Yzerman and Team Canada Better Not Overlook Patrice Bergeron
Team Canada is looking primed to once again make a run for the gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Like in years past, they are loaded on both the offensive and defensive sides of the puck. They are also led by Steve Yzerman, who became the executive director for Team Canada this past year.
In early July, 46 players were invited to orientation camp held in late August. Of these 46 players there were definitely some surprises, including a couple of young players, Milan Lucic and Jonathan Toews to name a few.
As usual, Team Canada is loaded on offense and there are going to be a lot of guys who are very good but just not good enough to make the team.
There were 25 forwards invited to camp. That number will eventually be trimmed down to 12 or 13 by the end of December. Currently, they are loaded at center with the likes of Sidney Crosby, Vincent Lecavalier, Jeff Carter, Eric Staal and Joe Thornton. Every one of these guys is one of the best on their team and in the NHL.
With that said, I feel Yzerman is making a big mistake in not inviting Patrice Bergeron to camp.
Bergeron was drafted by the Bruins in 2003 and made the team his first year. After the season he played for Team Canada's Under-20 team in the 2005 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. Bergeron won the MVP after notching five goals and eight assists.
In just his second season, Bergeron led the Bruins with 31 goals and finished with 71 points. He played for Team Canada after the season at the Senior Men's World Championships and again had a great performance, finishing just second in scoring to none other than Sidney Crosby. Bergeron was 20 years old at the time.
With this kind of career, it seems shocking that Bergeron wasn't invited. It's most likely because his career was almost ended after he was hit from behind, head-first into the boards early in the 2007 season. He ended up with a broken nose and a Grade III concussion and subsequently missed the rest of the season.
Since his return, though, he has been on his way back to being a premier NHL center. Bergeron leads the league in faceoff percentage, winning 58.3 percent of his draws.
His only downside this season has been his plus/minus, which is currently minus-one. This might look like a guy who doesn't play defense, but that's not the case. Bergeron is the Bruins' best penalty-killer. His forecheck constantly causes opposing players to turn the puck over and sometimes leads to shorthanded goals.
So since the roster for Team Canada's 2010 Olympic Team has not been finalized yet, the brass should take a close look at Patrice Bergeron. He will bring an intangible that some of the other guys don't have and he has a great work ethic.
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