Race for Olympic team at halfway point
Canadian roster could see several changes
Any player that Steve Yzerman has marked down for a spot on the Canadian Olympic men's hockey team roster has been written in pencil at this point.
"We're only six weeks into the season and there is [seven] more to go before the roster will be named," said the executive director of the Canadian Olympic men's hockey team in Toronto on Tuesday.
Let the debate begin. We're six weeks into the 2009-10 NHL season and there is another seven weeks to elapse before Canadian Olympic men's hockey team executive director Steve Yzerman submits his final 23-player roster. Here is what we believe the roster should look like after the first six weeks.
Goaltenders: Martin Brodeur, Marc-Andre Fleury, Roberto Luongo.
Defence: Jay Bouwmeester, Dan Boyle, Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Shea Weber.
Forwards: Sidney Crosby, Shane Doan, Ryan Getzlaf, Dany Heatley, Jarome Iginla, Patrick Marleau, Brendan Morrow, Rick Nash, Corey Perry, Mike Richards, Ryan Smyth, Martin St. Louis, Joe Thornton.
Still in the game: Steve Mason, Mike Green, Dion Phaneuf, Robyn Regehr, Vincent Lecavalier, Dustin Penner, Steven Stamkos, Derek Roy, Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, Brad Richards.
"Nobody is locked in at this point. We could see a totally different group of players emerge in the next six weeks. We could see somebody score 15 goals between now and Dec. 31 [when he will name the team]."
So Yzerman will continue to watch and monitor the play and the health of potential candidates. Already, several players invited to the summer orientation camp in Calgary have been sidelined with an assortment of ailments, including Simon Gagne, Mike Green, Roberto Luongo, Cam Ward, Shea Weber, Dan Hamhuis, Milan Lucic, Andy McDonald, Jason Spezza, Eric Staal and Jonathan Toews.
How much has Yzerman been in contact with the players?
"Very little," he said. "I say hi to them in the hallways of the rink, but discussing where they stand in terms of making the roster is something I'm not sure is right.
"I've debated with it. The Olympics right now are in the back of their minds. Right now they're focused with their own clubs. The day after a game, they are either happy or unhappy depending on how they played. I don't need to be contacting them about their game right now."
Even with injuries, Yzerman doesn't want to contact teams about the health of a certain players because of his position as vice-president with the Detroit Red Wings. Instead, he has relied on the Olympic team medical staff — Flames physician Dr. Jim Thorne, Canucks athletic therapist Mike Burnstein and his Rangers counterpart Jim Ramsay — to keep him informed.
Yzerman also refrained from talking about individual players because things change and he doesn't want to mislead the player or the fans with public comments about their game. Instead, he discussed the type of player he's looking at, frontline people who can score or can excel as role players.
The Canadian team is trying to become only the second team in Olympic history to win gold at home. The United States turned the trick in 1960 in Squaw Valley and again two decades later in Lake Placid.
A day after Yzerman was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, he returned to the HHOF to take part in the unveiling of the details for Molson Canadian Hockey House, an 81,000-square-foot facility that will be located near GM Place. It will host the players, their families and the fans for 21 days during the Vancouver Olympics.
Musical acts Barenaked Ladies, Colin James, Sam Roberts, George Canyon and Tom Cochrane, as well as comedian Brent Butt, are entertainers scheduled to appear at the Hockey House during the Olympics.