Team Canada may come to miss Marc Savard in Vancouver
There is a truism that Canada could field two hockey teams at an Olympics and have swell medal chances with both, an adage that was reinforced when general manager
Given the surfeit of Canadian hockey talent, which does not exceed Russia in dazzling high-end offensive skill but surely does in depth, the questions in The Land of 30 Million General Managers -- the motto is stamped on the $2 coin -- invariably revolve around not who gets invited to a camp (or the team) for the 2010 Vancouver Games, but who doesn't.
In 1998, Team Canada GM
An Olympic team can't be merely a collection of all-stars, but a semblance of an actual team -- hence Yzerman's invitations to banging Boston winger
In 2002, Team Canada GM
Canada seemed like it was trying to win the World Cup for a second time at those Olympics, but in making his decision then, Gretzky noted that Crosby surely would be the fulcrum of future Olympic teams. He was prescient. Crosby, who turns 22 next month, might even be in line for the captaincy, although
This time, as always, there are nits to be picked, cavils to be caviled. Detroit goalie
There are three Staals going to Calgary -- forwards Eric and Jordan and defenseman Marc. I might have been tempted to invite two-time Olympian
There is only one important slight:
Savard was the ninth leading scorer in the NHL last season (25 goals and 63 assists for the Bruins, the best regular-season team in the Eastern Conference), but he was the fourth-highest Canadian-born scorer behind Crosby,
No, Savard is pretty much a one-trick pony, but it is really kind of a neat trick. He is a superb passer, perhaps the most gifted in the NHL. He helped linemate
When I mentioned this possibility to a confidante's of Yzerman on Wednesday, he scoffed. "There's plenty of power play guys," he said as if I had lost my mind.
True enough. But in Turin, Canada stalled, missing the medal round because those very guys, including
In a conference call on Thursday, Yzerman said Savard's omission had nothing to do with the center's past reluctance to step into the Hockey Canada tent -- by his own estimation, Savard has declined "four or five" invitations to represent his country at the world championships -- but because "at the end of the day, we wanted to bring in different types of players, not necessarily guys who were leading their teams in scoring but guys who can fill different roles ... That's why Marc's not on the list."
There is a long way to go to pare the roster from 46 to 23 for next February. The only way we will know if Yzerman picked the right team is if Canada wins the tournament. (In hockey, there is only one color medal as far as most Canadians are concerned.) But in conscientiously identifying role players, Yzerman might have omitted, at least for now, a one-way player who could fill the most elemental role in the game.