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Lowe has watchful eye on potential Olympians

by Dan Rosen
WASHINGTON -- Wearing his Hockey Canada chapeau (figuratively speaking, of course), Kevin Lowe was perched in the Verizon Center press box Thursday night to take in the entertaining clash between the San Jose Sharks and Washington Capitals.
There's a good chance he'll be coming to a press box near you sometime soon as well.
Lowe, one of three associate directors under Steve Yzerman for the Canadian Men's National team, was here to scout potential Olympians like Washington's Mike Green and San Jose's quartet of Dan Boyle, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley.
It was the 12th game he's seen in a season that is only 14 days old. He has plenty more ahead of him before the Olympic team is selected sometime in December.
"It's about getting an idea of what we want in terms of some of these guys, where we figure they'll play," Lowe, also the president of the Edmonton Oilers, told "You know they're all great players, but you want to watch their compete level, how they make plays situationally.
"It's interesting to see the game tonight; the Sharks are down and Patty Marleau seems to be the most obvious of the Sharks," he continued. "He's working hard and trying to be a difference maker. Those are all things that factor into what we're looking for."
Lowe and fellow associates Doug Armstrong and Ken Holland have been tasked by Yzerman to scout as many games as possible. It's easier on Lowe and Armstrong than on Holland, who has to tend to the day-to-day operations of the Detroit Red Wings.
Their eyes are focused on the 46 players who were invited to the orientation camp in Calgary this past August, but Lowe said they can't help but notice other players as well.
"We get out, watch the players, and report on them by assessing who looks good and who was standing out amongst these guys," Lowe said. "Certainly the guys that were invited to the camp are our main focus, but we have to be cognizant of the fact that there will be potentially guys having good seasons and we don't want to eliminate them."
While Lowe was in Washington, Armstrong was in Nashville, where he saw Olympic hopefuls like the Predators' Shea Weber and Chicago's Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.
Meanwhile, Holland was home in Detroit watching his Red Wings beat up on the Los Angeles Kings, 5-2. There, he got to see his own guy, Dan Cleary, along with Kings' defenseman Drew Doughty and left wing Ryan Smyth, among others.
Wednesday night, Lowe and Armstrong were together in Chicago to see Lowe's Oilers take on the Blackhawks. Tuesday night, Armstrong and Lowe were in Columbus to see Rick Nash and Steve Mason play against Calgary, which has hopefuls Jay Bouwmeester, Dion Phaneuf, Jarome Iginla and Robyn Regehr.
Lowe, in fact, said he's seen the Blue Jackets and Flames on multiple occasions already this season.
"There are very few games that there is not at least one guy in the game," Lowe said. "And, if you can get together a few times, which we plan on doing between now and selection time, it's just easier when you watch the games together and see the players together."
The travel, of course, is quite hectic and different from what Lowe is used to, but he planned for it over the summer and is trying to make the most of his trips.
For instance, the Oilers have an upcoming trip east for games in Boston and New York, so Lowe plans to be at both and will also see games in between.
Edmonton comes back toward the Atlantic in mid-November to play Ottawa, Buffalo, Atlanta and Columbus. Lowe will be on that weeklong trip, and has plans to see a game a night.
"I can see a game pretty much every night and not have to travel far in the east," Lowe said.
All the scouting should also benefit the Oilers' exec when he returns to the normal grind of his day-to-day job back home in Edmonton. He'll have a much better perspective and ability to evaluate players that he wouldn't normally get to see in person.
"You can never get out and watch enough games, enough players," he said. "You need to be in the building watching players. With the eventuality of a trade or free agency down the road, either this year or next or the one after, it just gives you the image you need. It's helpful, no question.
"We're going to name the team sometime in later December, so it's really two or three months of hard scouting, which you're happy to do anyway."
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