It’s Canada. It’s hockey. It’s the Olympics.
Combine these three things and there will be no shortage of storylines to follow as the Canadian men's team prepares to open its orientation camp this week in Calgary.
Of course, we all understand that this Olympic orientation camp for Team Canada will not answer all — or maybe even any — of these questions but we will now start to see what this team is going to look like, and also who will be playing with whom.
Nobody will play their way on or off this team at this camp and even though a player hasn’t been invited it doesn’t mean he can’t end up on the squad.
Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman has said the management staff debated long and hard about Tampa’s Steven Stamkos and there is nothing holding him back from making the team should he light up the NHL this season.
Yes, Marc Savard fans, I hear you. I don’t know why he wasn’t invited either.
We’ll start to get a feel for how Canadian coach Mike Babcock wants this team to play, what systems they’ll employ and what style of game to expect out of Team Canada.
Canada and defending two-time world champion Russia are viewed as the top two teams in the tournament with the defending Olympic champs from Sweden expected to ice a strong team again.
Chat with HNIC's Jeff Marek live from Canada's Olympic camp
Hockey Night in Canada's Jeff Marek will provide special coverage of Team Canada's Olympic orientation camp, which begins Monday in Calgary.
Jeff will be filing daily reports for CBCSports.ca during the camp and on Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET you can ask him questions during a live interactive chat.
He will also send updates from Calgary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jeffmarek
Canada could ice two teams and be competitive with both; this year is no different. With depth at every position, some of these cuts will be down right cruel and certainly controversial.
With that in mind here are a couple of stories we’ll be following.
Dany Heatley: In Turin, Italy the most controversial player off the ice was Todd Bertuzzi but this time around it’s easily Heatley.
There is some talk that Yzerman and Hockey Canada are not exactly thrilled at how Heatley has reacted to a diminished role with the Ottawa Senators and the subsequent trade demand.
In a tournament like the Olympics, players are forced to put their egos aside and assume roles they are not accustomed to for the good of the team. Heatley’s behaviour this off-season epitomizes the me-first athlete. And yes, the irony of a player representing Canada after rejecting playing for two Canadian hockey markets is not lost on many.
Heatley’s saving grace may be that he’s been a loyal soldier for Hockey Canada, representing his country time and time again. Also, Canada is a little light at natural wingers (there will be a couple of centremen moved to the wing) and it’s hard to deny his ability to score big goals.
Who gets the "C"?: With Joe Sakic out of the equation, the captaincy is very much in play and up for grabs. Common wisdom has the prestigious position being assumed by defenceman Scott Niedermayer who will be playing in his home province of British Columbia.
But what about Shane Doan? Jarome Iginla? You could make a compelling case for all three of these guys. Or why not go the Vancouver Canucks route and give it to Roberto Luongo.
Who’s No. 3?: It would take a stumble of Hardy Astrom proportions, or a major injury for Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo to not get the starting and backup roles for Team Canada.
And both would be fine in the backup position. Brodeur in his book spoke openly about how he was not impressed with Patrick Roy’s demand that he play every minute of every game. The question is who’s the third goalie in the equation?
Marc-Andre Fleury demonstrated that his mental focus has caught up with his supreme athleticism en route to winning the Stanley Cup last season. Cam Ward is another former Cup winner who returned to Conn Smythe form last season. Or what about Calder trophy winner Steve Mason who won the world junior championship two years ago in the Czech Republic after beating Jonathan Bernier out of the starting job?
Who’s getting dirty?: Years ago Hockey Canada abandoned the philosophy of filling the roster with the most talented players available, choosing rather to build a traditional team with different players filling different roles.
That has opened the door for players like Kris Draper making the team over more offensively talented skaters. What’s Canada’s fourth line going to look like? Mike Richards, Brendan Morrow and Shane Doan? Does Milan Lucic fit in here? How about Dan Cleary?
Who’s the new guy?: Which players will make their Olympic debuts for Team Canada? Sidney Crosby is a lock after being passed over at the Torino Games but what other first timers will Team Canada boast? Ryan Getzlaf gets my vote right away but what about defencemen like Brent Burns, Mike Green and Shea Weber? While they may not have the body of work that other veterans boast, they would all be solid additions.
And how about Jeff Carter? Can’t turn your nose up at 46 goals.