With the 2010 winter games in Vancouver not that far away, I would like to take the time and break down the Men's Ice Hockey event. This is the biggest event in hockey and with the time leading up to it I will be breaking down the big six (Canada, USA, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Czech).
Part 1: Team Canada.
If your from Canada, odds are you're a hockey fan. Odds are you have been making potential line combinations while lying in bed and thinking about who will make the squad while your significant other is trying to talk to you. Well here it is, my potential starting squad for the 2010 Winter Games:
Center: Marc Savard Sidney Crosby Vincent Lecavalier - Joe Thornton - Left Wing: Simon Gagne - Shane Doan - Rick Nash - Dany Heatley - Right Wing: Jarome Iginla - Martin St. Louis - Jonathan Cheechoo - Patrick Sharp - Defensemen: Chris Pronger - Dion Phaneuf - Mike Green - Dan Boyle - Jay Bouwmeester - Brian Campbell - Goalie: Roberto Luongo - Martin Broduer Chris Osgood - Reserves: Ryan Getzlaf (C) - Brenden Morrow Scott Niedermayer (D) - Making Their Case: Eric Stall (C) - Brad Richards (C) Paul Stastny (C) - Mike Richards (C) - Paul Kariya Corey Perry (RW) - Devin Setoguchi (RW) J.P. Dumont (RW) - Brent Burns (D) - Shea Weber (D) - Long Shots: Mike Ribeiro (C) Jason Spezza (C) Jonathan Toews (C) - Danny Briere (C) - Michael Cammalleri (LW) - Brad Boys (RAW) - Mike Knobble (RAW) - Drew Doughty (D) - Sheldon Souray (D) - Bryan Mccabe (D) - Wade Redden (D) - Sean Avery (LW) - Joe Sakic (C) -
Marc Savard- The most underrated player in the NHL. The past three season's he has averaged more then a point per game and is on pace for a potential MVP 09' campaign. In my opinion, the best setup man in the game.
Sidney Crosby- All you Crosby hater's say what you will, the kid can play. He has an Art Ross and Hart trophy to back that up. He has a spot already locked.
Vincent Lecavalier -One of the shiftiest players with the puck and a pure scorer. He won the "Rocket" Richard Trophy in 2007 and has a Stanley Cup ring. Has scored 30+ goals the last 5 NHL seasons, with a 52 goal campaign in 07'.
Joe Thornton -What can you say about Big Joe? Art Ross and Hart trophy winner in 06', two campaigns of 100+ points, and a dominate force along the boards. His lack of playoff production kind of worries me.
Simon Gagne -We can only pray that Gagne will stay healthy. The last season he only played 25 games due to a concussion. Has had a great start this year with 11 goals and 11 assists in 16 games. One of the fastest skaters in the game and the ability score at ease. Keep your head up Simon!
Shane Doan -Doan is the definition of heart and determination. One of the best leaders in the game and he has skill to back it up. Canada needs more players like Doan, he can score, pass and more importantly throw the body around. I expect the European players to be looking over their shoulder's when Doan is on the ice.
Rick Nash -This guy can stick handle in a phone booth. He has so much offensive skill it is scary. Rocket Richard Trophy winner in 04', and three 30+ goal seasons in a young and bright career.
Dany Heatley -Interesting fact, Heatley was born in Freiburg im Breisgau, West Germany and he currently holds a dual citizen ship between Germany and Canada. Lucky for us Canadians, IIHF rules mandate that a player may not switch countries once he has already competed for one, I think Dany made the right choice. Heatley is the best sniper in the game, two 50 goal seasons, two 41 goal seasons and the quickest release in the game.
Jarome Iginla -Pound for Pound the best player in the game. Iggy can make a defender look stupid, score a beautiful goal, drop the gloves with the defenseman he just beat then shake the guy's hand. I am voting Iginla to be wearing the "C" for the 2010 games.
Martin St. Louis -St.Louis is perfect for Olympic hockey, his speed and stick handling can only get better on the bigger ice surface. Expect St.Louis to make the cut and play along side teammate Lacavalier.
Jonathan Cheechoo -Cheechoo is one of the elite snipers in the game, but has had a horrible start to the 08'-09' season with only 4 goals. I expect Cheecoo to bounce back and have a solid finish to end of the season. He has scored 20+ goals in the last 4 seasons including a 56 goal campaign in 05'-06' where he won the Rocket Richard Trophy. Expect to see Cheechoo make this team because of the chemistry between him and Joe Thornton.
Patrick Sharp -It's hard putting Sharp in this category with so many quality right winger's available. However, I think Sharp has and will earn his spot on the roster. Last season he put up 36 goals including 7 short handed. This guy can play defence, kill penalties and throw the body around.
Chris Pronger -His credentials speak for themselves. He won the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player in the 1999-2000 season and was the first defenseman to win the award since Bobby Orr in 1972. A 5-time All-Star and Stanley Cup champion, he has proven that big defensemen can survive in the new NHL.
Dion Phaneuf -A winger's worst nightmare, Phaneuf is just a monster and can intimidate any opposing player. A power play specialist with one of the hardest shots in the game. A two time All-Star in only 3 NHL seasons, I see this guy winning the Norris Trophy in the near future.
Mike Green -Probably the best defensemen in the league when it comes to generating offence. Had a break out season last year registering 18 goals and 56 points. He has great speed and makes smart decisions with the puck in his own end. He is currently nursing a shoulder injury he sustained playing Anaheim when Chris Pronger laid him out. We need to stop the Canadian on Canadian violence.
Dan Boyle -Boyle is a very consistent player and will be a valuable veteran on the blue line. He has Stanley Cup experience and is the top defenseman for the best team in the league, San Jose.
Jay Bouwmeester -This kid is a work horse. At only 25 years of age he led the league last season averaging 27:28 minutes per game, this season 28:28 minutes. Expect him to be Canada's top penalty killer and go to guy in key situations. I just wish he could get some playoff experience down in Florida.
Brian Campbell -Campbell is solid both defensively and offensively. He has averaged 40 or more points the past three season with a huge 62 point campaign last year. Averaging 26:07 of ice time per game this year, Campbell is the go to guy on the blue line down in CHI Town.
Roberto Luongo -Luongo is in his prime, and will be playing in front of the Vancouver faithful. He has single handily helped the Canucks climb atop their division. With Broduer having surgery earlier this season, I give the starting job to Luongo.
Martin Broduer- If he hadn't got hurt this season he would most likely be my starter but Luongo has just played way to good. Broduer will be back either late this season or next season and will pick up right where he left off.
Chris Osgood -Most people would have Marty Turco or Carey Price in this spot. Turco has had a horrible start this season and Price hasn't proved himself yet. I bring Osgood along just because he has so much experience in big games, just ask his three Stanley Cup rings.
Ryan Getzlaf (C) -Expect to see Getzlaf make the team, either as a reserve or they can move Lecavalier to the Wing.
Brenden Morrow(LW) - Similar playing style to Shane Doan, you can never have enough player's like this. He is such a great leader they took the "C" right of the jersey of Mike Modano and gave it to Morrow.
Scott Niedermayer (D) -Who knows what Niedermayer will be doing in 2010. Hopefully he will still be playing, I'll put him on the reserve list for now.
Making Their Case:These players will make a strong push for their spot on the roster.
Eric Stall (C) -Has had a slow start this year with only 10 points in 19 games. However, his experience with winning the Stanley Cup in 06' is valuable, not to mention the kid is a horse, he has missed only one game his entire 4 year career.
Brad Richards (C)- This is interesting. We all know Brad can handle the pressure in the big games, he proved this in 04' by winning the Conn Smythe Trophy. It's hard to say where he fits in on the squad, might want to bring him along just for his defensive play and leadership.
Paul Stastny (C) -back to back 20+ goal seasons in his rookie and sophomore year. This kid is quickly becoming a superstar, only question is will he be ready come Vancouver.
Mike Richards (C) -He is the captain in Philly for a reason. He plays against opposing teams top players and shuts them down. Great at both ends of the rink.
Paul Kariya(LW) - It's tough putting Kariya under this category. He is a 7-time All-Star but he is also getting on in years.
Corey Perry (RW) -Former Memorial Cup MVP with the London Knights, Perry is starting to heat up down in Anaheim with 23 points in 20 games. Playing along side Getzlaf, Perry will make a strong push to crack the starting roster.
Devin Setoguchi (RW)- If this kid keeps putting the puck in the net he just might replace Cheecoo as the premier sniper down in San Jose. 22 points in 20 games to start this season, Setoguchi needs to stay hot in order to be a serious contender for this team.
J.P. Dumont (RW) -The former 3rd overall pick in the 96' entry draft has not disappointed. He has six 20+ goal seasons and is tough as nails. Not many people know about Dumont since he is playing down in Nashville where the coverage is brutal. Expect Dumont to challenge for his spot on the team.
Brent Burns (D) -Ever wonder why the Minnesota Wild don't give up much goals? Watch this kid play and you will understand.
Shea Weber (D) -Currently leading all defensemen with 18 points, Weber is an all around solid player.
Long Shots:These players will need to do something special to crack the line-up.
Mike Ribeiro (C)- Another great setup man, problem is we have too many of those, can't see Ribeiro making the cut.
Jason Spezza (C)- The old "Spez" dispencer. Bottom line is his defensive game scares the crap out of me. He will be lucky to be considered for the reserve spots.
Jonathan Toews (C) -Not the start he expected this season, but his numbers are still solid. I think his lack of experience will prevent him from making the team.
Danny Briere (C) -Hate to say it but Briere is a softy. Though he has good skills, his inability to stay healthy is a big concern. Really only had one great year in 06'-07' when he put up 95 points with the Sabre's.
Michael Cammalleri (LW) -Cammalleri is still young at age 26 and keeps getting better every year. His speed and puck handling ability may be useful on the bigger ice surface.
Brad Boys (RAW) -Boys is another premier sniper in the league recording 43 goals for the Blues in 07'-08 and is a magician with the puck. However, his defensive game is a concern, he has a career -21 rating and quite frankly I don't think he is tough enough.
Mike Knobble (RAW) -An experienced veteran and a force in front of the net. At 6' 3" and weighing 230 pounds, Knobble can give Canada a big body presence in front of the net on power plays. Since 02'-03' Knuble has recorded 20+ goals in every season, his solid defensive play will keep him in the running for a spot.
Drew Doughty (D) -This kid is the real deal but I think he is still to young. He will barely be 20 years old when the roster is announced, he will have to make some serious noise to considered.
Sheldon Souray (D) -Souray is big man who can throw the body around. He had a huge season in 06'-07 recording 26 goals. However, he is a career -32 and his skating ability is not the greatest.
Bryan Mccabe (D) -After his pathetic performance at the Turin Olympics, Mccabe is lucky we let him keep his citizenship.
Wade Redden (D) -It seems like Redden has completely lost his game. He was booed by the fans at MSG in their game against the Canucks where he committed turn over after turn over and was beaten for a few breakaways.
Sean Avery (LW) -Avery makes his teammates worse, plain and simple. He is not the kind of player you want representing your country on the National stage. Also, it would just be awkward to have him and Brodeur in the same dressing room.
Joe Sakic (C) -A.K.A Burnaby Joe. I honestly think Sakic will hang up the skates after this season. It was a hard decision for him to come back for this season and I just think his tank is running on fumes. One of the classiest players to ever lace them up and a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Please, feel free to comment on these choices as this is defiantly a debatable article.