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Niedermayer to captain Canadian team

Veteran defenceman and B.C. native Scott Niedermayer will serve as captain of the Canadian men's hockey team at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Veteran defenceman and B.C. native Scott Niedermayer will serve as captain of the Canadian men's hockey team at the 2010 Vancouver Games, it was announced on Wednesday.

Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman helped unveil the names of the highly anticipated 23-man roster in Saskatoon, site of the continuing IIHF world junior hockey championships.

Yzerman said "great debate" among the team's brain trust occurred for all players ultimately selected. He said the final choice — he wouldn't say which players were involved — was made just a couple of hours before the announcement.

Scott Niedermayer of the Anaheim Ducks, seen at the summer orientation camp in Calgary, didn't get to play for Canada at the 2006 Games due to an injury. ((Larry MacDougal/Canadian Press))

"I think the majority of them, they've all played for Canada internationally, whether it be Olympics, world juniors or the men's worlds," Yzerman told CBC News during a press conference following the announcement. "They've had a lot of success, they've had a lot of opportunity and I think a lot of them played in Canada on home ice in sold out buildings ... so some of these guys have been through it before."

The players are:

TEAM CANADA'S SCHEDULE

Canada begins its quest on Feb. 16 against Norway, followed by preliminary Group A games against Switzerland (Feb. 18) and the United States (Feb. 21). All three games start at 7:30 p.m. ET at GM Place in Vancouver.

There are 12 countries competing, divided into three groups. The top four teams after the preliminary round advance straight to the quarter-finals, with the remaining eight determining the remaining four quarter-final spots in a one-game qualification round.

The gold medal game will take place on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 3:15 p.m. ET.

Goalie

  • Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils
  • Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks

Defence

  • Dan Boyle, San Jose Sharks
  • Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
  • Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks
  • Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim Ducks
  • Chris Pronger, Philadelphia Flyers
  • Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks
  • Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

Forwards

  • Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
  • Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
  • Dany Heatley, San Jose Sharks
  • Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames
  • Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks
  • Brenden Morrow, Dallas Stars
  • Rick Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets
  • Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks
  • Mike Richards, Philadelphia Flyers
  • Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes
  • Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks
  • Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

There are many players with their own intriguing storylines.

Niedermayer is already a member of the so-called Triple Gold Club, a select group of players who have won a Stanley Cup, world championship and Olympic gold medal. The Cranbrook, B.C., native won Olympic gold with Canada in 2002 but was forced to miss the 2006 Torino Games due to an injury, an absence that hurt the team.

Alternate captain Crosby was an 18-year-old NHL rookie and passed over for the 2006 Olympics. The Cole Harbour, N.S., native this season became the youngest captain in NHL history to lead his club to a Stanley Cup.

Iginla, another alternate captain, won gold with the 2002 Olympic squad but is one of a number of players from the team four years ago looking to erase the sting of the disappointing seventh-place showing.

Toews, just 21, is the youngest captain in the NHL and arguably the best Canadian shootout scorer.

Veterans and former teammates Niedermayer and Pronger (an alternate captain) lead a defence that includes first-timers Doughty, Keith, Seabrook and Weber, with Boyle set to make a second Olympic trip.

No Calgary defencemen were selected among contenders Dion Phaneuf and 2006 members Jay Bouwmeester and Robyn Regehr. Mike Green of the Washington Capitals was also left out.

Yzerman said the tough choices weren't made lightly.

"There's no question there's some tremendous players, and Mike Green is an outstanding offensive defenceman," he said. "We felt that Drew Doughty in this case is a little bit more complete a player, and based on how he played at the world championships … that he was a better fit for us."

Executive director Steve Yzerman and coach Mike Babcock stand on the dais in Saskatoon in front of banners featuring several players. ((Nathan Denette/Canadian Press))

Up front, there is a San Jose triumvirate and a pair of Anaheim forwards, but Tampa Bay's Steve Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis, the latter two from the 2006 Olympic team, were not selected.

Shane Doan, Brad Richards and Ryan Smyth were other Olympic veteran forwards not chosen this time. Jeff Carter and Jordan Staal were among the first-time aspirants who couldn't crack the roster.

There was little suspense as to the goaltending corps, as three of the six candidates named to the summer orientation camp in Calgary suffered early-season injuries or slumps. Brodeur and Luongo are set to return to the Olympics, with Fleury making his first appearance. All three were born in Quebec.

Brodeur and Pronger are set to make a fourth Olympic appearance, with Iginla going for a third time.

Doughty, who turned 20 on Dec. 8, is the youngest player chosen. The 37-year-old Brodeur is the oldest.

Hockey Canada president/CEO Bob Nicholson, executive vice-president of hockey operations Johnny Misley, and associate directors Doug Armstrong, Kevin Lowe and Ken Holland were among those who helped Yzerman, who succeeded Wayne Gretzky as executive director.

The 2010 team will be coached by Mike Babcock from the Detroit Red Wings. The Saskatoon native has previously led Canada to wins at the world championships at the junior and senior levels. Babcock's assistant coaches are Lindy Ruff (Buffalo), Jacques Lemaire (New Jersey), and Ken Hitchcock (Columbus).

The gold won at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games is Canada's only medal in the three Olympic tournaments that have featured a full complement of NHL players.

Canada will go for the country's seventh gold and 13th medal overall in men's hockey since 1924. In addition to the likes of Russia, Sweden, Finland and the United States, Canada is going up against recent history — the last team from a host country to win the men's tournament was the United States at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y.