"...the only Olympic event [Canadians] care about, truly and passionately, is
the 2010 hockey tournament."
Even though Waikiki Hockey is in full swing with our "Bizarre Olympic Moments" segment the Olympics is something we think about for two weeks every four years ... except for the hockey. That's a daily job for the true Canadian hockey fan.
Muir's article takes a look at who should be on the Canadian team for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver ... the fact that this article came out the week the 2008 Summer Olympics started makes it even better.
Today we're going to look at the forwards and tomorrow we'll look at the blue liners and goalies.
Jarome Iginla, Sidney Crosby and Dany Heatley - This great combination of power and skill would give Canada the best line in the tourney (depending on what Russia does). Crosby is Canada's prize jewel and Iginla, our best power forward, had the highest point total for a Canadian this past year with 98. Heatley was off his game a bit in 2007-08 but can still score and mix it up with the best of them.
No arguments with Muir's picks for the top unit. We really like this line.
Rick Nash, Vincent Lecavalier, and Jonathan Toews - Many other Canadians had higher totals than Toews' 54 points last season, but he did it in only 64 games and is expected to get even better over the next few years. Lecavalier is a lock for the second line due to his experience with the Team Canada. Nash was a disappointment in the last Olympics, but he is a true scorer and should mesh well with Lecavalier.
We like Lecavalier and it would be tough to leave Nash off this team. Toews is a bit of a question mark for us. A very nice rookie season (cut short by injury) but we would like to see more experience from a second line player ... especially on Team Canada. Our feelings may change after a full season of watching Toews.
Mike Richards, Brenden Morrow and Shane Doan - As Muir points out, these three lack the prestige of some of Canada's other stars but they are all true leaders ... each wear the "C" for their team. All three can be pegged for around 70-80 points in an NHL season and all three have a feisty side ... Doan had 59 PIM's last year, Richards 76 and Morrow 105.
This is an interesting line. We like Doan but 2007-08 was his first season where he cracked 70 points. He's been a minus player three of the last four years and last season he really struggled. Richards broke through this season as he followed two seasons with 34 and 32 points with a monster 72 point season. We think Richards is a great player but we think Canada could pick somebody who is a bit more proven for this spot. Morrow also broke the 70 point barrier for the first time but he did it with a big plus-30 (he's only been a minus player once in his career). We'll add Morrow to our team but we think we can do better than having both Doan and Richards.
Eric Staal , Ryan Getzlaf, and Martin St. Louis - All three have enough skill to be a first or second line player for any other team in the tourney. This depth is why Canada is expected to take home the gold every year. Staal hasn't lived up to his 100 point season of three years ago, but has put up seasons of 70 and 82 points since, which isn't too shabby. St. Louis has Olympic experience and his speed should benefit him well on the Olympic sized surface, however, he has had an up-and-down career ... 94, 61, 104, and 83 points the last four years. Getzlaf has been improving each year in his short career and had a whopping 82 points last year.
We like all three of these. Muir get credit for putting them on the same line and we can't think of any reason this isn't a good idea.
Joe Sakic or Sam Gagner - Muir suggested Sakic may want to hold off retirement or make a comeback for the Olympics ... which will be played practically in his backyard. If Sakic can't make it, Muir thinks Sam Gagner would make a good addition for his quickness and shootout abilities.
Sakic's a bad idea. He's the sentimental pick and while it would be great to have him on the team after his long illustrious career ... he'll be 41 by the time the Olympics roll around. Why don't we bring back Lemieux, Yzerman and Gretzky while we're at it? This team needs to be as young as possible. As for Gagner, Canada has been burned in the shootout before so having him makes some sense but his 49 point, minus-21 rookie season isn't good enough for him to be on this squad. He'll need to break through this coming season to get this spot.
Joe Thornton is the big one. Muir makes a case that the second highest Canadian scorer last season with 96 points should not be on the team because he's not cut out for the high pressure environment. Other notables not on Muir's team are Jason Spezza (for reasons similar to Thornton's), Derek Roy and Ryan Smyth.
Who else is out there?
Want some NHL production on your team? Mike Ribeiro, Jason Pominville, Daniel Briere, J.P. Dumont, Paul Stastny, and Daymond Langkow all scored more than 65 points last year.
What about experience? Former Olympians like Todd Bertuzzi and Kris Draper won't be coming but what about Paul Kariya, Simon Gagne and Brad Richards? A bounce back season from any of them would put them back on the map.
You need speed? Players like Shawn Horcoff and Chris Kunitz may be invaluable on the big ice surface.
How about enthusiasm? Giving young prospects like Kyle Turris, Marc Staal, Corey Perry, Jordan Staal, Steven Stamkos or John Tavares a spot on the squad may benefit the Canadian team in the long term.
Still not enough? There's still Michael Cammalleri, Alex Tanguay, Nathan Horton, Patrice Bergeron and Patrick Marleau out there.
Where do you think Canada's "B" Team would finish?
Waikiki Hockey's Picks:
Jarome Iginla, Sidney Crosby and Dany Heatley - we like what Muir did here so we're not touching it.
Rick Nash, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis - Chemistry is a hard thing to get in a two week tournament. Vinny and Marty know each other well and should form a nice scoring line with Nash ... one of the only true scorers on this team.
Brendan Morrow, Joe Thornton and Mike Richards - We can't leave a 100 point scorer off this team. Thornton should enjoy passing to these two snipers and all three can throw the body around a bit. Also putting Thornton on the third line may take some pressure off of him. Thornton isn't really a checking center but he can hold his own. We ended up giving Richards the nod here over Doan, mostly due to age. (Doan will be 34, Richards will be 25 in 2010). If Richards or Morrow have an off-year/injury in 2009 or 2010 Doan could easily slide in here.
Eric Staal, Jason Spezza and Ryan Getzlaf - Spezza has 87 points or more for three straight years ... that has to be worth something. Having Spezza play between two young guys like Staal and Getzlaf should help keep him focused and hopefully make him step up his game a bit and be a leader. It's a very young line but sometimes those lines have the most amount of passion and energy.
We hope Gretzky does what he did in 2006 ... name a few players who are up for the last spot and see who steps up. Put Steven Stamkos on the list with Jonathan Toews and Sam Gagner. We expect Toews will win the job in the end. He could easily step in for an ineffective Thornton or Spezza if need be.
Shane Doan, Simon Gagne, Daniel Briere available to fill in for any injuries or unexpected slumps on the reserve squad.
Some tough choices for Gretzky and company to make but it's nice to be in a situation where we have to leave out such quality players.
Tomorrow we look at the defence on the squad and who is going to start in goal ... so make sure to come back to Waikiki Hockey to see the rest of our squad.