|Steve Yzerman and Martin St. Louis. Confidence destroyed?|
I don't do it often, but once a year is not an indulgence.
On Tuesday we were treated to the final list of players selected to represent Canada at next month's Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
I've no doubt that the group put forward by those charged with making the difficult decision is eminently capable of delivering the goods, but....
Last week, Don Cherry ripped into Hockey Canada for choosing too many junior players based on provenience, (read ..Quebec) rather than taking the best players available for the World Junior Championships in Sweden where Canada came away with air, not even a bronze medal.
I don't know if it's true that there were too many players from the Quebec league, perhaps it was just a case of sour 'Grapes.'
But nobody can accuse Steve Yzerman and the rest of Team Canada managers of playing favourites or basing selections on demographics, politics or language, the team is clearly missing francophones and Quebecers, if one was to consider pure demographics.
Quebec placed just three players, where the math would say they should have placed almost 6, while the western provinces placed eleven, when demographics indicated that they should have 9 and Ontario placed eleven, against the 9.5 that demographics would indicate.
Worse still is the francophone contribution to the team, placing just two members against the six that demographics would indicate.
So there's no rumbling to be made over Quebec or Francophone favouritism here, in fact the opposite argument might be made by Francophones, that they were somehow shafted.
Now the only bone of contention is the omission of Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning from the roster, who in my opinion should have made the team and could easily have replaced Rick Nash or Jeff Carter, his numbers are way better.
Just yesterday, the day Team Canada snubbed St. Louis, he potted another two goals in Winnipeg.
Now St. Louis may be small, but in an over-sized Olympic rink, his attributes, speed and finesse would blossom and the emphasis on big and rugged players that seems to be the NHL formula doesn't match up as importantly on big ice surfaces.
Clearly St. Louis was a bubble player, but the negative effect of leaving him off the team, should have persuaded Yzerman et al to include him.
If Canada comes away with anything but a gold medal you can be sure that Yzerman will be scapegoated for the St.Louis snub and will never again be involved with Team Canada.
If one of the three players that St. Louis might have placed before, Rick Nash, Jeff Carter or Chris Kunitz fails to produce, the naysayers will emerge in force, especially if Canada fails to defend its gold medal.
So far, reaction in the French media has been surprisingly mild, nothing more vociferous than the complaints in the English press about the St. Louis omission.
The one exception was a stinging rebuke, written by Tom Jones for the Tampa Bay Times, which warned Steve Yzerman that his decision to snub St. Louis will come back to haunt him and hurt the Lightning, the team St. Louis plays for and for which Yzerman is the GM.
Read the article, it's pretty good. Link
At any rate, I'm going to take the very unpopular position that when faced with a choice of bubble players who are six of one or half a dozen of the other, a toss up, so to speak, consideration should be given to evening up the team demographically.
Let us remember that this is a national team.
Moving along and in anticipation of many negative comments in relation to the above position, I want to congratulate the Montreal Canadiens for sending an amazing eight players to the Olympics, the most of any Canadian team. I could not have been happier for the selection of Canadiens backup goalie Peter Budaj, who is joining the Slovakian team, probably to play his familiar role, this time behind Jaroslac Halak.
Budaj is the very model of a team player and has enthusiastically fulfilled his role with dedication, talent and an abundance of good cheer.
At any rate, the omission of Martin St. Louis on Team Canada and in fact the omission of Bobby Ryan by Team USA, may be a mistake based only on the fact that it has injected some serious second-guessing which may come into play and hurt confidence should the teams have some difficulty early.
Shoulda, woulda, coulda.....
I really have no faith in Roberto Luongo as number one, who never was a clutch player.
Yes he won the game where Canada won the gold metal in overtime in 2010, but let in a softie just the same.
As for softies, I cannot believe the performance of Toronto netminder Jonathan Bernier last night against the Islanders.
Bernier allowed two horrific softies and a slap shot from outside the blue line, as well as a wrister from the blue line.
When asked if he was grateful that he wasn't pulled in an interview after the game, Bernier asked the reporter to explain exactly why the reporter believed he should have been pulled. It was really surreal.
You can't win with that type of goaltending in the NHL and the Leafs should have paid the big bucks to Luongo when they had a chance.
While Luongo is not, in my opinion, a great playoff goalie, he is as solid as they come during the regular season and that is what the Leafs are in desperate need of.
Bernier is the king of the softies....Watch and wince..... Link 1 Link 2
And that readers, is it for hockey for a good long time.....