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Thread: Crosby, Brodeur to lead Canada's Olympic team

      
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    Default Crosby, Brodeur to lead Canada's Olympic team

    Crosby, Brodeur to lead Canada's Olympic team
    By ALAN ROBINSON AP Sports Writer The Associated Press
    Wednesday, December 30, 2009


    Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby prepares for a face-off.

    Sidney Crosby isn't the only kid on a Canadian Olympic hockey team that is being built around youth, speed and teammates who have grown comfortable playing alongside each other.

    The youngest captain in NHL history to win a Stanley Cup was chosen Wednesday for Canada's Olympic hockey team, four years after being left off the underachieving squad that finished a disappointing seventh in Turin, Italy.

    Crosby was among the easiest picks for executive director Steve Yzerman, the longtime Red Wings captain whose choices have been debated for months in hockey-obsessed Canada, which virtually shut down for the team's unveiling.

    "This is a special honor," Crosby said. "I'm pretty proud of it."

    Among the top selections are New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur, who recently set the NHL record with his 104th career shutout; defensemen Scott Niedermayer of Anaheim and Chris Pronger of Philadelphia; Calgary forward Jarome Iginla, the star of Canada's 2002 gold-medal winning team and Joe Thornton, the NHL scoring leader.

    Niedermayer is the captain, with Pronger, Crosby and Iginla as alternates. Penguins star Crosby, 22, wasn't the youngest chosen Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty just turned 20, and Chicago forward Jonathan Toews is 21. Of the 23 players, 12 are 25 or younger, compared to only seven in 2006.

    Joining Brodeur in goal will be 2006 holdover Roberto Luongo of Vancouver and Penguins Stanley Cup winner Marc-Andre Fleury.

    Also chosen at forward were Rick Nash, Columbus; Thornton's San Jose teammates Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley; Philadelphia's Mike Richards; Patrice Bergeron, Boston; Eric Staal, Carolina; Anaheim's Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf and Brenden Morrow, Dallas. Bergeron was the only player chosen who wasn't invited to the pre-Olympic camp in August.

    The defensemen include Chicago's Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith; Dan Boyle, San Jose; and Shea Weber, Nashville.

    Because there will be only one practice in Vancouver before Canada plays Norway on Feb. 16, Yzerman likely will unite current or former teammates such Seabrook and Keith, Perry and Getzlaf, Niedermayer and Pronger, plus the three Sharks forwards.

    "We are playing against teams' top lines night in and night out, a lot of the players we are going to see," Seabrook said.

    There were surprises, though not many.

    Bypassed were Washington's Mike Green, the NHL's leading scorer among defensemen; Calgary defensemen trio Jay Bouwmeester, Robyn Regehr and Dion Phaneuf; Tampa Bay forwards Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier; Ottawa forward Mike Fisher; Philadelphia forward Jeff Carter; and Pittsburgh forward Jordan Staal, Eric's brother.

    Green has some defensive liabilities but, considering Canada's power play converted only 13 percent of its chances in Turin, his scoring ability might have been an asset.

    "He's an outstanding offensive defenseman," Yzerman said. "But we felt Drew Doughty in this case is a more complete player ... a better fit for us."

    The final forward, who wasn't identified but apparently was Bergeron, wasn't chosen until five hours before the announcement.

    "We spent hours and hours debating," Yzerman said. "There were very good players left off. But we think this is a team that will make Canadians proud. ... We're very confident in the team we've put together."

    As the team was announced at a news conference during the world junior championships in Saskatoon, large banners of each player were unfurled on a podium behind Team Canada's leaders. The midday announcement was carried on 13 Canadian TV networks and cable channels.

    Canada will be the gold-medal favorite on home ice, but in a single-elimination format once the medal round arrives, one bad day can mean the difference between winning and leaving without a medal. Belarus, with only one NHL player, upset Sweden in the 2002 quarterfinals.

    "We fully understand the expectations," Yzerman said.

    While assembling the team, Yzerman wanted coach Mike Babcock to be able to scan his bench at any time and find a player who can fix a problem. He also preferred players who perform their best against elite talent, but he didn't want too many natural centers on the wings.

    "They had the toughest job in the world," Nash said of Yzerman and aides Ken Holland, Doug Armstrong and Kevin Lowe. "Everyone always jokes that Canada could have two teams."

    With 17 of the NHL's top 30 scorers, Canada can field a virtual all-star team but, as Turin showed, that doesn't always translate into a gold medal.

    Then, executive director Wayne Gretzky brought back many of the players who won the country's first gold medal in 50 years at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. But that left off rising players such as Crosby, whose talent and fresh legs might have helped avert shutout losses to Switzerland, Finland and Russia.

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    Default Re: Crosby, Brodeur to lead Canada's Olympic team

    Chatting with Steve Yzerman about Cormier, Burrows, Team Canada and why he thinks 'Team Russia is the favorite'

    Ed. Note: No Puck Previews tonight, as we're headed to Arlington for the viewing party. Hope to see some of you there, and we'll be Tweeting about the game. Our Caps/Pens game preview is here; we'll be back with 3 Stars later tonight. Meanwhile, here's a chat between Dmitry and Stevie Y that's a good read. Enjoy.)

    I caught up with Hockey Hall of Famer and 2010 Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman after the Detroit Red Wings' loss to the Washington Capitals to talk about the Olympics, some hockey controversies and whether he thinks he could come back and play like Slava Fetisov did.

    Q. How difficult was it for you to assemble Team Canada? Was it the hardest thing you had to do?

    YZERMAN: It was very difficult. In the end, we have a very deep talent pool. We were debating between very, very good players. So, it's a good problem to have. But had some hard decisions to make.

    Would it be fair to say that one of the hardest decisions you made was not to invite Mike Green(notes)?

    Yes. He is a tremendous player. You know, we named four right defensemen. They are all very good players. We could have gone in different directions. Obviously I am hopeful that we win, and that our decisions were correct.

    What were the main criteria for you to assemble the team? The Russians, for example, said the main criteria were speed, puck movement, puck possession ...

    Yeah, basically the same things we were looking. Obviously some players play quicker than the others. But we considered guys who can play good both ends of the rink; guys who can play offensively, defensively; guys who compete hard; players with good hockey sense. Then you get into things like speed when comparing one player to another looking for reasons to pick one guy over the other. But I think we have assembled a pretty big team, a pretty skilled team that is very fast.

    You obviously saw Team Russia roster. What would you say about it?

    It is a tremendous roster. They left off some very good players as well. There are a lot of different directions they could have gone. I have watched Russia beat us at the last two World Championships for the gold medal. I know their team well. I know their players very well. And I think going into this tournament they are probably the favorite team in the Olympics.

    What do you think about the rule that you had to come up with team rosters months ahead of the tournament?

    That's the way they have set it up and I think we'd all like to be in a position where we could tinker, but that's the way it was set up and that's the way it is. If we have injuries, we're prepared to replace players. And we're fine with that.

    What team will be Team Canada's main challenger?

    I think Team Russia is the favorite to win the tournament. You mentioned Semin, Datsyuk, Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, Malkin, Fedorov. No team can match that top six up front. So, they're the defending two time World Champions. They're the team we will all want to beat.



    Have you heard about Slava Fetisov playing a game not long ago?

    Yes I did! He is an amazing guy, you know. When he came to Detroit, I think it was in 1996, people were like 'Oh, I don't know if he can play.' But he played for us another 5 years, won two Stanley Cups with us. He is such an intelligent hockey player.

    How about Steve Yzerman making a comeback with Detroit?

    No! [Laughing]

    It was a bad week for the NHL with controversies recently with video replays, one of which involved your team. What do you think is the problem? Do things like that damage hockey's image?

    I think throughout the season there are always calls that are controversial. And that's in any sport. Everybody tries to get everything right. Occasionally it goes wrong. I don't think it hurts the integrity of the game. Unfortunately, we were on the wrong side of it this time. But no matter what the system is, no matter how you interpret things or how you set things up, there will always be errors. It's unavoidable. Everybody makes mistakes.

    Could you comment on the Burrows incident?

    You know what? All I will say is that there are a lot of things that are said on the ice between players, between coaches, between referees that should stay on the ice. That's my opinion. I don't think we should be going directly to the media with things that happen. A lot of things said in the heat of the moment should just stay on the ice.

    You played in the NHL for a very long time, played some tough hockey with tough guys. I am sure you have seen the incident in the Quebec Junior league with the hit to the head. What makes players do these types of things? What do you think the league should do to stop it? Do you think there is less respect on the ice nowadays?

    I don't think there has ever been any respect. It's always been that way. Guys compete hard. There is a difference between clean hits when a player gets injured and dirty hits. On the dirty ones, or the illegal ones, you have to suspend players and come down hard on them.

    But it is a difficult thing because the game is fast, and things are happening very quickly. And a lot of times [after] a clean hit with no malicious intent a player gets hurt. I think you have to be real careful. But it is a physical, violent game that, unfortunately, guys will get hurt playing. But when one player deliberately hurts another player, the league is pretty diligent on handing out tough suspensions. All they have to do is just stick to it.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puc...urn=nhl,215048

    Video: Patrice Cormier's elbow could lead to criminal charges

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puc...urn=nhl,214200

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