Sunday, May 16, 2004


Canada's World Cup Team - Part I

Now that Gretzky and his cronies have picked your gold medal winners for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, everyone has their own view of who should have been picked and who shouldn�t have. Canada�s new guard is coming into its prime, and Canadian hockey hasn�t looked this strong in a long time. Two straight World Championships, Olympic Gold, and consistently strong showings at the World Under-20 Junior Championships have Canada ranked a clear #1 by the IIHF, much to the chagrin of the jealous Russkies.

Unlike the Olympics, Team Canada will be playing its games on the smaller North American-style ice surface. Power Forwards and grinders who normally have trouble with the bigger ice (Keith Primeau and Brendan Shanahan) would feel more at home in this tournament. This is a critical and overlooked factor when selecting a squad for this tournament. The European teams will need to account for this once they name their squads.

With 26 players selected (6 extras), there were extra rosters spots available, and this made Gretz�s job a lot easier. Before we look at who didn�t make it, let�s look at who did. Overall, this is a strong roster that has lots of everything.


Martin Brodeur, 32, New Jersey Devils: The goalie with the golden horseshoe up his buttocks, Brodeur is a good goalie behind great teams. Canada has won gold with him before, so he�s basically the default #1.

Roberto Luongo, 25, Florida Panthers: THE #1 goaltender in the NHL right now, Luongo proved himself at the World Championships in Czechia, and is their heir apparent to Brodeur. I�d give the #1 job to Luongo in a heartbeat, but we all know politics and the status quo will prevail.

Ed Belfour, 39, Toronto Maple Leafs: When is the last time that Belfour played for Team Canada? He�s a great goalie, but his back is questionable and he should be the #3.

The Ministry of Defence

Scott Niedermayer, 30, New Jersey; He might not put up the Bobby Orr-like offense that was expected of him, but he�s finally become an elite 2-way defenseman who really excels everywhere on the ice. If you want a proven winner, he�s the one, as he�s perhaps the only player who has won an Olympic Gold, WJC Gold, World Championships Gold, a Stanley Cup, and a Memorial Cup. Can you think of anyone else who has won all 5? If Canada wins the World Cup, he�ll have 6 major trophies on his mantle.

Rob Blake, 34, Colorado Avalanche: When he�s not headhunting and putting himself out of position for big hits, Blake is still an effective 2-way force on the blueline. With Al MacInnis injured, Blake will be the anchor on the Power Play.

Adam Foote, 32, Colorado Avalanche: Foote will take over Scott Stevens� role as the physical stopper on the back end, and will have to cover for Blake�s occasional brainfart. Foote has been able to stay healthy for the past couple of years, so he should be in good shape heading into this tournament.

Ed Jovanovski, 27, Vancouver Canucks: Special Ed is the �toolsy� choice that gives scouts orgasms and gives coaches heartburn. He can skate, pass, shoot, hit, and carry the puck all very well, but he�s prone to the occasional Igor Kravchuk giveaway. Unlike teammate Brent Sopel, at least Jovo doesn�t do that every 3 shifts.

Chris Pronger, 29, St. Louis Blues: Big, strong, and undisciplined. If he pulls the same crap of taking bad penalties like he did in the playoffs, I wouldn�t hesitate to bench him in an instant. Pronger can log big minutes, anchor the left side of the Power Play, and be the true #1 defenseman for Team Canada�but watch for some enterprising team to take advantage of his temper and get under his skin.

Eric Brewer, 25, Edmonton Oilers: Brewer is the most vanilla of Team Canada�s defenseman, but he�s big, skates well, and has played well for winning Canadian teams before.

Wade Redden, 26, Ottawa Senators: Redden�s been one of the best 2nd tier defensemen in the NHL for quite awhile, but hasn�t yet had much success winning anything.

Robyn Regehr, 24, Calgary Flames: A �surprise� addition to some, but since he�ll likely be a reserve, it�s a good pick since he won�t complain about lack of playing time.


Mario Lemieux, 38, Pittsburgh Penguins: This is guy who injures his back by bending over to tie his skates. Sure, he�s quite talented, but how effective can he be? If he were to get �injured� and miss the World Cup, it might not be the biggest loss for Team Canada. Right now, all Lemieux will be is an offensive role player for Canada.

Joe Sakic, 34, Colorado Avalanche: Pretty much a no-brainer here.

Joe Thornton, 25, Boston Bruins: Like Lemieux, he�s got questions regarding injuries. He skated with a broken rib in the playoffs when he shouldn�t have been playing at all. The result? 0 points and �6 in 7 games. Has he had enough time to heal? If not, take him off the roster and add a healthy body.

Steve Yzerman, 39, Detroit Red Wings: This guy must have his wife and kids, because he seems deathly afraid of retirement�and despite the fact that he has a shattered eye socket, a reconstructed knee, and a host of other ailments, Yzerman seems intent on coming back for another NHL season. Now, he was showing his age in this past playoffs, and this selection reeks of the old-boys club more than astute team picking. Yzerman is a good 2-way player, but there are better selections at this point in time. That said, Yzerman won�t hurt the team if he�s playing a 3rd or 4th line role, but I�d like to see someone younger in his place.

Brad Richards, 24, Tampa Bay Lightning: Will likely be shifted to the wing given the other centers on the roster. Vincent Lecavalier gets all the press, but Richards is the Lightning center who consistently performs at a high level.

Patrick Marleau, 24, San Jose Sharks: It�s hard to believe Marleau is only 24, since he�s played 558 games in 7 NHL seasons. Marleau has generally been a frustrating player to watch, since he�s so talented, but chooses not to use that talent on a nightly basis. He�s a pretty good player, but he�s still below-average defensively, and will likely be a reserve player at this point in time.

Kris Draper, 32, Detroit Red Wings: Not since Jody Hull scored 20 for the Panthers in 1996 has there been a less likely 20 goal scorer in the NHL than Kris Draper and his 24 goals this season. Draper has good speed and he�s proven himself to be an adept shadow in International Competition. Will form the International Grind line with Doan and Maltby that was so successful at the 2003 World Championships.


Jarome Iginla, 26, Calgary Flames: If you want the complete package, this is your specimen. If I were to start an NHL club, Iginla would be the first player I would choose (followed closely by Luongo).

Martin St. Louis, 28, Tampa Bay Lightning: The Canadian Pavol Demitra, St. Louis proved any doubters this season and deserves the MVP award. His lack of international experience is a concern, but he�s already stepped into uncharted territory and has proven himself with a big playoff performance.

Dany Heatley, 23, Atlanta Thrashers: When he�s not crashing Ferrari�s, Heatley is crashing the net and could very soon take over Iginla�s place as the best player in the game today (Once he learns some defense). His MVP performance at the World Championships erased any doubts about his current skill level, and I am very jealous of Thrashers fans that they have this guy and Ilya Kovalchuk to build around.

Shane Doan, 27, Phoenix Coyotes: Solid power forward, a Todd Bertuzzi-lite.

Simon Gagne, 24, Philadelphia Flyers: People look at his offensive numbers and seem puzzled at why Gagne would make the squad. Let�s face it, Gagne is still one of the most talented and speedier players in the game, and he�s more a victim of his coach�s defensive system and team depth than anything. Gagne is better than his numbers show.

Ryan Smyth, 28, Edmonton Oilers: If there was a Captain Canada, this guy would be it. Smyth has been a constant figure for Canada at the Olympics and World Championships, and has never rejected Canada�s call once. Smyth embodies the traits that Canadians claim make a �Canadian� player, and it�s only due to the presence of the old guys like Lemieux and Yzerman that would keep Smyth from getting the �C� again.

Brenden Morrow, 25, Dallas Stars: This is a classic example of a player that is better than his numbers. Morrow doesn�t tend to score more than .6 points a game, but he�s got the speed and skill set that makes him a good addition for Canada�s international teams as a defensive role player.

Kirk Maltby, 32, Detroit Red Wings : The most surprising pick to me, and the most annoying player on the Red Wing$�I expected Draper and Morrow, but not Maltby. There are many more skilled players to choose, so Maltby was selected more for the chemistry he�s developed with Draper.

Some nitpicks here and there, but you can't say this team isn't 'complete'.
Of course, the most important question is, where will they hide the lucky loonie?

Labels: ,

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?