Let the scrutinizing begin.
The most talked about roster perhaps in hockey history was released by Hockey Canada executives Wednesday afternoon and now Canadian fans and, really, hockey fans around the globe, have a month and a half to dissect, critique and scrutinize the decisions that were ultimately made by Team Canada Executive Director Steve Yzerman.
With Doug Armstrong, Kevin Lowe, Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock sitting to his left at the dais in Saskatoon, Sask., Yzerman announced Canada's roster for the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.
He selected players with Olympic experience, but also went with a roster that has a strong flavor of youth.
Highlighting the team that is expected to compete for gold in Vancouver are the obvious choices of Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger and Martin Brodeur.
Niedermayer will be Canada's captain in Vancouver and Pronger, Crosby and Iginla will be his alternates.
Niedermayer, Pronger, Iginla and Brodeur are the remaining members of the Canadian team that won gold in Salt Lake eight years ago. It was Canada's first gold in 50 years. Crosby was not selected for the team in 2006 that finished a disappointing seventh.
"This is a pretty special honor and obviously it's been something that has been talked about for a while now so there is a lot of anticipation and I'm pretty proud to be part of it," Crosby told TSN.
Joining Crosby and Iginla up front will be Rick Nash, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Eric Staal, Jonathan Toews, Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau, Patrice Bergeron, Brenden Morrow and Mike Richards.
Niedermayer and Pronger will be joined on the back end by Shea Weber, Dan Boyle, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Drew Doughty, who at 20-years-old is the youngest player on the roster.
Brodeur will face competition for playing time from Marc-Andre Fleury and Roberto Luongo, who was with Brodeur in Torino four years ago.
"I'm dealing with the top goalies in Canada, so regardless if you think I'm going to be the No. 1, I still have to go out and prove it," Brodeur told NHL.com. "Competition in that way will be healthy and you know what, you never know. It happens quick. Games are won and lost pretty quickly in the Olympics and you need guys that want to be there to be there 100 percent mentally. I'm looking forward to that challenge. I think it keeps you accountable when you have people there to take your job."
The hype around the Olympics in Canada has been huge, and not lost on the players.
"All the pride you can think of is going to be in that building and around the country you're going to be able to feel it," Marleau told NHL.com. "It's being pumped up pretty good, but with all good intentions. It's center stage, basically."
Yzerman wound up leaving former Olympians like Vinny Lecavalier, Shane Doan, Ryan Smyth, Brad Richards, Jay Bouwmeester and Martin St. Louis off the roster. They played on Canada's disappointing team in 2006.
Mike Green and Jeff Carter were also getting serious consideration, but neither made the final cut.
Yzerman talked throughout this difficult process about how Team Canada would have a youthful appeal to it and he stayed true to his word. Twelve of the players on the 23 man roster are 25 or younger and 15 have never played in the Olympics before.
However, he also selected enough veterans with Olympic experience to guide the squad.
Brodeur and Pronger are headed to their fourth Olympic Games with Hockey Canada while Niedermayer, Nash, Iginla, Luongo, Heatley and Thornton all have Olympic experience as well.
Niedermayer had to withdraw from the 2006 Olympics due to injury.
If you wanted to project lines, Babcock could put Crosby in the middle of Nash and Iginla. That trio played together during the orientation camp in Calgary in August.
It would also seem appropriate for Babcock to put the three Sharks together since Thornton, Heatley and Marleau have already established excellent chemistry playing together inSan Jose. And, you'd expect Getzlaf and Perry will be on the same line.
Bergeron, who was the only player selected that wasn't invited to the orientation camp, also has a history of playing with Crosby. They were together in the 2005 World Junior Championship and at the 2006 World Championship.
"I think whoever you play with this group of players is going to be pretty awesome, Crosby said. "I look back to the evaluation camp this summer and I played with Rick Nash and Jarome Iginla and that was a pretty fun time for me. There is so much talent that I think making lines should be a pretty easy thing to do."
Author: Dan Rosen | NHL.com Staff Writer