Olympic Roster Breakdown: Surprising Decisions Made By Team Canada

By Lucas Seymour

Canada will defend its men's hockey gold in the Sochi, Russia 2014 Olympic Games.
“Since when did the US start playing hockey?”

Team Canada has recently announced its 25 man roster for the 2014 winter games in Sochi. It is built with a core of players from the gold medal team of Vancouver 2010, with some new, fresh faces filling out the rest of the roster. Some arguably surprising choices were made by team Canada in the selection process, as the likes of several surefire lock-ons were snubbed, and questionable players were selected by general manager Steve Yzerman.

The philosophy of team Canada’s management for these games, as said by Peter Chiarelli, is “Speed, experience, and speed.” This raised the question as to why on earth Martin St. Louis was left off the roster. The lightning star is recognized as one of the quickest, shiftiest players in the NHL. At the age of 38, he shows no signs of slowing down. Last season, although shortened by the lockout, St Louis led the league in points, and is currently sitting at a point per game this season (49 in 49), which can be attributed to a 4 goal effort put on last saturday against the Sharks. It shouldn’t be forgotten that he’s doing this all without superstar Steven Stamkos (out indefinitely with a broken leg), which makes the feat all the more impressive. This, in itself, is bound to confuse some people, but when you add in the fact that Steve Yzerman is both the general manager of team Canada and also the general manager of Tampa Bay, it makes the decision all the more shocking.

On the other end of the spectrum, there has been some debate regarding the selection of Chris Kunitz on the roster. Looking at the numbers, it seems it would be a fairly unanimous choice to have him on; his 49 points in 48 games puts him in the top 10 highest scorers in the NHL. Additionally, his plus 24 rating has him at sixth in the NHL. However, there has been much debate as to whether or not his production is directly attributed to the fact that he is line mates with Sidney Crosby. Some say he wouldn’t produce nearly as much without him. This may be true, but since the Olympics is a two week, 7 game tournament, some immediate chemistry would be beneficial for any team.

While on the topic of chemistry, I’d like to talk about the exclusion of Brent Seabrook from the team. Now, this comes as a real surprise to me. Standing at 6 foot 3 and 220 pounds, Seabrook is a talent in the defensive zone – his plus 25 rating, the second best in the league, shows this. This by no means hinders his offensive ability, as Seabrook boasts 33 points in 55 games, impressive numbers for a defenseman. Team Canada could also use some hard nosed defensive play, as the roster seems to lean more on skilled, offensive skating defenseman. Although this type of d-man may be ideal on the Olympic rink and in international play (which has more emphasis on skill), the back end for Canada seems to weigh heavy on the offensive side, which may lead to some issues defensively. Lastly, there seems to be some irony in the situation. Kunitz was selected much because of his chemistry with Crosby, so why wasn’t Seabrook selected based on his chemistry with Keith? Looking at the numbers, the two make one of the most formidable pairings in the league, which for sure would translate into beneficial results for team Canada.