November 02, 2017

Pucks On The 'Net: Old Canada

With less than 100 days to go until the Pyeongchang Olympics, lots of people are trying to forecast the various Olympic hockey team rosters.

Of course that has become a much more difficult - and less fun - task ever since the NHL and IOC parted ways.

Canada's roster is particularly tough for us fans to get in on, as most of the players to be selected play in Europe. Many are players we may never have heard of, with a sprinkling of "he's still playing?!" types.

I thought CBC's Tim Wharnsby came up with a pretty good prediction roster here. Barring injuries, I think Wharnsby's predictions will largely come to fruition.

One thing that really jumped out at me is the age of the Canadians. It seems the average age of the players Wharnsby mentions is quite high, most pushing 30 years or higher.

At first glance this surprised me. Hockey seems to be more than ever a young man's game now. The NHL may see the average age of it's players this season dip below 27 for the first time ever. Moreover, Canada's brain trust - Sean Burke and Dave King in particular - should remember the pre-NHL Olympic teams were built largely on youth.

Canada largely has no choice, barring a late minute deal to land a couple junior stars. The Canadians playing in Europe tend to be older, as they trade their youth for minor league bus rides and a shot at the Canadian dream of playing in the big leagues. Not too many young Canadians hockey players head to Europe without first trying the North American pro scene.

Besides, European-league veterans are a little better acquainted with the bigger international ice surface and coaching tactics.

Beyond that, the fact that so few of those players are known to us fans actually excites me. There will be many great stories about our new cast of heroes. No, it won't be the same as Sidney Crosby and Carey Price going for gold, and the stories may prove more interesting than the games themselves.

But Olympic hockey is always interesting. 

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