Canada heads to Sochi looking to defend their Olympic gold medal championship from 2010. In order to do so they are bringing back 11 players from the Vancouver games.
Here is the roster, followed by a list of notable omissions.
Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks (NHL)
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (NHL)
Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes (NHL)
Jay Bouwmeester, St. Louis Blues (NHL)
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings (NHL)
Dan Hamhuis, Vancouver Canucks (NHL)
Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks (NHL)
Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues (NHL)
P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens (NHL)
Marc-Édouard Vlasic, San Jose Sharks (NHL)
Shea Weber, Nashville Predators (NHL)
Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars (NHL)
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins (NHL)
Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings (NHL)
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL)
Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche (NHL)
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks (NHL)
Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL)
Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks (NHL)
Rick Nash, New York Rangers (NHL)
Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks (NHL)
Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks (NHL)
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL)
John Tavares, New York Islanders (NHL)
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks (NHL)
Notable omissions from the squad in at forward include Claude Giroux, Taylor Hall, James Neal, Joe Thornton, Eric Staal, Martin St. Louis, Logan Couture, and defencemen Dan Boyle and Brent Seabrook.
Here are some thoughts:
- I love the inclusion of Jeff Carter. He's strong in all facets of the game - power play, penalty kill, faceoffs. He can play C or RW. He gives coach Mike Babcock a lot of options.
- Same goes with Patrice Bergeron who, like in 2010, will likely move all around the line-up depending on the situation. Patrick Marleau is another.
- Chris Kunitz won over his critics and was included. A lot of people assume he is there only because he plays in the NHL with Sidney Crosby. Steve Yzerman is really big on entering the tournament with whatever pre-built chemistry he can find, but don't forget Kunitz played for Babcock in Anaheim. Not only that, but Kunitz played lots with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry
- Dan Hamhuis is still a surprise to me, but Babcock really wanted 4 left handed defensemen. That worked in Hamhuis' favor, as did Hamhuis life in Nashville when he was regularly teamed with Shea Weber.
- Claude Giroux and Logan Couture are my biggest surprises in terms of omissions. Couture's hand surgery may have played a role here.
- Matt Duchene still remains my biggest question mark. He has great speed for the big ice and can provide offense. He's a conscientious defensive player but he doesn't kill penalties and isn't a noted faceoff guy. His offense isn't of the John Tavares level. I will be interested to see where he fits in.
Team Canada's Olympic hockey team is probably the toughest team in the world - in any sport - to make. The second guessing will go on for weeks. If Canada doesn't win gold, the second guessing will go on for months.