By Allan Muir
Maybe Steven Stamkos was lucky.
His Olympic dream wasn't his own to end. When it came time to make a decision on whether his broken leg had healed sufficiently to allow him to suit up for Team Canada, his doctors stepped in and mercifully pulled the plug.
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The decision won't be so bloodless for Henrik Sedin.
The Canucks announced this morning that they would shut down their captain for the team's final two pre-Olympic games after he was was ineffective playing through a rib injury on Tuesday night against the Bruins.
It's the right call for the team and the player. Anyone who watched the game could tell that breathing, let alone the slightest contact, was agony for Sedin. Outside of a boatload of courage, he doesn't bring much value to the table in the short term. It makes sense, then, for Vancouver to take the long view of his recovery.
But can Sedin do the same?
It won't be easy, not with the weight of a hockey-mad country on his shoulders. He's Sweden's first-line center, the focal point of the offense. And if he's willing to risk further injury for a midseason NHL game, what will he suffer for his country with Olympic gold on the line?
Sedin missed six contests after sustaining the injury against the Coyotes on Jan. 16. The thought process through his recovery was that he'd like to get into a game or two to test himself before heading to Sochi.
He tried, heroically, to make that happen. And failed. But there's still a sense he wants to go.
Jon Tortorella appreciates his player's commitment, but he's thinking long-term, too … even if there's nothing he can do to stop Sedin from going overseas.
“[Sochi] is a family matter. That is the players’ matter. That’s his country," Tortorella told reporters this morning. "I'll tell you right now, do I want him to go? Absolutely not. I’m thinking about our hockey club."
Sedin should think about the Canucks, too. And Team Sweden.
Start with Sweden. Even if he rests his ribs through the preliminary round, there are no guarantees that he'll be ready to go once the games get to single elimination. Or that questions about his health won't be a distraction to the players who are actually doing the work through those early games. It's only fair to Team Sweden to move on and give someone who is 100 percent a chance to contribute.
And what about Vancouver? The team that pays him millions of dollars is locked in a ferocious race for one of the Western Conference's final two playoff spots. There's a serious level of obligation there that he's putting at risk if he goes to Sochi, where he inevitably would aggravate the injury.
It seems like an easy call. Torts can't make it for him, but the coach knows what he's talking about. Sedin should listen.