Stapleton and White were Canada's best defensive pairing at the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union. In many ways it was a coming out party for the two veterans. Very quietly they formed one of the NHL's best defensive duos with the Chicago Blackhawks.
After game one Stapleton and White became Canada's most counted on defensive pairing. Why? Simple, really. The both had good mobility and puck moving skills, but every bit as importantly they were so familiar with one another from playing in Chicago for some time.
Fast forward to 2010. Canada enters the 2010 Olympics facing the most pressure any Canadian has ever faced since 1972. Canada once again will count on similar Chicago defensemen to win international hockey glory.
Somewhat quietly, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook may be the best blueline tandem in the NHL nowadays. So good that Team Canada brought them in together hoping to capitalize on their built-in chemistry, perhaps at the expense of the likes of Mike Green and Jay Bouwmeester.
These two really do remind me of Stapleton and White.
Big Seabrook is an unheralded defensive force with good mobility and great first pass, just like White. Both players had an unheralded ability to control the pace of the game. Both players had a better offensive contribution to the team than the statistics suggest.
Keith is a lot like Stapleton, blessed with great skating and more dynamic in his offensive game. Keith is not small like Stapleton, but he looks like it a bit when standing beside Seabrook.
Keith and Seabrook will be counted on heavily at the 2010 Olympics. I suspect they will stay together whenever Canada has a lead. If Canada is looking for goals late in games, Seabrook might sit down in favor of a Shea Weber or Drew Doughty.
Kudos to Canada for trying to import as much instant chemistry as possible. I've said it time and time again, the teams that gel together the quickest will be playing for a medal in late February.