesday, December 21

Turin 2006

I watched the announcement of the Canadian Olympic hockey team roster live via TSN.com on my computer at work. A detailed final roster of 23 plus three alternates is here.

Goalies:

Martin Brodeur
Roberto Luongo
Marty Turco

Defense:

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

Forwards:

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

Alternates:

Bryan McCabe
Jason Spezza
Eric Staal

Overall, not bad. Not a surprise, but not bad. Veteran heavy, loaded with proven winners, good combination of speed (Gagne, Nash), grit (Draper, Blake, Regehr), and goalscoring (Nash, Heatley, Iginla). I like the alternates too, although with McCabe plus the seven starting defensemen, the team is overloaded with left-hand shots (only Blake and Foote are righties).

My only quibbles, and they are not criticisms:

I think there is a good case for including Spezza in the starting roster to center Heatley, as he has done so productively in Ottawa. But that would involve dropping one of the other centers (Richards, Lecavalier, Sakic, Thornton, Draper), which is not easy. Although Heatley was just as productive before he joined Ottawa, I generally like keeping lines or partnerships together for short tournaments when there is not much chance for a hastily assembled all-star team to prepare.

While it is hardly possible for a player to do more to justify inclusion than Staal has this year, he suffers from the same overabundance of centers. Still, I would favor Staal over Ryan Smyth or Rick Nash. Nash has not had much time to play himself up to speed (5 games, two goals, no assists) and Smyth, even at his best, isn't quite as good as Staal has been this year. Smyth, however, has a history of international competition in which he has performed well. Again, not an easy call, but I don't think that any team can afford to overlook the best all-round player in the NHL this year.

Turco over CuJo was probably the only surprise. This is probably a coin toss, but Turco has been exceptional, so I can't reasonably object.

Enough about the team. There will be plenty of time to dissect it between now and February. My biggest criticisms are of the announcement ceremony itself. What an embarrassment. It was late, slow, and cringe-inducingly amateurish. Either Hockey Canada should just issue a press release or it should go all out and have a star-studded affair, with a proper emcee (Ron McLean?) and a big screen, with highlights of each player as he is announced. What they gave us instead was a half-blocked off GM Centre rink with a red carpet (which made for bad lighting and acoustics), some Hockey Canada officials on folding chairs, hesitant announcers, and a child parading across the carpet in the sweater of each player as he or she was announced. Confusingly, the men's and women's teams were announced simultaneously--women alternating with men--another bad idea. Even worse, some of the men's team players were represented by girls (especially the first few announced), which was rather discombobulating. What a waste of half an hour.

Still, I'm seriously excited for Turin.

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