Kunitz, Marleau among final picks
Team Canada’s management staff met for seven hours to decide on the final players on the 25-man roster for the Sochi Olympics, and predictably there was still plenty of debate over who made it and who didn’t.
In the final analysis, forwards Jeff Carter, Patrick Marleau and Chris Kunitz were named to the roster, while Martin St. Louis, Claude Giroux and Logan Couture were left off. “Every one of us in Canada has an opinion on who should be on this team and nobody’s wrong,” executive director Steve Yzerman said Tuesday. “Nobody’s wrong because they’re all really good players. Ultimatel, this group is in charge of deciding who the 14 (forwards), eight (defencemen) and three (goalies) are.” Of the 25, 11 won gold at the Vancouver Games. That includes Sidney Crosby, who scored the overtime winner in the 2010 final, and goaltender Roberto Luongo, who is likely to split the 2014 tournament’s first two games with Carey Price. Forwards Jonathan Toews, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Patrice Bergeron, Rick Nash and Marleau and defencemen Shea Weber, Duncan Keith and Drew Doughty also return from 2010. “I like the makeup and (think) the experience of Stanley Cup-winners and 11 gold-medallists and 12 participants in the Olympics before is going to be key as we move forward,” said Doug Armstrong, St. Louis Blues GM and member of Team Canada’s management staff. Price and forwards John Tavares and Steven Stamkos lead the group of newcomers, which is full of youth and speed, which will be key on the international-sized ice surface. Other newcomers include forwards Kunitz and Matt Duchene and defencemen Jay Bouwmeester, Alex Pietrangelo and P.K. Subban, who was the subject of much debate leading up to Tuesday’s announcement.
“In the end we’ve put together the best group of players we possibly can,’”coach Mike Babcock said. “Now we have to become the best team we possibly can.’” Team Canada is hoping to cash in on Kunitz’s natural chemistry with his Penguins teammate Crosby. “A lot of people have asked me is Kunitz being helped by Sidney Crosby,” Yzerman said. “They help each other. He’s a tremendous player and ultimately, we asked ourselves, does he belong on this team? And the answer is yes.” St. Louis, snubbed in 2010 by Yzerman, was cut again this time around. Joe Thornton, Eric Staal and Dan Boyle were also considered candidates who didn’t make the cut. Yzerman said St. Louis, who plays in Tampa, was an especially hard decision. “He’s a tremendous hockey player who has played outstanding hockey for us in Tampa this year,’” said Yzerman, who is the general manager of the Lightning. “Our team has a good record and he’s a big reason why our team is playing well.” Lightning forward Stamkos’ status for the tournament is unclear as he continues to recover from a broken leg. Yzerman said his rehab is going well. “If he’s healthy he’s one of the best 25 players, obviously, in Canada and should be on that team,” said Yzerman. Canada’s roster features two of the NHL’s Top 3 scorers in Crosby (23 goals, 40 assists) and Getzlaf (20 goals and 28 assists). U.S. winger Patrick Kane (23 goals, 31 assists) is the other. Canada beat the United States in overtime to win the gold medal in 2010 when Crosby beat Ryan Miller. It was Canada’s second gold medal since the NHL began sending its players at the 1998 Nagano Games. Canada opens the Sochi Games Feb. 13 against Norway.
TEAM CANADA ROSTER
Goaltenders: Roberto Luongo, Carey Price, Mike Smith.
Defencemen: Jay Bouwmeester, Drew Doughty, Dan Hamhuis, Duncan Keith, Alex Pietrangelo, P.K. Subban, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Shea Weber.
Forwards: Jamie Benn, Patrice Bergeron, Jeff Carter, Sidney Crosby, Matt Duchene, Ryan Getzlaf, Chris Kunitz, Patrick Marleau, Rick Nash, Corey Perry, Patrick Sharp, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Jonathan Toews.