I love Roberto Luongo. But I don’t think he needs my defence or my promotion.
He won a gold medal in 2010. On Vancouver ice. Back when a Stanley Cup in Vancouver was a chance on the horizon, not a memory in the rear view mirror. That was four years ago – that’s forever in the hockey world. It was before Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane had won even one Stanley Cup championship, and certainly before any of us knew who Corey Crawford was.
But a lot’s changed, and Crawford has excelled in the kind of situation few goalies can handle. He’s the last line of defence on the best team in hockey, and Canada will need the same sort of tender in Sochi.
They don’t need a guy who’s going to stop 35 shots a game. That’s what Ryan Miller or Jonathan Quick will do for Team USA… that’s what they’ll have to do.
They don’t need a guy like Henrik Lundqvist, who needs to match Sweden’s calm and calculated attack with his own stability and size.
Canada doesn’t need what other countries need. They need a guy who doesn’t need to prove himself to anybody. They need a guy who will stop the five chances a game he sees, and they’ll all be challenging.
They don’t just need a guy who’s won a Stanley Cup… they need a guy who could win one again this year.
Canadians are fatally flawed when it comes to their hockey knowledge. Mainly, it’s because they know too much and they think about it too much – like the guy who watches college basketball every day but somehow finishes in the middle of the pack in his March Madness pool every single year.
Canadians are loyal to past champions, which is silly. Sure, you want to give some of them a chance to coat their fingers in gold, but the Olympics happen once every four years.
If you win, you play a maximum of six games, meaning you don’t need an 82-game goalie or even a playoff goalie. You need a series goalie.
You don’t need someone who wins on points or with the judges… you need someone who’s going to jab quick and win with a late-round knockout.
It’s why Joe Thornton, Martin St. Louis, guys like that have such trouble sticking in national colours. And it’s why Patrick Kane and Ryan Kesler tormented Canada in two games against Team USA in 2010.
Corey Crawford knows what it’s like to play on a team that can’t afford for him to make any mistakes.
That’s why he’s perfect for Team Canada. That’s why he doesn’t just deserve a shot: he deserves a starring role.