20 Oct 2008 by 2010 Olympicsin
Next year the Olympics will be held in Vancouver, Canada and the most anticipated event will be the hockey. The NHL’s best will compete for the pride of there countries and not for money. No matter what your thoughts are on professional athletes at the Olympics, the hockey will be great. Being in Canada, will top it off, the players chosen to play for Team Canada will have more pressure on them then any hockey fan can imagine. Over the weekend Team Canada took the first steps toward building there team, announcing that Steve Yzerman will be the executive director. Joining Yzerman will be Ken Holland, Doug Armstrong and Kevin Lowe with Wayne Gretzky as a special advisor. This team of executives have a lot of experience and will have plenty of time to build the best team possible. Its time to take an early look at what the team might look like, starting from the coach, to the forwards, defenseman and goalies
The Coach - There will be a short list of coaches for this team, but you can be assured the management team will make the right decision. Obviously with Yzerman and Holland making the decisions Red Wing coach Mike Babcock will be at the top of this list. Don’t over look Wayne Gretzky, if he wants to coach this team, it will be hard to say no. Other guys who will be in the mix is Ken Hitchcock, Pat Quinn, Guy Carbonneau, Lindy Ruff and Brent Sutter. For my money I would think Babcock will be the coach if he wants it, look for Hitchcock to be involved as well.
Forward Lines – This is where it become fun, Canada in very deep up front and the executives will have to try and find the best mix. Its not all about talent, they will need to find some players who can play in all situations. Well I think the top line will be Sydney Crosby at center and a couple wingers who you think he can get the best out of. I think all Canadians will love to see Jerome Iginla on the right side of Crosby. A healthy Simon Gagne would look very good on the left side and create a fantastic first line. The second line would centered by Vincent Lecavalier in my opinion and would be joined by Rick Nash playing left wing and Danny Heatley on the right. As the second line these three will be big and physical, and able to create a lot of offense. On the third line I would make it a little bit more of a checking line with Flyers captain Mike Richards as its center. Joining Richards would be physical players Shane Doan and Brendan Morrow, all three can penalty kill and play a physical game. The fourth line is where the tough decisions will have to be made, Canada will need to pick guys who can play a role and contribute when needed. If San Jose all star Joe Thornton is willing to play a role he will be the fourth line center. Martin St. Louis can play in all spots and is a good penalty killer which will get him a spot on this line playing right wing. Much like St. Louis under rated Sabres forward Derek Roy will make this team.
Line 1 Gagne Crosby Iginla
Line 2 Nash Lecavalier Heatley
Line 3 Doan Richards Morrow
Line 4 Roy Thornton St. Louis
Defense - The defense will be a mix of young and veteran players. Canada is not as deep on the back end as they are up front, but they still have a tone of talent. The group will be led in my opinion by tough physical defenseman Dion Phaneuf and Chris Pronger. For offence Team Canada will look at young exciting Capitols D-man Mike Green and veteran puck mover Dan Boyle. The third pairing will open for competition over the next year and I think Wild defenseman Brent Burns will earn one of the spots. Jay Boumeester will join Burns to make the final pairing.
Pairing 1 Phaneuf Pronger
Pairing 2 Green Boyle
Pairing 3 Burns Boumeester
Goalies - The top two goalies are very easy to figure out, Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo are locks for this team. The third goalie will probably be the goalie who is playing the best at the time, look for Marty Turco to be picked because of his team Canada experience.
Obviously this is my opinion and there are a lot of players left to fight it out for the roster filling spots. Its important to note that if Joe Sakic and Scott Niedermayer are still playing next season there is a good chance they will be on this team. Team Canada knows the value of experience, that is a role Yzerman himself played for team Canada in the later years of his career. There are some notable players not of my list, who I think will battle it out for the final roster spots. Jason Spezza, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Jonathon Toews, Eric Staal and Ryan Smyth will fight to make the forward lines. On defense guys like Shea Weber, Brian Campbell, Sheldon Souray, Wade Redden and Marc Staal will be in the mix for jobs. Goalies in the mix for the final roster spot will be JS Giguere, Carey Price and Marc Andre Fleury.
Hockey Canada is very deep and will be interesting to see the decisions that need to be made over the next year. Its been said that Canada could put two teams into these tournaments that could compete a world class levels. It’s a long time from now still and this list will change, and some players will earn there way into the conversation over this season. Its fun to look at and I am sure the Olympic hockey tournament will be the highlight of the games. These are my opinions and I am sure a lot of people have different ones, but will all know Canada will have a deep team and will be there to compete with the best in the world.