I just read this article on NHL.com and wanted to share it with my readers.
Before you know it, the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin will be here and that means there is even less time for the competing nations to make their roster selections.
For some countries, there is a conundrum over a couple spots. For Canada, yikes!
So many young players have burst on to the NHL scene this season that Team Canada Executive Director Wayne Gretzky and his staff are going to have some incredibly hard decisions to make.
At this stage of the season, you have to pencil Maple Leafs defenseman Bryan McCabe in for a spot on the backline. And what about Calgary Flames rookie Dion Phaneuf? He may be new to the NHL, but he is an old hand at international hockey for Canada.
So, who do you leave off the roster from the holdovers from the 2002 Olympic team and 2004 World Cup defense?
And up front, it’s going to be very difficult to ignore what Carolina Hurricanes forward Eric Staal and Penguins rookie Sidney Crosby have done thus far.
Mario Lemieux, who captained Canada in Salt Lake City in 2002 made it clear the other day that he doesn’t expect to be selected to the squad if he isn’t deserving of a place on the roster. Another veteran, Detroit’s Steve Yzerman, also said he will leave a decision on his participation up to Gretzky and his staff.
“There are too many good young players in Canada right now,” Lemieux said. “To take a spot just because of your name, that wouldn’t be right for Team Canada or myself. I think that they have to look at who is playing well at the time and who can help the most. It’s still a little early to say in that regard.
“If I am feeling good and playing well and they want me, well, then I’ll be there. But we’ll have to see.”
Not surprisingly, Lemieux is rooting for Penguins teammate Crosby to make the cut.
“He has been one of the best players in the league, game in and game out,” Lemieux said. “They should take a good look at him. It might be a good experience for him to see how it works.”
You can rest assured that the days leading up to the Dec. 22 roster deadline will not be easy for Gretzky and his Olympic staff.