Hockey Correspondent and Occasional Shakespeare Character, White Cover Magazine
It’s odd to say, but the blueline is Canada’s strongest suit at next year’s Olympics. Yes, their forwards are stacked, but it’s all about how Yzerman picks the team, not who he picks. What if he goes for passing and powerplay and the Americans and Finns again go for speed and snap shots? Canada will get picked apart. What if Yzerman panders to veterans at the end of worthy careers and what if the Russians run them over with 19-year-old ferocity?
Additionally, Canada’s goalies are suddenly the team’s most disputed area. Carey Price is a fantastic goaltender, but he’s hardly the bastion that Martin Brodeur was in 2002 or Roberto Luongo was in 2010. He’s not yet Patrick Roy and not quite Grant Fuhr. Price is an all star, but not a Hall of Famer.
Of course, Henrik Lundqvist (Sweden), Pekka Rinne (Finland), and Ryan Miller (USA) all have the potential to stone anybody at any time.
But, no… it’s Canada’s defence that is the squad’s most impenetrable section. Even better, it’s basically already picked.
Those five should all be shoo-ins, which leaves two spots up for grabs.
Brent Seabrook and Marc Staal are the favourites, and that collection gives Canada the best top seven running in Twenty-Fourteen.
But, what about the rest?
Dan Hamhuis is perhaps the best defensive player in hockey, and two other Canucks — Jason Garrison and Kevin Bieksa — could easily fill in for Seabrook or Staal.
Dion Phaneuf continues to give his career a face lift in Toronto, and the captain of Canada’s team has certainly become wiser and safer with the puck than he was in Calgary. He’s actually surpassed his former teammate Jay Bouwmeester in the NHL’s food chain.
And, what about the Rangers’ paid of Dan Girardi and Michael Del Zotto?
Canada’s best defenceman in 2010 was Dan Boyle, another Shark who has failed to grab recognition going forward. Of course, if any of the above seven falter in the next calendar year (and that includes even the likes of Keith and Doughty), it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Boyle channel Al MacInnis from 2002 and come back for yet another Olympic go.
What if Columbus’s Ryan Murray returns from injury and bi*chslaps the entire league? What if Tyler Myers has a Rookie of the Year redux sometime between now and next February?
Any way Canada’s brass goes, we know this: this team will be stacked at the back in Sochi, Russia.
Returning Defencemen for Sochi 2014…
Other Canadian Defencemen for 2014…