You can’t take everybody.
That should be the slogan for Team Canada’s roster announcement day. No matter which combination of players was selected, a number of elite-level skaters were going to be left behind whom you could have put on the roster without blinking. It speaks to the depth within the nation.
The fact is, whichever attributes you think a certain snubbed player would have brought to the team, the roster isn’t missing it without him. Want passing, speed, scoring, defense and size? Well, this roster has all those in spades.
Still, most people are going to be surprised or disappointed in at least a couple of players being left off. After all, you could make a competitive Olympic team of Canadian leftovers. Here is our top 10 “snubs” for the 2014 Canadian Olympic roster.
10. Dan Boyle
An elite puck-mover still pulling in 21:24 of ice per night for the San Jose Sharks, Boyle was bumped off by the next generation of Canadian blueliners. A member of the 2010 team, the 37-year-old was a bubble player throughout this whole process.
9. Logan Couture
Talk about bad timing: it was announced Wednesday Couture would have surgery on an upper-body injury that would keep him out three-to-four weeks. Sharks GM Doug Wilson said he had been playing through the pain for a couple weeks, but when it didn’t heal, this was the best course of action. The injury bumped Couture further down this snubs list than if he had been passed over while completely healthy.
8. Mike Richards
When I took my final stab at a Canadian roster yesterday it was painful to not include Richards. The guy is a winner up and down and someone you can rely on in any situation. The Canadian team’s desire to have a speedy roster likely played against him (and the fact his offense is down), but he would have fit in nicely at the same time.
7. Corey Crawford
Before you start yelling, I’m not advocating Crawford for the No. 1 or 2 spot on the roster, but as the No. 3 guy. His save percentage is similar to Mike Smith’s, he just won a Cup last June and regularly gets the job done behind a stacked team of his own. In case an injury removes Carey Price or Roberto Luongo from the mix, I’d rather turn to Crawford than Smith. Remember what happened to Bryzgalov once he left Phoenix? That’s what worries me.
6. James Neal
In his past 77 NHL games (regular season and playoffs), Neal has 43 goals. Not many guys can do that. He doesn’t play with Crosby as often as Chris Kunitz, but he has played with him. All this, in my opinion, makes him a better option on Crosby’s wing, if you’re obsessed with chemistry. Not many players can hit 40-plus goals in fewer than 80 games.
5. Brent Seabrook
Let’s get this one out of the way: Seabrook can get on this team even without Duncan Keith. This isn’t a Kunitz scenario. It seems Seabrook was done in by the desire for a lefty-righty split on the blueline and was pushed off by the much more controversial pick of Dan Hamhuis.
4. Eric Staal
Man, it doesn’t take much for commenters to start peeing in Eric Staal’s Corn Flakes. He’s on pace for about 70 points, which is the same total he got in 2011-12. In fact, for the past eight seasons, a good year for Staal would be if he put up five or six more points than what he’s currently on pace for. That’s it. Yet, all you hear about is how poorly he’s been playing. More realistically, Staal was bitten by another slow start, but has bounced back much the same way he did in 2011-12. He has 26 points in his past 26 games, which is exactly what you can expect from him. He also gets a fair amount of shorthanded time, can play the wing, skates like the wind, has size…but never mind all that. Thirty-five points in 42 games? Must be awful.
3. Joe Thornton
The NHL’s assist leader is one of the most marvelous hockey players on the planet, but, kind of like what happened with Boyle, Canada moved on to a younger generation of centers. Skating and speed were being touted as major factors for building this team in the weeks and months leading up to the roster release, attributes that just so happen to be weaknesses for Thornton. It’s so hard to leave a player off who has so much left to give, but that’s part of picking Team Canada.
2. Martin St-Louis
The fact St-Louis’ NHL GM was also the one with the final say in picking Team Canada was expected to have some – although minor – influence on his fate, but a case for his inclusion cuts much deeper than that connection. St-Louis just won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer last season, is a speedy waterbug, a determined player and plays regularly with Steven Stamkos, when he’s in the lineup. St-Louis did not make Canada’s 2010 entry, so it would have been quite the story had he made it in 2014 as a 38-year-old.
1. Claude Giroux
If there were a 2012 or 2013 Winter Olympics, Giroux would have been a lock for Team Canada, which is what makes this snub so shocking. He scored 93 points just two seasons ago and was about a point-per-game player last year with Philadelphia. But an atrocious start to this season couldn’t be surmounted with his explosive play of late. Now we find a skater who some considered the best player in the world as recently as 12 months ago off Team Canada’s roster.