This is it.
Less than one week remains until Steve Yzerman and his management team unveil Team Canada during an hour-long announcement in Saskatoon. The Olympic executives are down to a couple final decisions that will be made just before the Dec. 30 announcement.
With only 23 players getting an invite to Vancouver, there’s going to be plenty of room for debate over the final selections. Almost every Canadian hockey fan will have his or her own opinion.
It promises to be a major event.
“When you take a look at the selections, guys will be disappointed, guys will be really happy, there’ll be surprises, there’ll be people complaining about certain picks — that’s the beauty of this,” said goalie Martin Brodeur, a lock to make his fourth Olympic team. “Especially in our country, I think it’s something that people are living and dying with. This is the ultimate for hockey.”
With Yzerman set to make his final decisions, we’re doing the same. The Canadian Press has been picking its own Team Canada once a month since February and we’ve settled on the list of guys we believe should get the call for the final time.
It wasn’t easy. There are literally dozens of qualified hockey players that have been left off our roster — a group that is all-but certain to differ from the one Yzerman announces on Dec. 30.
In the words of Brodeur: “that’s the beauty of this.” Let the Games begin.
Martin Brodeur (New Jersey): At age 37, he’s just as competitive and driven as he was a decade ago.
Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh): Here’s Brodeur’s take on Fleury: “He’s played some of the biggest games of any other goalie that plays in this league in the last few years.” As a result, Fleury is our No. 2.
Roberto Luongo (Vancouver): Will the hometown fans get to see him in action?
Scott Niedermayer (Anaheim): A tough season could get a whole lot better with a gold medal.
Chris Pronger (Philadelphia): One of the guys looking to erase the memory of Turin.
Dan Boyle (San Jose): Will finally get the call after the disappointment of being left out in 2006.
Shea Weber (Nashville): A rugged player and B.C. boy.
Duncan Keith (Chicago): On pace for another career year offensively.
Brent Seabrook (Chicago): A comfortable fit in a pairing with Keith.
Drew Doughty (Los Angeles): At 20, he’s the youngest player on our roster. We like him in the seventh spot ahead of Jay Bouwmeester and Mike Green.
Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh): He’s been answering questions about the Vancouver Games for four years.
Rick Nash (Columbus): Was held to just one assist at the 2006 Games. He’ll need to produce more this time.
Jarome Iginla (Calgary): Make it three straight Olympics for the Flames captain.
Dany Heatley (San Jose): Would be the 11th different event where he’s worn the Maple Leaf. Impressive.
Joe Thornton (San Jose): Was thrilled when Don Cherry spoke out in support of the Sharks trio.
Patrick Marleau (San Jose): Played his way onto our roster with a great start to the season.
Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay): He can step up and play on the top line or fill a depth role.
Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim): A player who will need to accept a different role than the one he has with the Ducks.
Corey Perry (Anaheim): An agitator and competitor. Familiarity with Getzlaf is a bonus.
Brendan Morrow (Dallas): A nice physical player that should thrive in a checking role.
Mike Richards (Philadelphia): We give him the nod over Mike Fisher and Patrice Bergeron, two guys that have played their way into the conversation among the Canadian management team.
Jordan Staal (Pittsburgh): An underrated player who can kill penalties, shutdown dynamic opponents and play centre or the wing.
Jonathan Toews (Chicago): One of six NHL captains on our Team Canada.