Eric Staal celebrates with Jonathan Toews and Corey Perry after scoring against the U.S. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
If Team Canada is to stir up a rallying cry at the Olympics, they’ll need every voice on site to contribute.
The path to gold got a bit longer than Canada had hoped for after they lost to the Americans Sunday, but that doesn’t mean all is lost for a team that has more than enough talent to overcome a setback or two.
If there’s one problem Canada seems to run into at best-on-best events like the Olympics, it’s that a lot of players end up looking down the bench, wondering what the other wonderful players on the roster are going to do to help the team win.
With so many high-end guys in red and white, some skaters just never seem fully comfortable taking the bull by the horns and dictating the terms of the game, something the majority of them do quite frequently with their NHL teams.
There have been non-hesitant exceptions, starting with Sidney Crosby, otherwise known as the undeniable face of Canadian hockey. On defense, Duncan Keith has been Canada’s best blueliner and 20-year-old Drew Doughty isn’t far behind. That’s good news for a team that isn’t getting near the mileage it anticipated it would from veterans Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer.
What Canada needs to fully engage and get on the winning track is more people playing like it’s their team and their responsibility to ensure the results follow. That isn’t to suggest the squad needs 20 guys out there trying to do everything themselves; it’s more about employing a take-charge mental approach, no matter what your role on the team.
Should Canada fall short in its championship quest, the questions about player selection will begin seconds after another country’s anthem is played.
Certainly there can be some healthy debate about whether a guy like Tampa Bay’s Martin St-Louis or offense-minded blueliner Mike Green of the Washington Capitals should have been included on the club, but who would ever argue that Canada – as is, down to the last guy on the roster right now
– doesn’t have the charges to take control of this tournament?
The opportunity is still there; it’s just up to every Canadian player there to seize it.
Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears Wednesdays.
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