Joe Thornton (left) and Brent Burns (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
With the addition of the final seven players to the roster, Canada’s team for the World Cup of Hockey just got a lot hairier. And if the San Jose Sharks can manage to win the Stanley Cup, you’ll have to wear sunglasses in the dressing room just to deal with the bling from the Stanley Cups and Olympic gold medals.
The additions of the hirsute Joe Thornton and Brent Burns should come as no surprise to anyone who has watched this year’s playoffs. Both enter the Stanley Cup final as legitimate frontrunners to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, but they were also dominant in the regular season for the Sharks. In the case of Thornton, this was most certainly not a feel-good bone-throw to a guy who has been a class act and outstanding player for a long time. Thornton has earned every bit of this and has proved that even though he’ll be 37 – and will be Canada’s oldest skater - when the tournament begins, he can still play an effective game at both ends of the ice and remains one of the league’s elite passers.
As for Burns, there was absolutely no way GM Doug Armstrong could keep him off this roster. He’s a Norris Trophy finalist on merit and has 20 points in 18 playoff games. His ability to skate or pass the puck out of trouble and his penchant for creating offense simply could not be ignored. And the Burns choice came at the expense of P.K. Subban, as it should have. Both are right shots and team management was simply not going to have more than four righties on the roster. If you look at the most recent bodies of work, it’s impossible to put Subban over Burns, Drew Doughty or Shea Weber and very difficult to put him ahead of Alex Pietrangelo, who was also a final addition. Shooting right was also what kept Kris Letang off the team.
Jake Muzzin, who shoots left, was the other addition on defense and has excellent chemistry with Doughty on the blueline for the Los Angeles Kings. But it’s still something of a surprise considering the likes of Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie and Jay Bouwmeester were available among left-handed shooters.
Up front, in addition to Thornton, Canada added Matt Duchene, Brad Marchand and Claude Giroux to the roster. Hard to argue with any of those choices, particularly if Canada wins the tournament, but it’s difficult to fathom what more Logan Couture could have done to make this team. All he’s doing is leading the playoffs in assists and points in the playoffs. And even though he had a sub-par season and playoff and is getting up there, Corey Perry was a notable omission from the roster.
Should the Sharks win the Stanley Cup, Canada will have nine players who have been on teams that have won the past three Stanley Cups. If the Penguins win the Cup, that number drops to seven. If the Sharks win, 14 of the 23 players on it will have won a Stanley Cup and 15 who have won an Olympic gold medal – not including Steven Stamkos, who was awarded a gold for 2014 in Sochi despite not playing in the tournament due to injury.
Here’s Canada’s roster in its entirety, with the seven additions in bold type:
Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks
Jake Muzzin, Los Angeles Kings
Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose Sharks
Shea Weber, Nashville Predators
Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
John Tavares, New York Islanders
Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks